Is "amateur hour" Apple's new battle cry against Google?

When introducing the new Apple TV, Steve Jobs said their customers didn't want "amateur hour". In the newly published App Store developer guidelines, Apple said their serious developers didn't want to be surrounded by "amateur hour". I may be reading too much into those specific words used in those specific contexts, but it sounds like Apple has a new battle cry against Google.

Google TV is coming. Android is surging. Google has YouTube. Google has App Inventor. Google's strength is crowd sourced, amateur content (in the best sense of the word) and they'll have to work hard to get the Hollywood deals Apple has, and the UX-focused developers already on iOS.

Apple may have 250,000 apps but after a critical mass is achieved, raw numbers are meaningless -- if not increasingly impenetrable -- to casual users. Apple may be trying to reframe the discussion from how many apps and how much content to the type of content.

If so, it's risky. It could alienate all the audio and video podcasters who helped build iTunes and indy devs who fill the App Store, and who likely take immediate offense to the use of the term. It also disregards the fact that "cat falling off piano" probably gets more views than half the schlock coming out of Hollywood these days, but it is a differentiator and in the face of Droids and Galaxy S and Google TV, Apple needs a differentiator.

Again, I might be reading too much into the sound bite, but does the idea of Apple positioning themselves as the serious development platform and Hollywood content provider give them an edge against Google and their massive, crowd sourced content?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Is "amateur hour" Apple's new battle cry against Google?


It's Steve's game- he can make the rules. Apple will thrive or die by his decisions. So far he has a pretty good track record of creating demand for his product.

Aren't Apple's customers amateur's at many of the things that we're talking about here? Apple for years has given its customers tools to make better documents, presentations, pictures, videos and audio recordings. And who uploads to services like YouTube? Clearly, they're not all Google customers. While I understand the intent and context this is a phrase and subject that needs to be handled with care because Apple's customers may be amateurs but may not like the label.

Some (most) of the best apps that the app store has ever sold we're created by amateurs, random developers making apps on their spare time, not corporate america.

I've enjoyed that utterly ridiculous game; where you are a grizzly bear, driving around a forrest/pond, throwing fish out of the sunroof - as much as I have Need For Speed...

Who really cares who sells more phones? Apple doesn't have a big pc share but they clearly still sell and are still in biusiness

To say the audio and video podcasters built iTunes is pretty specious. I understand where it's coming from; as a podcaster yourself, you're very exposed and aware of that world. As am I, I use the podcast section of iTunes more than any other. I'm not convinced that we are in the majority.
Most people don't know what podcasts are, they know wheel of fortune is on at 8:00, right after dancing with the stars. Apple sees through the tech vacuum chamber and sees the masses beyond, that's why they are so successful.
Either way, I like what you're saying, and definitely think you're on to something!

So everyone complains that App Store approval is opaque, arbitrary, and confusing. Then once Apple gives everyone what they want and detail exactly how they make their decisions, you want to complain that they're too elitist? Rene, I love you and your site, but you need to wake up and realize that is exactly what Apple is: an elitist, control-freak, perfectionist company that singly reflects its leader. And Apple is all the stronger for it. Market share will certainly suffer in the long run, but as long as Jobs can maintain a Mac-like ecosystem in iOS, he could care less.

I think you're reading to much into it. I took the comment to mean amateur web content like the channels on Boxee vs. studio shows in iTunes.

Seems like Steve Jobs was admitting that a huge proportion of the App Store is filled with "Amateur Hour" apps ... he is right. How it is a battle cry against Android is beyond me, both markets attract people looking for a quick buck off the gullible. At least the gullible on Android can refund their app if it turns out to be nonsense. Both markets need to find a way for consumers to more easily find their way to the quality apps. Meanwhile, the wider world of social media is already guiding many past the nonsense to the apps that work. Get a little tired of the playground them and us nonsense. Apple and Android both have their positives and negatives and the competition should bring benefits to we the consumers over time. Enjoy this monumental sea change in the history of computing for what it is rather than always looking for angles to snipe at that which you don't take enough time to understand and enjoy.

This is the best piece of reporting I've seen on this site in months, even though it is focusing on the smallest iota of information and purely conjecture. More of this and less of the obviously paid content and I'll stop skipping your articles, and considering removing you from my rss on a daily basis.

I think it is too much of an interpolation from Rene. Apple is positioning itself as a premium product vendor. This has been its MO for a very long time. It wants to have good stuff on its devices. What company or individual doesn't.
And Google hasn't won anything yet with Android. Who knows if they have actually made any profit from Android yet. Even now, there are rumors that Verizon and Microsoft have made deal to exclusively have Bing as the search engine on future Android devices. If true and other carriers/vendors follow, that's a recipe for disaster for Google.

Apple: "We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don't need any more Fart apps."
Google: "We have too few apps in the Apps Marketplace. We need way more Fart apps."

How is amature hour and knock at google? They want less fart style apps... Keep looking for a story when there really isn't one.

Rene: "Google TV is coming. Android is surging." Yes, Google TV is coming, but so far it looks to be only a glorified WebTV. If web browsing on big-screen TVs was a great idea, it would have taken off already because it's trivial to implement. Apple has taken a different approach, and has already laid the groundwork for App Store and apps on big-screen TVs with the new Apple TV. You'll note that iOS' current resolution is 960x640. Double that and you get 1920x1280. This is the same pixel width as HDTV's 1920x1080. A few minor adjustments and the line doubling trick for iOS 3.x apps will work on HDTV. Eventually all apps can be written for 1080 resolution and iOS can automatically scale them down by 2x for the iPod touch and iPhone. (Oh, and Android's surge will be slowed by a Verizon iPhone.)

"Google has YouTube." But does it really matter who actually owns YouTube? Apple's devices all have access to YouTube, and Google will never change that. Mac and iPhone users can publish their iMovies directly to YouTube also.

Honestly...I didn't take amateur and independent to be synonymous. There are lots of independent developers (not part of big companies) that create great apps, but I'd count them as pros. I'm imagining what Apple is saying is "Don't download XCode, create a white screen, and expect us to publish your 'Flashlight' app." I think "amateur" is referring to quality of work, not your affiliation with a big name....

My simple answer is no for everything people have against apple one can not knock them for not getting their vision across. They want to closely control things for a good user experience and have done a good job of it. Other products don't have the style and finish of apple ones there was even a article about that stigma in china where they have a wider variety of new gadgets. He was simply saying they are doing things right implying others aren't but not specifically pointed at google.

I often disagree with you Rene .. but I'm thinking the same thing.. and I always thought eventually Apple will have to go that route.. As far as popularity .. the IOS' one last cry is the Verizon Wireless.. once that happens APple will gain market share again.. but eventually it will fizzle out.. so they have to focus on making the IOS brand higher end... and that's fine... they would have maximize their profit before they go bakc to the APple niche..

@SockRolid - "If web browsing on big-screen TVs was a great idea, it would have taken off already because it’s trivial to implement."
If it's so trivial, why hasn't anyone done it? Microsoft tried with their Dell home theater back in the mid-90's (Apple even tried it with Apple TV!) but the bandwidth just wasn't there. Now it is. I for one, plan on getting a Google TV device for one simple reason: I'm tired of the cable & satellite companies.
The major broadcast channels replay their shows on their websites. Hulu also carries them. I have a NetFlix acct and there are dozens of other website where I can watch content. With Google TV, I just don't have to have my laptop hooked up and the interface will be less PC-ish. And users will have access to the Android Market. But that's another discussion.
But this distracts from the real issue. Google is trying to take over the world. Apple doesn't need to do the same. But they do need to make sure they have a presence in this world that is being formed in Google's image.

The trouble with Plr web content is the fact that people really don't work with it appropriately. People should either make use of it to generate tips for things to write about or perhaps entirely re-write it or spin and rewrite it and after that put their own name into it.