Crap Store

Say you don't care one whit about developer freedom, or owning the device you spent $1,449 on (a figure known in the industry as an arm and a wheel). The App Store is still a tremendously bad idea if you want good applications that work.

As detailed, Phil Schiller offers this excuse:

"You download the app and it doesn't work, that's not what we want on the store," says Schiller. This, he says, is why Apple requires in-app purchases to offer the same purchasing functionality as they would have elsewhere.

The amount of contortion this line of logic requires is unconscionable, and is the kind of reasoning that make people believe salespeople do not trigger automatic doors. The reason it doesn't work is because Apple's own damn guidelines prevent developers, reasonable people the lot of them, from including functionality that would make it work, and also feed their employees, kids and household pets. It allows it if you use a payment method that would require custom development and nick 30% off the top. Since this is so reasonable, I'm sure Apple wouldn't mind the principle of giving up similar amounts of money in the name of communal development into the many ecosystems they so wildly benefit from, not just in terms of personal talent but in enabling people to purchase high-margin products in the first place. Oh, wait.

If we allow ourselves to tease apart the thinly-disguised organizational avarice from Mr Schiller's statement, a trace of a soup├žon of a reasonable usability concern can be detected: it would just suck if apps weren't usable and weren't good. The problem with that is that the App Store, for all the relatively recent improvements to its storefront and editorial articles, still has a rampant shovelware problem. It's entirely possible to go looking for something you know you want and come out with something else, and it's entirely possible to find 25 apps with no thought or care put into it for every app that is even merely competent.

The App Store has been a crappy idea from the very start. It serves only the monopolist owner, and all compromises break in favor of them and against the other party, be it the developer or the end user. The only winners aside from Apple are a few app developers that manage to beat all odds and achieve success (often fueled by loss-and-viability-insensitive venture capitalists who don't mind playing foul to grab market share) as well as the unscrupulous corner of humanity that always show up to squeeze what they can get from the naive, the weak and the misinformed. Users get left behind and developers pose the same well-reasoned feedback year after year after year, without anything changing.

I have no idea if it will take the US or EU torching it for things to change, but it baffles me that the bundling of a web browser was considered a bigger problem than this. One way or another, it's way past due for the App Store and its share-cropping mockery of users and developers alike to burn clean to the ground.

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