We were one of the first to send an app to Apple for iOS, back in 2008. Apple rejected it. We chose to stick to our morals and not send a new version. Quite simply, there was no guarantee Apple wouldn’t keep rejecting new versions, on new grounds. That system hasn’t changed, but all the same…
… It was a big mistake. PhoneNews.com has suffered for it, as our competitors excelled in mobile apps. Putting our morals above our business structure was ethical, but it was wrong. We almost lost PhoneNews.com in the process.
We were one of the first, if not the first (okay, simultaneously with a few others), to call out Apple’s jailed, walled garden approach to iOS apps… way back when it was very, very first announced. Since then walled garden’s confusing name has given way to the term “crystal prison“. iOS is beautiful, but you are trapped, and at the mercy of the warden; whom may or may not act in the manner that the prison appears to look. To be clear, we think Apple is a great company. We simply don’t think Apple, or anyone, should get to decide what software runs on your Pocket Computer.
Our stance wasn’t all for not. AT&T caved to pressure, from a movement we flagshipped, and now permits sideloading on their Android phones. They were the first carrier to try and block sideloading (on all devices), and we helped put a stop to that. For awhile, we gave one-star ratings to all Android phones from AT&T that crossed our desks. We were very up-front about it. It sure made reviewing phones easier, but it conveyed the message with the gravity it deserved.
That said, we pushed ahead with HTML-only. It was the wrong thing to do. We lost viewers, lost operating capital, and lost opportunities because of it.
On iOS, we’re partnering with AppMakr to put the PhoneNews.com app, once again, before Apple’s review board. I’m writing this as we just sent off the last batch of paperwork that will satisfy our certification as a developer.
We chose AppMakr because we have no plans to invest significant resources into our iOS app. We’re saying that up front, because we have no way of knowing if Apple will approve our app or not. We don’t want to sound glib about it getting accepted later on, hence we’re posting this for the world to see. No small bushiness can, or should, put their neck out so that someone else can decide if they live or die; especially not with a single, solitary decision.
This kind of crystal prison reminds me of a couple guys, in a garage, who entered a marketplace where there were no gatekeepers. No single your-business-is-dead killswitch. One of those two guys is no longer with us, the other now rallies against that same crystal prison created by the first.
In sum, we’re penning this to say that yes, we are working with Apple. But we are also doing something they really don’t like; speaking out against one of their most controversial policies. We think the ability to run any app you want, and the world’s most powerful operating system, should go hand in hand. It’s a shame that today, this is not the case.
We also feel that by participating the in the process, now that it has been tested hundreds of thousands of times, that we can better play our part in helping show Apple that this is not how things should be.
We are doubling down on Android. We are doubling down on avenues where we can distribute the apps that we have been working on, with a guarantee that you’ll actually be able to use them. Once we’ve done that, we’ll revisit our iOS app(s) and backport features in our spare time. Then there is market pressure to act as an overwatch on Apple; if our readers can do it on Android (and elsewhere), why not on iOS?
Even Apple, we feel, would be inclined to agree that this is the most sane approach for a small business to take with app development. Unless, of course, they argue that they’re insanely great. 😉
Like these kind of stances? Know your mobile stuff? We’re hiring, go take a look!