This week, Apple unveiled its iPhone 3.0 OS and wowed the world with new APIs and the addition of basic features that other mobile phones have had for years. But while the company is getting huge praise for its shiny phone OS, it still drops the ball when it comes to tending to its developer community. According to Wired, one vendor is in the hole $600,000 due to Apple's neglect.
Eric Thomas, CEO of FreedomVoice Systems, told staff this week that the company is ceasing indefinitely any work on an iPhone voice app, called Newber, because Apple will neither accept it nor reject it. FreedomVoice has so far invested $600,000 and more than half a year in the app.
"We followed all guidelines set by Apple throughout the development process and have never received comment from Apple as to why the Newber application has still not even been reviewed," Thomas wrote in a letter to FreedomVoice staff, provided to Wired.com. "Steve Jobs hailed the App Store as, 'the best deal going to distribute applications to mobile platforms.' Our experience is that it is the worst deal going."
It's bad enough that Apple stands as gatekeeper between developers and users, but to fail developers by keeping their apps in limbo for six months.
We should be surprised that Apple hasn't gotten on the stick with its developer community. The iPhone is slick, to be sure, but it's nothing without all the 3rd party apps that make it truly useful. And alternatives are starting to emerge.
Though none of the major contenders are truly "open" in every sense of the word, Android and others are much more open than Apple -- and apparently understand the developer community a bit more. If Apple doesn't get a clue, it may well see Android and others taking a bite.
It'd be nice to see Apple be more open here -- coming from a FOSS background, I can't identify with the concept of giving a single entity the right of deciding what applications may be shipped to users. But if you accept the idea that Apple should be a gatekeeper, the company could at least communicate with its developer community and give timely feedback.