Wednesday, February 10, 2021 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Student’s Developer Account Mistakenly Terminated

Anne Drewa (also: MacRumors, tweet):

A free Indigenous language app developed by a first-year UBC student from Prince Rupert, B.C. is up and running again after Apple mistakenly accused the young developer of dishonest and fraudulent acts.

[…]

Eshom says he received an automated email from the tech giant telling him it was terminating his status as an Apple developer pursuant to the Apple Developer Agreement for dishonest and fraudulent acts related to that agreement.

[…]

He says he reached out to Apple multiple times for an explanation, but couldn’t get answers.

So, of course, he went to the press, and that worked.

Apple says more than a half-million developer accounts were terminated for fraudulent activity last year, which resulted in their apps being removed from sale. But Apple says Eshom’s developer account was regrettably included with the removals.

Via Jeff Johnson:

It’s impossible to intelligently “curate” at this scale. Nobody should have the power.

People claim that “at least App Store is better than the wild west”, but that’s false because App Store provides a platform and honeypot for malware.

Outside the App Store, it’s hard for a scammy app to get enough PageRank or traffic to go anywhere. Inside the App Store, instead of PageRank we have ratings and reviews, both of which can be easily faked. No opinions from trusted third parties show up when you search. So it’s actually easier for scams and malware to proliferate if they aren’t caught by App Review.

Previously:

9 Comments

Apple: "If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps."

We have since reinstated his developer account and app...

After months of ignoring him, and only after they were contacted by the media.

...and will continue our efforts to improve our processes to ensure this does not happen again.

Narrator: "It will happen again."

Sorry not sorry, the “Wild West” was much better just as cruising BRICs ‘net is now.

Just think of how much technical debt Apple could pay if they weren’t Western internet”s self designated nanny that no one ever wanted.

As a developer, I'm thankful my Mac app is (by Apple’s requirements) excluded from the Mac App Store, so I don't suffer the pain of dealing with Apple Reviews that seem to largely focus on Apple marketing enforcement rather than any kind of actual security for Apple customers (which is better handled by sandboxing and other real security measures anyway).

And yet I still live in fear of Apple one day just unilaterally terminating my account in error.

I can't imagine the level of stress this puts on small iOS and Mac developers trying to run a business, especially with employees, knowing your revenue could be shut off at Apple’s whim at any time and your only real recourse is to hope for enough press coverage to make Apple notice the error.

@Peter:

I can't imagine the level of stress this puts on small iOS and Mac developers trying to run a business, especially with employees, knowing your revenue could be shut off at Apple’s whim at any time and your only real recourse is to hope for enough press coverage to make Apple notice the error.

That “stress” is the universe kindly telling you that you’re an incompetent fool for not spreading out your risks. If Apple closing your account can kill your company overnight, that’s not on them; that’s on you.

It’s comparable to—in a startup phase—failing to land your second customer because you’re far too busy letting your first customer run you ragged every working hour. (Ask me how I know.)

Sorry not sorry, the “Wild West” was much better

[citations required]

Which is not to excuse Apple’s sub-par curation: because while I’ve no doubt the crap the public do see is just a fraction of the torrent that Apple blocks, that’s still not good enough. The whole point of curation is to engender trust, particularly amongst the 99% who are not security gurus (or the nerd pretenders who think they’re too clever ever to get caught out—protip: you’re not).

As curator, it is Apple’s job to maintain eternal vigilance, not only against the mass volume of well-practised scams flowing in now, but the novel new ones being cooked up for tomorrow. That means, amongst other things, constantly monitoring how well their own detection and reporting procedures are [not] performing, and criticising and revising those as quickly and often as need dictates, not stalling and bluster.

If paying customers cannot flag an App as a possible scam (which, I’ll accept generates its own workloads and opportunities for gaming the system), then that means either that A. Apple already provides 100% effective curation itself, or B. Apple doesn’t want to acknowledge that it has a problem.

No prizes for guessing which of the above is 100% in keeping with the Cook policy of Nobody Here Rocks The Apple Boat.

The central CnC operation of Jobs’ Apple simply doesn’t function under Cook. He doesn’t have the Brand First attention to detail that made Jobs so great at juggling every ball. The smart move would be to divest day-to-day running of AppStore under an independent management team, and make them the stakeholders for it. Otherwise AppStore management’s motivations are purely “collect a paycheck and avoid upsetting the bosses above”, and you don’t need to be a genius businessman to see what outcome that will inevitably select for.

Apple wants to trash its hard-earned brand rep as “trusted by consumers”? Just keep going the way they are now. “Oh, but we’re not as bad as the Android Store” is not a defense.

I wonder if, in addition to complete absence of imagination, Cook might be a bit of a martinet too? B-grade managers don’t promote A-grade talent from under them, because they know that talent will ultimately have their job†. That’s how big companies end up with C-grade managers everywhere, and the company ultimately folds in on itself and rots, because everyone’s motivation is now how fat they can make their own pay packet and the empires they build under themselves; and nobody gives a crap for the health of the business itself.

e.g. Ballmer’s Microsoft was notorious for its internecine cage matches, where the executive deliberately pitched every MS department into eternal battle every other MS department just to see which is the most powerful. As a result, none of them were engaged in fighting the company’s competitors, even as those external rivals helped themselves to Microsoft’s markets. That may have changed under Nadella, but all of the damage was already done.

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† Whereas A-grade managers are happy to lose their current position, knowing they’ll be promoted upwards at the same time for producing business success. A rising tide lifts all their boats. Except, that only works if the company itself is maintaining growth, and Apple pretty much stalled out there by 2016. Thus, the A-talent with sense will continue finding promotion by moving outward to hungry competitors; and what gets left behind is the safe, jobsworthy crud.

Eh, not my circus, not my clowns. But it is instructive as I figure out how (and how not) to succeed in business myself.

Ah @has-kun looking for citations? Everything *was* better back then when we weren't "catering to feels" and merely going after overt fraud. The internet was never really that much of a "wild west" and anyone who has ever done "net abuse" from the SOHO level on up to backbone providers knows this.

And yes every ASP/ISP had (semi) automated systems and an email for fraud, back when the issues were only spam and fraud.

It's not Apple's job to cater to the feels of mobs of people, NGOs or even governments like Pakistan that "want an App banned because a group of people in Pakistan that the PK government doesn't consider Muslims want an app to organize & communicate." But Tim Cook made it his job, and accepted that plastic trophy from the ADL, and here we are.

The price of the "eternal vigilance" of catering to feels has Apple losing (I'd say) 30% of their tech labor bandwidth on "compliance to feels" rather than the old ways of staying out of politics and ONLY co-operating with law enforcement organizations.

As to Peter Lewis and any other developer, I really feel sorry for them, and no, has-kun... they can't "diversify" because Apple controls distribution inside as well as *outside* the AppStore. Any developer is only one revoked license away from never selling any mac software ever again. Charlie Monroe and now this student dev have proven that and "run and scream to the press" while it works just makes Apple... well, more Apple, doubling down on already bad policies.

Are you saying is that indie devs should spread themselves thin across mac, Windows, Linux, Java, whatever and NOT have customer focus? Because Apple by itself is almost too toxic a platform to develop for exclusively?

We already have buggy, mediocre, one-off apps that don't get updated for months because app devs already are spread too thin, and if they calculated their "true salary" and "complying with Apple inconsistent rules" might abandon app development altogether.

It's unprecedented how Facebook, Apple and Google can insinuate themselves into developer/customer business relationship that are none of their business. "Tortious Interference" is a thing and maybe a few class action lawsuits or some trust busting is warranted.

You can "diversify FROM" --but there's NO WAY to "diversify on" Apple's platforms. There is no "outside the MAS" anymore. Apple has seen to that, and maybe a few lawsuits or some trust busting are warranted until they get the message.

Everything *was* better back then when we weren't "catering to feels" and merely going after overt fraud. The internet was never really that much of a "wild west" and anyone who has ever done "net abuse" from the SOHO level on up to backbone providers knows this.

You mean 20 years ago when a few million nerds were the internet?

Yeah, those days are long dead and gone, Grasshopper. The regulatory mechanisms that “worked” back then (largely by ignoring all the problems as “not that important”), simply do not scale up to where we are now, never mind where we’ll be in future.

Are you saying is that indie devs should spread themselves thin across mac, Windows, Linux, Java, whatever and NOT have customer focus? Because Apple by itself is almost too toxic a platform to develop for exclusively?

Word of advice: none of these platforms give a shit about you. You choose to cut some corners on your foundations in order to meet other priorities, that’s just you making business decisions; and business if nothing if not juggling conflicting demands. But you can hardly blame others should your house fall down: nobody owes you a living except you.

Can’t make a living on Apple’s platform? Dump that fricking platform, dumbass, and go find a line of work where you can.

Damn but on a scale of One to Stupid Mac fans† are right up at the top.

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(† I’ve not been a “Mac fan” since I took a hammer to the POS 7500 that I bought. I use Macs as an appropriate tool for various jobs, but I know that I don’t owe Apple a goddamned thing and am under exactly zero delusions that they feel any different themselves.)

North Dakota bill to force Apple to allow alternative App Stores and Payment systems:

https://www.theverge.com/2021/2/10/22276511/north-dakota-senate-bill-2333-apple-google-app-store-antitrust-monopoly

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