In the light of the 5,000 app purge, developers should take a look at RIM & Nokia

All of the developers I’ve spoken to this evening about Apple’s ‘5,000 app purge’ have spoken on condition of anonymity. Nobody wants to criticise Apple, it seems. (Here’s the post I wrote earlier)

I can well understand this — especially if you’ve got a good revenue stream coming from the App Store. But it does seem a little unhealthy that developers are unwilling to discuss the issue publicly.

“Can I cut and paste anonymously?” I’ve asked quite a few times in response to emails I’ve received.

“I’d rather you didn’t,” comes the frequent reply, “I just wanted to email to let you know my feelings.”

TechFlash from Seattle had a chat with Phil Yerkes, developer of the Hooters Calendar app. Hooters, being a ‘trusted’ brand is ok — and of course, Hooters is all about the concept of good looking all-American girls, rather than nude and naked imagery. So Hooters are fine and Phil is working on the, “no news is good news” policy.

Here’s one email that’s came in — I won’t identity the developer. This isn’t necessarily a view that’s shared by all the developers I’ve talked to — who seem to be working on the wait-and-see hope-it’ll-blow-over approach. It makes for interesting reading.

I’m not usually to swayed by what companies do, but Apple’s censorship has really ticked me off. OK the apps they binned were probably crap (on that basis alone, they should kill another 100,000 or so), but Apple has no right to tell me what I might be offended by.

I dumped my iPhone and picked up a Nokia N97 a couple of weeks ago, and love it. It’s not perfect, but there’s no shortage of apps, and the camera and keyboard alone blow the iPhone away in terms of daily use. If I can’t find an app I want, I’ll just make it (when I have time) with no effing about with fancy developer licenses, no need for special permission from Apple to install WHAT I WANT ONTO MY OWN DEVICE.

Plus N97 has decent (not perfect) Flash support right out of the box. I’m kind of hoping it will gain from the Flash Player 10.1 release, but maybe I’m just dreaming…

No one owns an iPhone – they are just rented. They have to be. No one would permit Apple or any other company such control over something they had actually *bought*.

It’s the devil you know.

The fact is it’s pretty easy to develop on the Apple platform. Further more the distribution mechanism is stupidly simple. I just need to tell you the name of the app and you know how to locate and install it. Purchase, installation, the whole process is magnificently suited to normal mobile users. And we all know it’s possible to make a million-a-month from an iPhone app. Even though precious few are actually (at least, publicly) achieving this.

As I said in my earlier post, this is a tremendous opportunity for BlackBerry, Nokia/Symbian, Microsoft, Palm and Android to stand-up and make it clear that they won’t be behaving like Apple.

One of the exciting points about the mobile industry is that it moves so fast. One announcement can literally change the market — so that everyone needs to turn on a sixpence. For example, the announcement of the iPhone back in Jan 2007 caused business plans and product roadmaps to be re-written. Nokia announcing that navigation is now free with all their new handsets — that’s another example of the industry having to chop and change swiftly reacting to new dynamics, new economics, new platforms. What is extremely unhelpful is when the innovation goes the other way, when all of a sudden what you thought was solid earth is now a swamp. It’s uncalled for, it’s unprofessional and it’s symptomatic of an organisation that doesn’t give a toss about it’s developer community.

This will, as usual, roll on for a little while. Michael Arrington and his team of smarts at TechCrunch will continue to exert pressure. At some point, Apple will feel it needs to wheel out Mr Schiller to placate the developer masses. Temporarily. It’s Apple’s platform. Their choice, their game. But there’s a heck of a lot of developers (and, more importantly, their financial backers — small and large) taking a second glance at the hallowed App Store and wondering… is the grass greener, yet?

Right now I’d say no. Right now if you have $50,000 to spend, developing on the Apple platform is a good bet — because you can guarantee that *getting* the application is useful. It’s your problem to get the word out, though. But if you can get the word out, if you’ve got a partner or a good way of talking to your target audience, you can be successful.

However… RIM’s BlackBerry App World is making a lot of millionaires. Nokia’s platform is hitting the million-a-day download mark consistently. There’s substantial value to being first on those platforms rather than one-of-a-thousand on the iPhone App Store. Both companies have had about a year or so to get their houses in order.

If you’re a developer and you’re reading this, take a closer look at BlackBerry and Nokia. Chances are you’re probably already looking at Android — remember that there were 6m Android units sold last year (stats) versus 34m BlackBerries and 80m Nokia Smartphones — but take a look at those two platforms. If you need any help, I can plug you straight into the right people at either company, just drop me an email (ewan@mobileindustryreview.com).

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2 Responses to In the light of the 5,000 app purge, developers should take a look at RIM & Nokia

  1. Alex Kerr February 24, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    Lots of sense here. Nokia owners have been patiently saying for ages to iPhone and Android devotees that they're barking up the wrong tree on the whole. I am a staunch advocate of anyone owning whatever phone suits them best, for some it's an old black and white model with weeks of battery life, for some it's an N97, for some an iPhone. But many developers are like a moth to a flame with the iPhone – it's oh so bright and pretty. And now they're feeling the pain, on a handset that beyond the surface layer – the UI – is inferior in so many ways to much cheaper rivals like Nokias. Of course people have had bad experiences with some Nokias. But this has turned into some crazy blanket put down and avoidance of the whole platform and plenty are going to realise the massive error in this. And Android is a nothing thing at the moment. As you say, 6 or 7m sales a year. So what? And to the right of where I am typing this I see your headline “Android: “A tart and thick as two short planks”. It's good that the light is beginning to dawn here on MIR.

    > The fact is it’s pretty easy to develop on the Apple platform.
    Yes, and it is on Symbian too. Developers should take a renewed look at the options. Personally I'm using Python. Fine performance for many kinds of apps, and way easier to achieve something than it is on alternative platforms.

    > Further more the distribution mechanism is stupidly simple.
    It's pretty good now on Ovi Store too, and getting better all the time.

    Or if you're a developer who couldn't touch Nokia with a barge pole for some irrational reason, or personal pain you've experienced and can't get over, then as you say RIM offer another large playing field.

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