Archive for December 3, 2020

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Enrolling in the App Store Small Business Program

Apple (MacRumors):

To ensure that all participants are fully eligible as small businesses, you’ll need to list all of your Associated Developer Accounts when you sign up for this program. An Associated Developer Account is an Apple Developer Program account that you own or control or an Apple Developer Program account that owns or controls your account.


App transfers are not allowed while participating in the program.


The vast majority of developers on the App Store who sell digital goods and services are eligible — simply complete a few steps to enroll.

Andreas Kambanis:

If you transfer apps to/from your account you can’t participate in the program 🙃 I can see why they did this but I can also see why many small developers may legitimately need to do this.


Update (2020-12-04): See also: Hacker News.

David Barnard:

This is a huge mistake from Apple. Part of being a small business on the App Store is building an asset that can be sold (I’ve sold 3 apps now, and reinvested most of the money). Instead of making a blanket rule against it, the new account should be able to re-apply immediately.

I’m not sure how much of a problem this is because transferring apps is already impossible if you use iCloud, Sign in with Apple, or a number of other entitlements. I suppose the best practice is to set up a separate LLC and developer account for each app. That way, if you need to sell the app, you can sell the entire LLC while keeping the app in the same Apple developer account.

Unfortunately, having separate LLCs requires more paperwork, which is already a burden for small businesses. It also adds extra steps in App Store Connect and Xcode, is confusing for customers, and may restrict data sharing between your own apps.

Update (2020-12-24): Hartley Charlton:

Apple has started contacting eligible developers to inform them that they have been accepted into the Small Business Program, which allows developers to benefit from significantly reduced App Store fees.

I was accepted yesterday.

Update (2021-01-05): Paul Haddad:

Did anyone end up or getting rejected from the Apple small business program?

Salesforce Buys Slack

Ron Miller and Alex Wilhelm (Hacker News):

Salesforce, the CRM powerhouse that recently surpassed $20 billion in annual revenue, announced today it is wading deeper into enterprise social by acquiring Slack in a $27.7 billion megadeal. Rumors of a pending deal surfaced last week, causing Slack’s stock price to spike.


Ultimately, Slack was ripe for the taking. Entering 2020 it had lost around 40% of its value since it went public. Consider that after its most recent earnings report, the company lost 16% of its value, and before the Salesforce deal leaked, the company was worth only a few dollars per share more than its direct listing reference price. Toss in net losses of $147.6 million during the two quarters ending July 31, 2020, Slack’s uninspiring public valuation and its winding path to profitability and it was a sitting target for a takeover like this one.


Slack was founded in 2013, but its origins go back to an online multiplayer game company called Glitch that was founded in 2009. While the game was ultimately a failure, the startup developed an internal messaging system in the process of building that company that later evolved into Slack.


They started out trying to make an MMO, ended up making Flickr instead.

Then they tried making another MMO, but ended up making Slack instead.

I really hope they get cracking on another MMO soon.

Allen Pike:

Salesforce acquiring Slack feels like another “End of the Beginning” moment. Startups used to overturn established tech giants on a regular basis. Increasingly that just isn’t happening anymore – or at least, not often. A new era is upon us.

Matias Korhonen:

If you can’t make money with a communication tool during a global pandemic that has forced almost everyone who possibly can work from home to work from home, what will it take?

Casey Newton:

Slack’s life as an underdog darling of Silicon Valley ended on November 2, 2016. That’s when the upstart communication startup published an open letter to Microsoft in the New York Times, offering the tech giant an insincere “welcome” to the world of workplace chat software. The occasion was Microsoft’s launch of Teams, a Slack clone that would come bundled with the company’s popular Office 365 suite of products.

In its letter, Slack warned Microsoft that “Slack is here to stay,” adding: “we’re just getting started.” But the 4 million users it had at the time would increase to just 12 million four years later, while Microsoft — which added Teams to its 365 bundle without increasing the price — took Teams from zero to 115 million users.

John Gruber:

Slack, as a public company, has been under immense pressure to do whatever it takes to make its stock price go up in the face of competition from Microsoft’s Teams[…] Slack, it seems to me, has been pulled apart. What they ought to be entirely focused on is making Slack great in Slack-like ways. Perhaps Salesforce sees that Slack gives them an offering competitive to Teams, and if they just let Slack be Slack, their offering will be better — be designed for users, better integrated for developers.

Om Malik:

As an angel investor in the company, I felt compelled to write about why Slack mattered? Well, I never really published the piece. Thinking about it — it doesn’t matter: it is still relevant today, as it was then, for it is about why Slack mattered enough for Benioff to pony up more dollars than what Microsoft paid for LinkedIn.


So, when I saw the early version of Slack, I was intrigued by its possibilities as a messaging platform that wasn’t really an email, but an API to carry notifications for different kinds of corporate applications.

Update (2020-12-16): John Gruber:

I do love me an annotated press release. There’s well-warranted snark about some of the language, but also some astute analysis of why this deal makes sense for both companies[…]

Official macOS Hosting and Amazon EC2

Brian Stucki (tweet):

Apple has updated the macOS software license agreement for Big Sur. This doesn’t happen very often.


I have been working with Macs in data centers for sixteen years now. I’ve pushed through many of the “Mac mini/Xserve/Mac Pro is dead” comments and “why would you want macOS in a data center” insults. I’ve had Apple account reps very eager to introduce me to their large clients only to have Apple system engineers shoot down the whole idea as a “gray area.” Well, this new section of “Leasing for Permitted Developer Services” feels like a massive pat on the back and I’m so happy for all my friends at Apple who saw the need and have been pushing for this update.

macOS hosting is now approved and written out in plain terms in a very Apple way. Incredible!

Nicholas Terry:

Apple software and hardware must be leased “in its entirety to and individual or organization”

A lease period must be “for a minimum period of twenty-four (24) consecutive hours”


Developers may now “install, use, and run additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments”

Frederic Lardino:

AWS today opened its re:Invent conference with a surprise announcement: the company is bringing the Mac mini to its cloud. These new EC2 Mac instances, as AWS calls them, are now generally available.


For the first time, you can easily set up and deploy macOS workloads natively within AWS, and take advantage of its flexibility and scalability to add more compute capacity. EC2 Mac instances in the cloud make it easy to create more builds, run more tests, and further automate your development processes by seamlessly provisioning and accessing macOS compute environments with just a few clicks.

Amazon (Hacker News):

Powered by Mac mini hardware and the AWS Nitro System, you can use Amazon EC2 Mac instances to build, test, package, and sign Xcode applications for the Apple platform including macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and Safari. The instances feature an 8th generation, 6-core Intel Core i7 (Coffee Lake) processor running at 3.2 GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 4.6 GHz. There’s 32 GiB of memory and access to other AWS services including Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), AWS Systems Manager, and so forth.


Mac instances run macOS 10.14 (Mojave) and 10.15 (Catalina) and can be accessed via command line (SSH) or remote desktop (VNC).


The instances are launched as EC2 Dedicated Hosts with a minimum tenancy of 24 hours. This is largely transparent to you, but it does mean that the instances cannot be used as part of an Auto Scaling Group.

EC2 Mac instances with the Apple M1 chip are already in the works, and planned for 2021.

Corey Quinn (Hacker News):

So $790 a month if you leave it running all the time.

I reiterate that @MacStadium is $139.

MacStadium has cheaper models, too. On the other hand, I could see it being useful to occasionally rent a day from Amazon if you need to do testing with an older version of macOS, especially since Apple Silicon Macs can’t run Intel versions of macOS in virtualization.


Update (2021-01-01): Paul Haddad:

A couple low res pictures of the Mac mini AWS nodes. Awful lot of cables coming out of the back of those minis. I kind of expected one or two Thunderbolt connections, power and power switch, not all this.

Update (2021-10-20): See also: Hetzner (via Peter Steinberger).