Steven Frank, co-Founder of Panic, an iPhone and software development house, has recently posted saying he is quitting the iPhone. While his statements don’t reflect the views of the company as a whole, we’ve been seeing similar complaints from other popular developers. Om Malik of GigaOM is also frustrated with AT&T and Apple and vented his frustrations a couple of months ago.
“I’m furious with Apple and AT&T right now, with regard to the iPhone” says Steven. The removal of the Google Voice application was the final straw for him, as Apple has removed several third-party Google Voice apps that had passed the approval process, leaving developers having to refund customers who had misplaced anger about the removal.
RIM on the other hand is leaving developers very content. App World has left the Google Voice client available for download, regardless of how it may compete with future native software, or what AT&T may think of the client. The software dictates the smartphone in many ways, and RIM understands that you need a flourishing developer community to drive innovation. Removing apps because they conflict with your internal strategy is going to do more long term harm than good.
According to Steven, it’s not that you should approve every single app, “it’s that rejected apps should be rejected for reasons that at the very least make consistent, logical sense, without garbage form-letter rejection notices that explain nothing, and with at least some sort of guidance available to the developer about how to fix the problem instead of meeting them with a brick wall.”
While Steven won’t be switching to BlackBerry, this is a crucial lesson for RIM and App World. While RIM has been known to reject applications based on branding (you can’t use “berry” in your app) and illegal community driven content, they are maintaining a relatively free marketplace. Let’s hope it stays that way.