Appy Anniversary: Hockenberry on How the App Store has Changed, and What Still Needs to be Changed

Twitterrific developer Craig Hockenberry has written a long, considered essay on Furbo.org framing the changes Apple has already made to the iTunes App Store, what problems it still presents to developers, users, and Apple itself, and proposes some interesting solutions.

From the differences between selling music and apps, to the long delays and uncertainty surrounding the approval process, lack of viable upgrade options, ill-defined rules, inability to provide demos, inability to respond to iTunes reviews, and the lack of discoverability for apps, Hockenberry leaves few stones unturned -- nor does he throw those stones, turned or otherwise, in Apple's direction.

He comes off as a veteran developer more than a little frustrated not just at what is, but at not yet reaching the potential of what could be. One solution he proposes might be controversial -- and we've heard it from him before -- but is still more than promising:

Charge [developers] $999 for premium service. For professional developers, this cost is not prohibitive and would allow Apple to provide additional services...

He does, rightly, chastise Apple for not communicating effectively with developers -- for failing to hold up their end of the platform partnership. However, by pointing out how far the App Store has come in just one year, it leaves us with hope that given Apple's and developers' shared passion for the iPhone, it can go further still in year two.

Right Apple?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Appy Anniversary: Hockenberry on How the App Store has Changed, and What Still Needs to be Changed

14 Comments

So, Charge more money is his best suggestion?
Why? Apple already gets a substantial cut of the pie.
Its like a programmer paying Programmer's Paradise for front page billing. Its a bribe. Pure and simple.

it's not a bribe, he just wants to pay for customer service. he wants to pay for customer service because there is none and he needs customer service and, for his company, paying $1000 for customer service is a drop in the bucket compared to what they would make if they got their problems addressed.
it's not like he's wrong, the problems with the app store are big and glaring, and all of the other platforms with app stores will design around these problems.

I don't agree with him wanting to raise the app prices, he states that the iphone needs "killer" apps.. which it doesn't.. Its not a video game console.. the little $1 throw away after a week apps, are what keep my iphone interesting.. I never have to invest to much, and there is always something there for me to enjoy.. globall, stoneloops, the moron test, and the hero of sparta for instance.. plus, there are games that cost a little more, for a little more detailed fun.. I don't agree to start making apps $15 bucks, but make them "worth" that.. I enjoy grab and go.(maybe thats just me though)

@Mike:
So let me see if I understand it:
1) Apple imposes onerous restrictions requiring Review
2) Apple reviews so slowly that the developers get pissed
3) Apple claims they are swamped, but for a few dollars more.....
4) Developer pays apple for faster service.
---- repeat steps 3 and 4 as many times as you can get away with it...
5) Meanwhile All other smaller vendors are frozen out
The man wants Apple to collude with him to freeze out his competition. It most definitely is a Bribe. A payment for service he was entitled to by virtue of buying the SDK.

I'm not sure I understand where everyone is coming from. Are we saying EA should pay the same and have the same access to Apple that a developer with 1 $0.99 app should?
Typically in American business models, especially in the software industry, size and revenue drive are factors in cost and benefits, and that's often why there are different levels of partnerships.
There's already a $0 and a $99 SDK. Why not a $999 SDK partnership agreement? If both parties benefit, that's a fair and faithful contract.
Doesn't Microsoft have/plan an XBox program that costs thousands, and the mini-game program that's cheaper for casual games (I forget the initials XM somesuch?)
Not saying that's the direction Apple should go, but it's by no means an uncommon direction.
(Not sure either if we consider first class tickets on airplanes to be "bribes" to the airline either? ;) )

Rather than come up with tenuous analogies like Rene's first class air tickets, why not just look at the Apple Developer Connection, Apple's longstanding successful dev program for regular OS applications. Apple offers an ADC Select Membership at US $499.00 and a ADC Premier Membership at US $3499.00. The difference is basically the access devs get to Apple's staff plus a few freebies (like tickets to WDCC).
This is pretty much what Craig is suggesting for the App Store but at scaled down pricing. Undoubtedly Apple will eventually go to this model, both as a revenue generator and to boost offerings from major developers who demand more dedicated engineering support from Apple in developing product. The 'little guy makes good' sense that currently drives the App Store will fade over the ext year or so as the store evolves.

Shutting out the Appstore to smaller developers, and giving powerful developers too much power - would be a negative in my opinion. That's effectivetly what he is proposing. Good for him, bad for iPhone users in the end.

Summary: Apps should cost more and developers should be able to charge for upgrades because, wait for it, its better for the users.

@Rene The $0 SDK doesn't count because you can't do anything with it. Also, you left out the fact that there is a $250 SDK as well.

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