Jeff Atwood, citing Apple’s App Store restrictions and their apparent Sherlocking of Instapaper:
As a consumer, I like that Apple is perfectly willing to throw its software developers under a bus to protect me (or, more cynically, Apple itself). But as a software developer, I’m not sure I can cope with that and I am unlikely to ever develop anything for an iOS device as a result. If you choose to deliver software in the Apple ecosystem, this is simply the tradeoff you’ve chosen to make.
I liked Jeff LaMarche’s excellent response.
I’ve written before about Safari’s Reading List and what it means for Instapaper: in short, I don’t think it will hurt sales, and it may even boost them. Indeed, with iOS 5’s release nearly two weeks ago, I haven’t seen a decline in sales at all, although there have been other factors that hardly make it a controlled experiment.1
Jeff’s main point — that iOS developers rely on Apple’s continued permission, which can be revoked at any time — is valid, although I disagree with him that such a situation is a reason to avoid developing for the platform.2 It’s simply a cost of doing business, and the potential upside is huge, so I accept it.
I can’t overstate how big the iOS market is, and how easy Apple has made it for people to pay for software. It’s one of the best environments for independent software development in history. (It’s probably the best.) And much of that is because of, not despite, Apple’s controls.
I know Apple doesn’t care about me with its decision-making. I know the risks of having an App Store app. I’m in this market because I want to be.
In the last two weeks, Instapaper was featured in the New and Noteworthy section of the App Store, Instapaper 4.0 was released (and got a lot of press), and the iPhone 4S was released, any of which alone would normally be responsible for a big sales boost. The success of the last two weeks of sales, therefore, hardly says anything either way about Reading List’s impact. ↩︎
A monarchy or oligarchy controlling a software developer’s access to customers isn’t new: ask anyone who has ever sold software in retail stores or on game consoles. ↩︎