Apple, help me... help YOU.

Apple, help me... help YOU.

Summary: Is it just me or do all of us feel like we're in the midst of a dysfunctional relationship as Apple customers, developers and content suppliers?

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TOPICS: Apple
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Special Report: Apple iPad

Is it just me or do all of us feel like we're in the midst of a dysfunctional relationship  as Apple customers, developers and content suppliers?

Apple, I'm sorry to say that it has come to this. But you're making it very, very difficult for me to love you.

Let me begin this entire missive with the admission that I haven't been particularly nice to you or your fans the last few years, but this is because I have been closely observing your behavior and what I have seen disturbs me greatly.

Indeed, I am not a Mac guy. Over the years I've explained why. I don't need one. I have no practical use for one nor do I wish to pay the premium for ownership of one given how quickly I outgrow my hardware. Instead I use Windows and Linux in combination with commodity systems. It's nothing personal. It's just me.

I also don't own an iPhone or an iPod, and I've also explained in the past why that's the case. For the longest time I was a corporate email user on BlackBerry and I also don't collect a ton of music, preferring my content to be streamed and spoon-fed to me on the radio or on SIRIUS XM. Indeed, when the time came for me to leave BlackBerry-land and AT&T, I ventured towards the fresh, open fields of Android and Verizon.

I had come very close to writing you off entirely. However, you did something that made me take notice of you, and I couldn't ignore it -- you announced the iPad.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Unrequited iPad Love

I was so enchanted with the potential of what it could do that I whipped out my American Express card and bought one on pre-order the second you opened your store. In good faith, and based on demos alone. Because even though I have long-standing issues with you, I knew that it would be a quality engineered product, and you would deliver me exactly what I wanted.
My iPad hasn't even gotten here yet. It won't arrive until next Saturday, April 3. As a member of the press I haven't had any hands-on with one whatsoever. Not even the emulator in the SDK. But I know it will be fantastic. Apple, with the iPad, you had me at hello.

That being said, I have... concerns.

My family has asked me why I am getting into a relationship with you again, after more than a 25 year hiatus.

My colleagues say I am drunk with gadget lust. I counter this accusation with the user experience the iPad is going to offer, and that as a technology writer I want and need to be fluent in leading technology trends, so it's easy for me to cost justify what seems by others to be a frivolous purchase.

Apple, my readers are asking me why I'm supporting you when I've been so critical of you, and many of them want to know if they too should take the plunge.

I have to say that even after becoming a customer myself, I cannot yet with good conscience say "go do it, buy an iPad, it's a no-brainer."

You need to make it easy on me. You need to help me... help YOU.

Help me help you... as a Consumer and as a Content Provider.

Apple, you're acting in such a wacky unpredictable fashion that I'm not sure where to begin. You create this fantastic device that has all of this incredible potential, but then you do things to it that make me feel like my personal freedoms are being compromised. I mean, I'm paying YOU over $700.00 for the device plus accessories, shouldn't I be able to do what I want with it?

Let's start with content consumption. I genuinely applaud the fact that you are permitting alternative content providers to iBooks, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Zinio to submit their apps to the store.

However, then you go and set regional content review policies which restrict what these content providers can actually display on my iPad even if I've paid for their content and can view it on other devices already.

Look Apple, I'm an adult and I should be able to consume my adult content if I've paid for it and the content provider is perfectly willing to sell it to me.

I completely understand that you don't want kids to be able to see erotic material or pornography. Fine. I get it. Really, I do.

Instead of potentially blacklisting 13,000 titles on Amazon, or stopping Zinio from letting me read my Playboy or Maxim or my wife's French VOGUE subscriptions, can't you just give these content providers an API that allows a parent or legal guardian to lock this content out from in-app purchases or inadvertent display using the same Parental Content Controls you have for iTunes?

Wouldn't that solve the problem just as easily? One of your top iTunes explicit podcasters, Violet Blue also feels this would be a sensible solution. The kids won't get to see what their parents think they shouldn't be seeing, and the responsible adults can then consume their explicit content responsibly.

[UPDATE: It appears the content controls WILL be in the iPad. However, this doesn't adequately explain the Regional Content Review policies and why certain content from 3rd parties, such as Zinio's adult magazines, will still be blocked. It still might not have API control over the 3rd-party content, and doesn't detail what the raw boundaries for "explicit" actually mean yet.]

My colleague, David Gewirtz at ZDNet Government also feels that your control of the App Store and placing restrictions on content providers may also potentially create conditions where ANY material you may find "undesirable" may end up getting censored, be it adult material, erotica, or even political or social views that you don't agree with.

Perhaps I'm naive, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt that you really aren't that nefariously inclined until I see evidence to the contrary.

Also Read: Why 2010 might be like 1984

Also Read: Five Lessons Apple can learn from Amazon

Let's get past the porn, the erotica and the potential peril of Thought Policing. This whole Flash imbroglio with Adobe is absolutely maddening. Some of the most entertaining interactive sites on the web, such CBS's TV.com and Hulu.com use Flash-based content and you're forcing these sites to create specialized Objective-C apps for viewing it rather than just letting stuff work.

Sure, Flash isn't the most efficient executable environment in the world. HTML5 is nice and all, but can't you just give us the OPTION of installing it in the App Store if we want to use it in Safari rather than locking it out entirely?

Fine, I can see not wanting to put Adobe Air apps on the iPad and restricting the programmatic environment for new apps to Objective-C. But purposely crippling the browser functionality for the most important plug-in in existence? That's just plain nutty.

Lastly, what's with the no expansion and sealed shut shtick? If I suddenly run out of room on my 32GB, I'm hosed and I can't easily offload it if I'm not near a PC or a Mac.

I can somewhat, although reluctantly understand why there's no removable battery and no SD card slot on an iPhone or an iTouch. But on a multipurpose portable COMPUTER? I mean, the iPad isn't a handheld or a handset where pocket-ability is of prime importance. What does an SD card slot and a USB chipset actually cost, a whole 5 bucks, if that?

Because of this stupid fixed design, I can't directly pop in my camera cards to view my photos or store extra data, or hook up a USB drive or replace the battery in my iPad when it goes bad.

Instead, I have to buy some dumb proprietary cable or adapter from YOU, and I have to send my iPad back to YOU to replace the battery. What computer manufacturer in their right mind in this day in age goes ahead and does something this stupid or arrogant? Even SONY doesn't pull that kind of crap anymore.

Help me help you... as a Developer.

There's so much insanity in this area that I'm starting to think that whoever is in charge of this within the company is completely off their meds.

Everyone, and I mean everyone wants to develop iPhone and iPad applications. You've proved that the App Store ecosystem is the Promised Land. People are making a lot of money with it. This is a Good Thing. However, your approval processes and criterion (or lack thereof) are so bat guano loony that scores of people who would love to develop even more apps now have extreme pause about jumping into the water.

Let's start with the developer environment itself. It only runs on a Mac. WHY? If Google can release Mac, Windows and Linux versions of their Android Developer Kit, why the heck can't you make an emulator and compiler stack with XCode and Interface Builder that runs on PCs?

It's bad enough that they have to learn Objective-C, which is a completely unique programming language to your products. But then you have to go and force them to buy a Mac just to develop for your devices? Don't tell me you can't make these tools run on Windows, because I know darn well all of this stuff once did, with NeXT's OpenStep for Windows NT. I used to run it, before you took over Gil Amelio's insane asylum.

So now some of these developers have gone ahead and invested in a Mac to write iPhone and iPad apps, which were accepted through your process. Then months later, you then yank 5000 applications off the App Store because they are "Overtly Sexual".

[UPDATE: It appears the content controls for permission of "Explicit" applications in the App Store may allow for the restoration of the 5000 removed applications.]

What the deuce?

A lot of people spent time and energy and resources into writing these apps, "Overtly Sexual" or not. And then you go ahead and rip out all the wireless discovery apps that use undocumented APIs, or those that have "Minimal Functionality". Can we have some sort of codified Halakha for this? Like the Talmud of iTablets? So we can stop wasting everybody's time?

You want apps that have more than Minimal Functionality? Fine. How about Opera's web browser? So far, we haven't heard jack squat that this excellent alternative browser to Safari is going to be approved. But if you have any consistency at all -- which nobody really thinks you do -- then we expect that you'll deny the app because it replicates "core functionality" of the device. You've done that with several high-profile apps and now we expect you'll do it again.

Building applications of any level of quality requires significant effort and developer investment. A good application, one that people would be willing to pay real money for, takes at least a year to develop.

Since there are limited guidelines in place for application approval or what would constitute a rejection, and you reserve the right to rip apps out of the App Store at any time, many developers are just going to say to heck with it or churn out simple junk. Or go over to Android, where no such rejections are occurring and where the device has the ability to install applications outside its own Android Market if the end-user desires.

Apple, you need to throw me a frickin' bone here. Can't there be some give and take? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topic: Apple

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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Talkback

204 comments
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  • Have it your way Jason

    Stop your whining and just have it your way Jason.....don't buy any
    Apple products, especially not an iPad. Go to Burger King (ie, Android,
    PC, Unix, etc) and have it your way. Yes, Apple products are part of an
    Apple ecosystem, a carefully planned and extremely well organized
    ecosystem, that simply works. It works because a tremendous
    amount of thought and care goes into the user feel and overall
    experience and into how the hardware works within that ecosystem
    and delivers that experience. I suppose that, no matter how
    wonderful the experience, you wouldn't go to Disneyland, Universal
    Studios or even a movie unless you could control those
    experiences....your way. I am thoroughly enjoying the ride with my
    Apple products and am glad they are careful in ways you don't
    apparently appreciate. That's what makes variety and choice so
    important. So, don't buy them, but don't whine about them either.
    frsch
    • Elitist rubbish

      Trying to sound objective but unable to hide your contempt? (equating Android, PC, Unix etc. to Burger King?)

      Maybe you fall into the category of users who are just not smart enough to handle anything beyond a simple Apple appliance? Hence the "experience"?

      I do not mind Apple users in general, but you make me want to throw up.
      Economister
      • Simple?

        While I do not agree with Apples current policy in this regard or any
        censorship. You should at least acknowledge that It takes tremendous
        power and intellect to make something simple powerful.
        Appreciate-Tech
        • So cave men were way more powerful and intellectual than Albert Einstein?

          They made something powerful out of something as simple as heat; fire.


          Albert Einstein, on the other hand.. made rather complex theories which were of no practical use for a long time.
          AzuMao
      • Re: Elitist rubbish

        Why is comparing Android/PC/Unix to Burger King elitist or contemptuous? BK's slogan is "have it your way" and that's rather the environment for Android and open source.

        While I appreciate open source (I have been using Linux for over a decade) I appreciate the restrictions on the iPad/iPhone. I applaud Apple for not wanting their devices to become masturbation toy #1. It's their device and they have the right to adjust its image.

        Also, the Android environment leads to the very same problem that we currently have with Linux: there is no cohesion and there is too much freedom of choice. Yes, such a thing exists. The problem in open source is that if I want an email client, I have about 50 different options. But client1 has features abcd only. Client2 has acdefg but not b and client3 has bcdefgh but not a. In the end, you'll end up trying a handful of versions and probably keeping multiple ones for the different features. It makes me think of having different pens to write with because with one you can't make periods or commas, but the one that does periods and commas can't underline.

        Jason's argument seems to me like a person that ordered a steak and yet is complaining that it doesn't taste like chicken. If you wanted chicken, why didn't you order chicken instead and let the rest of us enjoy our steak in peace?
        arodriguez@...
        • Consistency

          I think Jason's main problem is a complete lack of consistency on Apple's part when it comes to apps. And, their complete consistency when it comes to finding ways to gouge their customers for more money for their overpriced products - ie. the add-on cables for basic functionality.
          Dr. John
        • You've been properly brain washed

          [i]"It's their device and they have the right to adjust its image."[/i]
          You've been properly brain washed, you can return to your pod.

          You pay $700+ and you think it is "their" device?

          Of course they can control the ecosystem "Until" you buy it, after that it is your device and you should be able to do it whatever you want.

          If you want to stay within the ecosystem then good for you, you will keep the experience Apple intended.

          If you want to risk loosing that experience and do it as a fully functioning adult, then there is no reason for artificial barriers. Hey, If I want to install an application with limited functionality (a pair eyes following my pointer) then be it, why not?
          rarsa
          • Because Apple chose, before you bought it, not to let it do that.

            You knew this before buying it.
            AzuMao
          • Go Ahead !

            Don't complain about Apple locking down the UI on the
            iPad: they do it for quality control reasons.

            But...


            There WILL be jailbreak apps for the iPad.

            Go ahead, knock yourself out.

            You paid for it. Go ahead and invalidate the warranty.

            It's like buying a Ferrari and putting a trailer hitch on
            it, but hey, it's YOURS.

            Just don't take it back to the dealership if you end up
            chipping the paint, okay?
            Jkirk3279
          • The word is INDOCTRINATED

            ...not brainwashed. There is a difference.
            deanders
          • You're just too brainwashed to realize they're the same.

            [b] [/b]
            AzuMao
        • Or you could just stick with Firefox and Thunderbird like you do on Windows

          [b] [/b]
          AzuMao
      • As opposed to Apple's products, which are left as being McDonald's in the..

        ..comparison, clearly.
        AzuMao
        • Mcdonalds, no, maybe BMW

          What happens when you buy any car?

          The features, accessories etc are all part of a locked in system.

          Or you can buy no-genuine parts and risk warranty and other issues.

          What's more most car brands have merchandise and 'fan bases' - as
          do computer companies. These 'fans' according to the stupid
          bloggers on these posts would be cultists who are ignorant, but only
          if those bloggers belong to a competing brand cult.

          This is the nature of commerce and building brand loyalty.

          What the heck is the difference with Computers, people on here think
          that computers are somehow exempt from the rules of commerce.

          As for having to learn objective-c to write apps, no you don't! Try
          Javascript/HTML5.

          As for some sites using Flash to deliver video, well there are other
          standard formats, it just became fashionable to use Flash, and now
          the platforms are changing, maybe the sites should reconsider, and
          they won't need objective-c to move on, nor would Apple suggest it,
          as it would be a stupid way to do it,a nd not what the developer tools
          would lead you to do.

          Maybe 25 years of not using something is not a sign of knowledge?

          Maybe Mr Perlow you should more research before lecturing Apple on
          how to do what they do.

          And stop making such whiney, Holier than thou, comments about
          developing for a platform you fail to understand.

          Go buy an iPad and a Mac and learn something, or don't.

          Don't claim knowledge you don't have and make wild accusations to
          justify your chosen lack of good product choice.
          richardw66
          • Damn you and your car comparisons! Get back to /.

            [i]Mcdonalds, no, maybe BMW
            What happens when you buy any car?

            The features, accessories etc are all part of a locked in system.

            Or you can buy no-genuine parts and risk warranty and other issues.

            What's more most car brands have merchandise and 'fan bases' - as
            do computer companies. These 'fans' according to the stupid
            bloggers on these posts would be cultists who are ignorant, but only
            if those bloggers belong to a competing brand cult.[/i]

            It was a fast food chain comparison, so Apple should be compared to a fast food chain too.

            Or the others should be compared to cars.


            Don't try to have your cake and eat it.

            [i]As for having to learn objective-c to write apps, no you don't! Try
            Javascript/HTML5.

            As for some sites using Flash to deliver video, well there are other
            standard formats, it just became fashionable to use Flash, and now
            the platforms are changing, maybe the sites should reconsider, and
            they won't need objective-c to move on, nor would Apple suggest it,
            as it would be a stupid way to do it,a nd not what the developer tools
            would lead you to do.[/i]
            I do not endorse the use of object oriented programming languages, and I'm not sure where you got the idea I that I do.
            Did you reply to the wrong post?

            [i]As for some sites using Flash to deliver video, well there are other
            standard formats, it just became fashionable to use Flash, and now
            the platforms are changing, maybe the sites should reconsider, and
            they won't need objective-c to move on, nor would Apple suggest it,
            as it would be a stupid way to do it,a nd not what the developer tools
            would lead you to do.[/i]

            I'm definitely not for websites serving up Flash or C source code.

            [i]Maybe 25 years of not using something is not a sign of knowledge?

            Maybe Mr Perlow you should more research before lecturing Apple on
            how to do what they do.[/i]

            Definitely wrong post. I'm neither 25 nor jperlow.

            [i]And stop making such whiney, Holier than thou, comments[/i]

            Make me.

            [i]Don't claim knowledge you don't have and make wild accusations[/i]

            You mean don't be like <a href=Christians>most people</a>?
            AzuMao
          • cars, really?

            A computer is made to create software for some use, regardless of what that is, it is ment to be fluid, to be accessible, to be changing. a car is meant to do 1 thing, move stuff from point a to b, sometimes do it really really fast, and that's it. As for locking cars in a fixed system, well its called after-market parts. Technically, you can make a car drive itself, you just need to know how to do it. as for Apple pulling a big brother on all of us, the point of a computer is accessibility. Since forever we were allowed to swap out hardware or software. Apple's own mac can do this, why not the iPad. Apple is doing one thing and one thing only, bilking out all their loyal fanbase into buying something that is stuck in 1984-land. I wouldn't be surprised if it were monitoring everything you did on it.
            KBot
          • Speaking of 1984 and monitoring everything you do..

            ..<a href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcFUpZdffSsd>do you have a cell phone?</a>
            AzuMao
      • Based on your posts, you mostly hate all Apple users.

        Don't try to sound patronizing.
        Bruizer
    • Then you really do not understand, I fear

      If you equate a day at Disney with the restrictions on the iPad, then I fear you do not understand the issue, or at least feel happy with the controls placed on you by those around you.
      GuidingLight
      • Brilliant!

        Instead of explaining it to him, just rub in what a dolt he is.

        I've gotta try that some day.
        AzuMao