Apple and Hostility
Allen Pike wrote up a response to "Fear of Apple" in which he argued the following:
Now, I don’t know what iOS developers Eli has been talking to, since I’ve seen more articles, talks, and rants on this topic than any other in the community. What was more interesting to me, though, was that Eli attributed the supposed lack of criticism to a fear of Apple…it’s unclear to me what what potential critics are afraid that a modern Apple might do to them. Pulling some indie’s app from the store because they wrote a critical blog post is hardly Apple’s MO.
On the contrary, several developers who publicly supported "Fear of Apple" have reached out to me to disclose that they were promptly approached by Apple developer relations personnel about the matter.
John Scalo remarked "I worked at Apple for 20 years, I'm fairly sensible, and I'm wary of getting on Apple's bad side."
Similarly, developer Tony Arnold pointed out:
To clarify my comment about hostility: Apple isn't a person. They're a multinational corporation, not your friend. Working in the environment they've created can be hostile. Products get absorbed by the OS with no warning.
Russell Ivanovic explained:
As harsh as this article sounds in places, it’s a fascinating read. I agree with almost all of it. You can bet that it’s causing all sorts of private discussions among developers around the world. I seriously doubt you’ll see those discussions happening much in the open though. They’ll be confined to Twitter DMs, iMessages and private Slack channels. It’s one of those odd instances where if you don’t see this article widely distributed, you’ll know it hit a bit too close to home.
Russell Ivanovic had to defend the validity of his story:
you’re welcome to speculate as to whether it’s an isolated incident or not, but not if it happened…There won’t be more details on a podcast though, I’m not that crazy…there’s a lot more to the story, all of which makes Apple look really bad, but there’s no way I’m publishing any of that…I held back most of the story because I knew people wouldn’t believe it. There’s nothing in it for me to push it further.
Daniel Jalkut responded to Ivanovic's predicament:
Ivanovic’s experience sounds devastating, but it doesn’t strike me as treatment that many developers should live in fear of also suffering…I’m confident that at the level of individuals within Apple, efforts are almost always in the spirit of helping developers.
An interesting counterpoint exposed earlier by Federico Viticci on MacStories says otherwise that Apple was indeed engaging in arbitrary hostility towards developers:
"They [Apple] basically said that Launcher was a trailblazer in uncharted territories and that they felt that they needed to make an example of it", Gardner wrote in a widely shared blog post in December 2014.
In response to Jalkut's article, one anonymous source made the following clarification:
There is a very important distinction needed — engineers at Apple have a vastly different role to developer relations. In my experience, engineers see themselves as peers and friends to most third party developers. Developer relations hold more power with the App Store editorial teams, and are focused on encouraging new API usage, as well as supporting new devices on day one. With that in mind, developer relations have more direct ability to control the success or failure of a specific app.
Marco Arment immediately responded to "Fear of Apple" by arguing that I "misinterpreted" him: "I didn't apologize for criticizing." This is a of course patently false. He continued, "You continue to blatantly and intentionally ignore accuracy." He explained "My thoughts are being pretty badly misrepresented."
Simply because Arment claims he was misrepresented does not make it so. It is easily verifiable whether or not he publicly rescinded his criticism. He said verbatim: "I'm scared of having damaged my relationship with Apple." One cannot possibly misinterpret Arment's bold label on his critique post that states: "I regret having published this."
Marco Arment then wrote a response article entitled Censoring myself for Apple in which he again falsely argued, "I don’t censor myself to avoid getting on “Apple’s bad side”, and you shouldn’t, either."
When it comes to Arment, he has been critical of Apple throughout the years. He used harsh words as recently as December 2014 when discussing App Review: "This is a disgraceful, disrespectful, and cowardly way to create and enforce policies, and it’s burning a lot of developer motivation to work on iOS…You’re better than this, Apple…Just disgusting."
However, for me, it is irrelevant whether Arment engages in criticism when it goes unseen by the majority of the public. I also have little sympathy for the idea that criticism is prone to distortion by the “dramapress.” In "Functional High Ground," Arment raised legitimate complaints that deeply resonated with the developer community. Yet at the very moment when his criticism reached its zenith in the public sphere, Arment relented and expressed regret for posting the criticism.
This is exactly the problem being exposed here. A developer should not fear that media exposure to their legitimate complaints will damage their reputation. In such as situation, a critical developer should feel perfectly comfortable publicly proclaiming, 'I stand by my criticism despite the news media’s ignorance.'
Responses to Arment's Response
Brian S. Hall wrote a brilliant post entitled Censoring for Apple. The Strange Case of the Two Marcos
Mike Beasley had his own humorous commentary:
Marco “I Regret Criticizing Apple” Arment says he doesn’t regret criticizing Apple, he just regrets that other people criticized Apple.— Mike Beasley (@MikeBeas) March 26, 2015
> “Apple lost the functional high ground” > “I regret saying that.” > “I didn’t really regret saying that.” Next month: > “I regret it.”— Mike Beasley (@MikeBeas) March 26, 2015
- William Wilkinson responds "Yeah I get what he's saying, but I think that they are dismissing that at the end of the day its about doing shit right. And putting in the effort."
- Matthias Shapiro exposes that Microsoft responds positively to critical feedback on the Windows platform.
- Android Developers discuss the similarities and differences between the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store.
- Tim Sears notes that search and discovery is still broken despite Apple acquiring a company dedicated to both those pursuits back in 2012.
- OS News
- Designer News
- Reddit r/apple
- Reddit r/programming
- Hacker News has some really in-depth discussion with over 250 comments.
- Tapbots' Paul Haddad thread
Further Reading on Apple and the Press
There were many who responded to my article by making ridiculous political analogies:
- For some, Apple is a fascist company.
- For others, Apple is "Kind of like a certain Community Organizer" (Obama) who "is not hesitant about using any means at all to impress his will."
- For others still, Apple is comparable to ISIS.
- The list wouldn't be complete if Apple was not, in essence, North Korea.
- I have even been compared to Bill O'Reilly:
@eli_schiff that last piece was all sorts of fear mongery and heavily built on confirmation bias. Bill O’Reilly level stuff.— Eric D. Fields (@ericdfields) March 26, 2015
Every few weeks, an article comes along that blows everything else out of the water. It’s so on point and so true that its detractors can’t help but spread hate about it and, unknowingly, essentially end up marketing it to everyone around them who will listen to them. And so it spreads like wildfire.
This is such a well constructed piece on Apple's hostility toward the development community: http://t.co/OIHHMaSVTo— Tony Arnold (@tonyarnold) March 25, 2015
Long, but worth reading. Could be named "Fear of App Stores" also - Fear of Apple by Eli Schiff http://t.co/12x0ZVOEbV— Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) March 24, 2015
I feel that indie content creators and indie software devs have similar issues (different industries): http://t.co/4f8cOUbgOe— Chris Pirillo (@ChrisPirillo) March 24, 2015
Yep to pretty much all of this. “Apple optimizes for one-hit wonders.” http://t.co/P7dsmqxaL7— Paul Haddad (@tapbot_paul) March 24, 2015
I don’t agree with everything @eli_schiff wrote in the aforelinked posts, but he does make some good points.— David Barnard (@drbarnard) March 24, 2015