Signs of iPhone growing pains at Apple's WWDC?

Programmers are finally unpacking their gear after last week's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco and blogging about the experience. Some noticed rough edges in the community. Or even sharp edges.

Programmers are finally unpacking their gear after last week's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco and blogging about the experience. Some noticed rough edges in the community. Or even sharp edges.

The divide between longtime Mac developers and the iPhone newcomers was noted by Neven Morgan, the iPhone developer of OneTrip and Quip, the daily quotes machine. In a blog post, he said that the success of the iPhone could cause some dissension in the family.

The tension was more noticeable this year than the last. I really hope the divide between Mac-only developers and those who have newly arrived to the OS X platform via iPhone doesn’t become a troubling community issue. I understand why a desktop-centric veteran of Mac OS would be annoyed by a building covered with naught but iPhone app icons. I also understand why Apple is focusing on this new product so much: it’s popular, it’s ripe with potential, it’s a great mix of the accessible and the technologically impressive. Who knows how one should properly think about this. I just wish mom and dad would stop fighting, you know?

However, John Gruber at Daring Fireball saw new interest in the Mac from iPhone developers who had grown up on other platforms.

Both this year and last, there have been single sessions whose titles epitomized that year’s conference. Last year, the first year with an iPhone development track, that session was titled “Intro to Mac OS X”. It’s hard to imagine such a session title even one year earlier at WWDC, but I walked by that session last year just to see how crowded it was, and the line to get in ran out the door and down the hall all the way to the escalators. They had to turn people away. (Apple replayed the session on video later in the week and the replay filled to capacity, too.)

This year, the emblematic session was titled “Mac Programming for iPhone Developers”. I’m not even sure what to say about that, other than to confirm that anecdotal evidence suggests that new-to-Apple iPhone developers are indeed very much interested in developing for the Mac now, too.

Before the keynote address, one longtime Mac developer told me that "biggest inhibitor of growth in the Mac market is the turnover of Mac developers." He noted that some longtime Mac companies were being squeezed out of the market by crossover titles from developers new to the Mac.

"Apple doesn't care," he continued.

These programmers were leaving the Mac for other platforms. And I'm sure he's right, as suggested by the lines of newbies Gruber mentioned.

At the same time, iPhone developers have their share of beefs.

Marco Arment offered a blistering post on his blog about App Store policies:

The last session of WWDC ‘09 yesterday was about publishing on the App Store. The content of sessions is under NDA, so I can’t tell you what it was about. So I’ll tell you what wasn’t in it: the audience Q&A session that succeeded nearly every other WWDC session and usually provided invaluable access to Apple employees and useful additional knowledge to attendees. The session itself blew through its lightweight examples quickly, ending 45 minutes early. The majority of the audience was clearly there for the Q&A. As people lined up at the microphones around the room, the presenter abruptly showed a simple slide with only “WWDC” in plain lettering, thanked us for coming, and bolted off the stage. The Apple engineers, usually staying around the stage for one-on-one questions, were gone. The lights came up instantly, and it was the only session that didn’t end in music. The audience was stunned.

It was a giant middle finger to iPhone developers. And that’s the closing impression that Apple gave us for WWDC. Clearly, they had absolutely no interest in fielding even a single question from the topic that we have the most questions about.


He softened his comments a bit after a bunch of responders told him "well, if you don't like it so much, why don't you go live in Redmond?" or something similar.

It’s simple, really: I believe iPhone is the best mobile platform out there by far, as both a user and a developer.

I’m a huge fan of Apple and almost everything they make because they have an incredibly effective design process and release strategy that facilitates the creation of consistently great products. Even when they screw up, the magnitude is usually far lower than with other software companies: I’d rather use Apple’s worst than Microsoft’s best.


You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All