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I Nominate Apple As The Least Developer Friendly Platform Company

With all the news around Apple’s developer conference this week (and the iCloud hype), I couldn’t stop from thinking about all the complaints I’ve heard about the company over the years. Apple may be great at building compelling consumer products, but they seem to be almost deaf to the concerns or needs of software developers who use those platforms.

What are your experiences in developing for Apple platforms? Would you like to nominate any other company for providing a world-class tin ear to 3rd party engineers?

I build my case on a number of factors. Apple has changed APIs with little or no notice. Their tools have never been particularly easy to use, and there are quite often glaring holes in their platforms that force developers to jump through hoops to get things done. Worst of all, there seems to be a lack of communication, to help 3rd parties know the recommended ways of doing things or to prepare for changes.

Unfortunately, the comments I was reading from the founder of BeamitDown regarding his decisions to shut-down his business due to a change in Apple’s in-app purchasing policies didn’t surprise me.

As much as developers complain about Microsoft’s inattention to developers (speaking as someone who used to work at Microsoft and heard a lot of developer gripes) I think that Apple takes the cake. Whereas Microsoft sometimes creates problems by slavishly supporting old APIs far too long (creating confusion with multiple APIs to do the same tasks), Apple will simply change things.

But then, perhaps being responsive to developer needs isn’t really all that important for business. Developers will go wherever the users are. If Apple continues to build successful products, that attract millions of users, then developers will continue to build on its platforms, no matter how badly they are treated.

Michael Surkan

SEP Chief Evangelist

P.S. The Software Development Times is offering a free one-year subscription to their print edition to SEP members in North America.