The All Mighty Green One

Non sense, whining and stupid unfounded comments from the green.

Why does Steve Jobs insult us?

Like many others I am nervously and anxiously awaiting the last couple of weeks that remain until the iPhone is released in all of it’s glory. I am keeping up with the blogs, podcasts, news, keynotes and every little bit of information that I can gobble up on the subject.

One of the most interesting things I found from the initial demonstration of it, is that King Jobs insisted that this was NOT carrying a stripped down version of Mac OS X. This was the full fledged, complete with bells and whistles version of Mac OS X. They did some work for the user interface and a couple of custom applications to fit the form factor, but in essence the underlying operating system were the same. As a developer (and nerd) I immediately had a vision: I could run all of my favorite applications on this slim and sexy device. I could have all of the stuff I wanted on the go. It was almost something out of the page of a science fiction book.

Lessons have been learned in the past about third party software. Sadly they tend to break and ruin the experience which was very carefully developed for the base platform. And mobile computing platforms are not the exception. Anyone that has had a Palm or Windows Mobile cell phone can probably concur and share a couple of horror stories. There is simply no way to control this 100%.

As a new product, it is utterly important for Apple that the iPhone make the best impression possible. They have an unbelievable amount of hype behind this device. Once you promise the moon and the stars it is impossible to deliver upon that promise, but you try to get as close as possible anyway. Doing as much as possible to maintain the usability and stability of the phone itself is a very important factor in this respect. If third party applications are permitted unto the phone, this could (and probably will) lead to some crashes here and there. Jobs has publicly stated a scenario where part of ATT’s network would come tumbling down due to an application on one of the phones. I think this is a drastic exaggeration. Yet, it may become troublesome for them. This will lead to higher support costs, due to applications that don’t generate them any income. Not to mention the legions of unhappy customers which will probably blame Apple for the frustrating experience.

On the other side of this discussion, the iPhone is an excellent platform for delivering a wide range of applications. While the applications that Apple distributes are always very sexy, have an excellent user interface and are generally very popular, they don’t fulfill all needs. The phone will come with 11 pre-installed applications. All developed by Apple. It is fairly safe to assume that in the near future Apple will continue to release other applications which can be executed on their product. What if I want something else? What if I want to consume media in a format that is not supported by the available applications? What if I just want to tinker away at it?

This would also contribute to adding more developers to the Mac platform. If it really is the same base operating system, applications could be easily ported from the mac pc, to the phone and vice versa. You could interest developers in developing for the phone, and have them stick around for the other platforms. It would only help the Mac developer community to grow. Not that there is a small group of Mac developers, but their numbers are easily dwarfed by Microsoft’s group in comparison.

It would also help to make their phone platform even more popular. I could make any distributed system I want using the phone as the client interface. This gives me great flexibility. I can already dream up a couple of scenarios where this could help out tremendously.

There have been some recent rumors stating that there might be a possibility of an SDK for the device. Sadly King Jobs or Apple PR have never taken a solid stance on the matter to begin with. This just added to the rumor flames.

Then the day arrived. The day of the WWDC conference. Where we have been promised to get more enticing details on the beloved phone. Let me jump straight to the point: Regarding to this much anticipated issue Mr. Jobs responded: “We have been trying to come up with a solution to expand the capabilities of the iPhone so developers can write great apps for it, but keep the iPhone secure. […] we have the full Safari engine in the iPhone. […] And so you can write amazing Web 2.0 and AJAX apps that look and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone, and these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services. […] They’re secure, and they run securely sandboxed on the iPhone. And guess what, there’s no SDK you need! You’ve got everything you need if you can write modern web apps”. (From Gizmodo. For full article click here).

I’ve heard opinions on this matter that qualify this statement as “patronizing” or “condescending”. Let me add my own two cents. How about INSULTING?! Tell me that you will not develop and SDK for security reasons, but I can always run web apps on the phone. I will feel bummed out, but will ultimately understand their posture and try to make the best of it. Sticking a web app in my face, assuming I’m stupid, and telling me this is just as good as and SDK? Sure, let’s make a web app! I can access the phone’s wi-fi, bluetooth, multi touch and other hardware on it, right? I can have applications that run offline right? My app can live independent from the cloud, right? I can consume media that is not supported by Apple’s application standards, right? WRONG. They gave me Flash and AJAX (with whom I’m already pissed off to begin with), and told me it’s better than an SDK. At a develpers conference no less. Where people with half a brain, that actually understand half of the specs that are put on the slide show sit. C’mon Jobs! I expected more from you.

Yes, there are a bunch of great web apps. Innovation in web applications is great. Yes, Google Gears is the coolest thing sinced individually wrapped slice cheese for web developers, because it might automagically turn them into real application developers. So please don’t comment saying these things. They are old news. The fact of the matter is simple: A web application is a web application. It does not replace my local counterpart. I don’t care how cool, or fast, or interesting it looks.

Jobs has done an unparalleled job in the past of swaying the masses in his favor. He has a cult following like few other communities in the industry. He is a master in the art, and I will not try to chip away at that. One simple miscalculation though. It’s one thing to assume your users are stupid. That is very necessary for application development. I do it with every new application I build. It is quite another to say it in their face.

Will less iPhones be sold? I highly doubt it. Will I still buy mine? Sad, but probable. Yet Apple has one more unhappy camper to add to their list.

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June 13, 2007 - Posted by | apple, software, technology

11 Comments »

  1. Three words -> “Deja F**king Vu!”

    You weren’t born yet, but this happened in the early eighties, Mr. Jobs and his goonies (late eighties slang :)) thought:
    “We’ve made a personal computer that rocks! Now we need to control the software that runs in it, because hmm.. we don’t want computers bursting into flames due to some whack software, etc… So we provide the apps, and anyone who wants to make an app for our hardware, will have to go through us!”

    That of course ended with Mr. Jobs being kicked out of apple etc… While not the main or sole reason for that, probably one. Adobe moving Photoshop to windows, and other Mac only software jumping to the PC market.

    Now let me give you some info, that you may already have, the Safari engine has sucked since day 1! Yes, it’s cool, it looks, it feels and is cool, and yet to much issues, from memory corruption to DoS attacks. As a browser Safari is the nemesis of IE 6, it sucks!! Don’t believe me try it! Most mac users, use Firefox NOT Safari. In fact apple has very little tools that moderate to power user, would use.

    I still believe Mac OSX is an ok OS, a lot better than windows, and it’s one hell of a Desktop OS, but aside from that is not that special, nothing you can’t have with a well setup Unix system.

    Note I’m not talking only about programming, in the eighties
    you had a basic compiler on the mac (Yes, BASIC!) and that was fine, for the people that used basic, but for anything else you had to pay quite a bit of money, to get a professional compiler, say for C or Pascal, there were several that were “free” but still they were not easy to get. I’m talking about programs like Finale for music publishing, Photoshop, and a few others I don’t remember now.

    Those company payed large sums of money for SDK’s, programming docs and what not, because while a lot of people tinkered with the Mac II and others to come (apple didn’t like it one bit) and they were very active in making sure you couldn’t hack their machines (internally speaking).

    So in the end, what I’m saying is: “Been there done that, you can stay with your Iphone and do whatever daddy Jobs wants you to do with his product, that you payed for, but that you can’t do what you want with it.”

    So, nope no Iphone for me, thank you.

    Just to make thing clear, I believe apple products are good, I just don’t like their policies, and the crippling they are so fond of doing to their products. They to me are following maybe to a lesser degree the MS route, and have been doing so for quite a while. So good luck to you and your Iphone.

    Comment by xmonk | June 13, 2007

  2. LOL. Your wisdom never seems to stop impressing me. Never expected it to be in this fashion though. Did Jobs never pay back those 10 bucks he owes you since 1975? I don’t know why, but I notice some beef in between lines.

    Comment by tamgo | June 13, 2007

  3. Though I’ve become a huge Apple fanboy recently, I have to say I agree with you in every point. It’s not that his aproach is wrong at the core, like what you mentioned with third party apps possibly breaking the experience. But one can’t help feeling we’re being baby fed about this.

    Safari (on a Mac) may be the fastest browser I’ve used, but it’s nowhere near as featured as others to provide a substitution for a real client. Maybe, just maybe, if it had some sort of offline mode. Maybe if it was like Firefox with XUL. But the reality is that it’s not, and most likely it will be years before it even aproaches that stage. So in general, this sucks.

    And you know what’s more depressing? I’ve read somewhere that it will not support flash. It’s no surprise, since Adobe is really bitchy in that they mostly support only OS’s, no embedded devices. That’s what happened with the Nintendo DS and others. If anything, it’ll support flash 7 only.

    Comment by Ivan | June 13, 2007

  4. Unrelated to the article and directed towards xmonk:

    I disagree with your opinion on OS X. You CANNOT have the same features, integration and ease of use on Linux WITHOUT constant tinkering, modifying by hand, reading and asking in forums and in general taking a great deal of pain. I’ve tried many distros, and were always frustrated at some point and had to go back, though I did learned one hell of a lot about OS’s thanks to Linux. Maybe you don’t care about the cool UI, maybe you don’t need your calendar, password manager, dashboard, music and video players, browser and everything else tightly integrated and working in tandem. Maybe you need an OS that provides you more dev tools and better customizations (OS X does suck at customizing it). I respect that. But don’t say you can have the same experience on Linux, cause it’s simply not true. Maybe you, xmonk, can, due to your vast experience, but it’s not something normal people (read: less than 10 years in experience) can do. I’d add my examples of frustrations, but I’m already rambling on too far. Linux is an awesome OS, but it’s not fair to compare two OS’s that follow very different aproaches.

    Comment by Ivan | June 13, 2007

  5. This is directed towards Ivan:

    I was talking about the OS, as is, not the GUI hence when I said:
    “it’s one hell of a Desktop OS, but aside from that is not that special, nothing you can’t have with a well setup Unix system.”

    What I was trying to say, that if you take out the Desktop experience, it’s just another Unix based OS.

    I was not comparing OS X with Linux or any other OS for that matter in the Desktop department. I know to some it might be ridiculous to to separate Mac OS X into Desktop and OS, but it’s true, the Aqua, Cocoa and all it’s other technology for the Desktop are quite good, and do integrate very well with each other, but at the core it’s a shell of sorts, it’s well done and well integrated.

    I don’t know if you know, but there is a way, or was away to boot Mac Os X to a console (sans gui), and it works as any old *nix system.

    Those are my .2 cents.

    Comment by xmonk | June 13, 2007

  6. Back to the article, to play a little devil’s advocate, here are two iPhone apps already out (and by iphone apps, I mean sites designed for the iphone’s resolution)

    http://davidcann.com/iphone/ (Digg for iPhone)
    http://onetrip.org/index.php?pass (requires Safari, simple grocery list)

    This is all good and everything, but what if I want my grocery list without accessing the internet?

    Comment by Ivan | June 14, 2007

  7. Ivan, the links you provided are very simple web pages with a little javascript animation to mimic the drag-scroll.

    Jobs’ “discovery” of AJAX at this late point as an opportunity for developers is embarassingly stupid. The audience at the WWDC07 must have had quite a number of Apple employees present to produce an applaud at all. Silence would have been more appropriate.

    I bought two new macs today, since the machines are great, but even more so because they provide a great platform for Adobe CS3. What would Apple been without 3rd party developers?

    The we-could-not-be-more-happy-with-ourselves” presentations are amusing, but this last keynote ended with an insult, nothing less. It is sad.

    Comment by Johs | June 15, 2007

  8. I watched the whole keynote yesterday, and found it funny that when discussing the iPhone, when Steve mentioned developers, someone in the audience went “yes…yes!…. YES!!!”, possibly h was going to introduce an SDK. I bet my Macbook that that same person later went “no…no!…f*ck-sh*t-jesus NO!!”

    Comment by Ivan | June 16, 2007

  9. I think Jobs is not stupid, and he has seen that the web technologies has been very good for apple. He like Microsoft and other companies are putting all their efforts on the web, so from that point of view it makes sense that the iPhone be a web oriented device. From that perspective it also makes perfect sense to have the iPhone as a black box, why? Well you have Viruses, Trojans, DoS attacks, and many other web based attacks, and a phone like the iPhone is susceptible to most if not all of those attacks, making life yet more complex from every perspective, so closing it down, putting in place safe guards in the phone, will make it a bit more difficult to compromise the phone.

    I’m not saying they are right, I don’t think the web is the solution to most of the problems in technology, It just shifts the problems to new domains, and put a spin on how we view communication and information sharing.

    Right now apple is trying to capitalize on the web, as it has been trying to do for a few years now.

    Let’s see how it goes.

    Comment by xmonk | June 17, 2007

  10. 3 things
    – I don’t think that third-parties ruin anything, take a look at the nokia phones, remember that in order to crack something you need time and well time, so the SDK API will be provided from a weird site that will change from time to time.
    – googlegears is spyware, no really it’s like the history tracking thing, on top of that it’s not a “magical solution” you need to code your app to work on top of it.
    – so your definition of a real all is a GUI? because I don’t see how html+javascript compiled to run natively be a real app.

    Comment by Jorge | July 7, 2007

  11. about monk’s first post you may be interested in this http://diveintomark.org/archives/2007/06/30/irony

    Comment by Jorge | July 8, 2007


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