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June 2, 2010

18

My Frame Update

by shiftyjelly

Since a lot of people have been asking, allow me to give you a brief update on the My Frame issue. At 12.30pm today Central Australian Time Apple removed our application from the store . This is bad of course, but at least it puts to rest all the conspiracy theorists who say this was a PR stunt. Honestly you’d have to be pretty stupid to ruin your entire development career on a stunt like that, so I have no idea why people would even jump to that conclusion, but this is the internet after all.

Apple did not call us, or send us any emails explaining what happened. In fact if you ignore Steve’s reply to my enquiry, we’ve had NO official written correspondence with Apple whatsoever, so far they have yet to put anything in writing.

So how do we feel? I should start with the obligatory Alice in Wonderland quote:

We’re all mad here

That pretty much sums up our feelings. When I say ‘our’ I’m talking about the developers and designers who worked damn hard on My Frame. Groundhog’s official position is a little more measured, but is definately worth explaining:

So for what it’s worth we only want 2 things from Apple. Clarity & Consistency. That’s it, then let us do our job and ultimately the customer will decide if we did it well.
Clarity about what we can and can’t do or develop before we spend 100s of hours and tens of thousands of dollars doing what we believe to be right.
Clarity when we’ve done something wrong as to exactly what it was and how do we fix it.
Consistency of communication and process. As an enterprise software development company, we spend half our lives working with clients to educate them about this.
Apple for one should know that software development succeeds or fails on the basis of shared understanding of requirements, consistently applied process and clarity of communication.
So when is it ever acceptable to make up the rules as you go along, don’t communicate change of requirements until you feel like it, and then to threaten to retrospectively penalise
anyone who inadvertently broke the rules they weren’t informed about.
Pretty reasonable I think.
I’d like to devote this final paragraph to all those people who wrote to us, spread the word about our removal and even bought our application while it was still in the store. We were overwhelmed and humbled by your efforts. Last time I checked we’d been covered in Slashdot, Reddit, The GuardianMacworld AustraliaTechCrunch and many, many other news sources. Also our last blog entry was read by over 50,000 people, so we really appreciate it. I hope we can resolve it with Apple, I really do, but my love of their products and former ‘fanboy’ status is now shattered. You can’t get that back trust and devotion once it’s lost. My next phone may well be branded HTC and my next laptop may well have Thinkpad written on it. That’s not going to hurt Apple one little bit, but it will certainly make me feel better.
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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wayne
    Jun 2 2010

    I couldn’t have worded it better. The notion of a `Fair Go’ is obviously something Apple just don’t get. I think our official response summed it up.

    I for one can vouch just how much integrity, blood, sweat, tears and love went we all put into that app. A harsh lesson learnt.

    I think another silver lining was the humbling experience of witnessing literally 1000s rally to our side and support us. Thank you – sincerely – to all of you for supporting us!

    I will leave my own personal opinion on Jobs and Apple elsewhere but I think you all already know how I feel.

  2. Jun 2 2010

    Wow, it is official huh? The bastards at Apple are nuts… Your app looked amazing and did all the right things. So why are you being punished on a whim when Apple and Stevio decides to make some updates?

    Punish people who do good work?

    Wow.

    Apple. Think Different.

    Yeah right.

  3. travis
    Jun 3 2010

    This comes a long with the territory, when dealing with Apple. Sucks you had to find out the hard way.

  4. Jack
    Jun 3 2010

    I am devastated once again by Apple’s actions.

    I was in the final stages of an investment deal for development of i* applications… I think, considering the implications of Apple’s policing, I will rewrite my business and investment plan to target the new Google Android tablet and other devices, rather than this closed-minded narrow thinking CEO’s view of the world.

    I don’t need to be ploughing 2 million dollars into a suite of applications for a device when the CEO will basically say “sod off” if we create something he doesn’t like. This isn’t a business. This is personal emotion influencing the income and revenue of companies, small and large, and that simply isn’t good business.

    Though I somewhat agree with disallowing Flash on the i*, I do not agree with the way Apple handled it. They waited until the week before Adobe released CS5 with Flash iPhone app packaging (even when there were many applications using the same technology on the App Store, and have been for a number of months) then dropped the bomb, costing Adobe hundreds of thousands, or even millions in R&D and development costs.

    If Apple will do that to a massive company like Adobe, what makes small developers think they’ll be treated any better?

    Sorry, Apple, but the only thing I’ll ever buy from you is a Mac, and only if the OS stays open. I will never again purchase an iPhone, iPad or iPod, and this comes from a guy who has purchased over 20 of your devices personally, and been instrumental in the purchase of thousands.

  5. Steve
    Jun 3 2010

    Make a few bucks on it. Get it listed in Cydia. I’d buy it just to support quality apps that have been rejected by Apple.

  6. abadidea
    Jun 3 2010

    So sorry :( between this and AT&T’s bait-and-switch with the ipad data plan, I’m pretty disappointed at the moment with Apple et al.

  7. Frank
    Jun 3 2010

    Hi,
    i am looking for something like myframe for my iphone. Maybe myframe will be listed at the appstore again, do you think you also develope myframe for iphone?
    Kind Regards from Germany
    Frank

  8. Jun 3 2010

    Put it this way, if and when you app does get approved again, thanks to this publicity I’m probably going to buy it. Every cloud!

  9. Jun 3 2010

    Ouch! This is the most severe case of Murphy’s Law I’ve ever seen.

    Humour aside, this totalitarian attitude is not just the preserve of Apple.

    Facebook immediately springs to mind the way it cuts people’s accounts off without warning and then makes it nigh impossible to find out why.

    eBay is another who make it very difficult to communicate with.

    Too many internet companies are building high walls around themselves and then doing whatever they like with complete disregard for their users.

    Apple’s behaviour is the worst tho, because it hurts the monetarily more than those others. As you said, “real money” has been wasted.

    I think it’s quite reasonable of Apple to want to control their platform.

    However, it’s their communication that reeks.

    Ironic that you can get more information out of their CEO, however little, than from the actual department concerned.

    What’s really missing here is:

    1) Pre-approval: In a sense you had that with the app already being on store, but what I mean is being able to submit a proposal for an app

    2) A contract: If an app is approved, then there should be a contract between Apple and the dev whereby Apple has certain responsibilities, such as thorough communication, an agreement to sell the app for at least 6 months etc.

    I really hope you don’t abandon the Mobile OS X platform because you make some awesome apps and I imagine there’s more in your future. And I don’t think the customers will follow you. I know I won’t. Sorry.

    Also, I think it’s always a risk for a dev to make a Mobile OS X app that does something “clever”, which it sounds like MyFrame did. So in some ways I’d also contend you should have known and accepted you were taking a risk – even after it was initially approved.

    I think though, aggrieved developers should band together to push Apple, probably thru lawyers or ombudsmen, to provide better communication with and support of app developers.

  10. Andy
    Jun 3 2010

    Hearing this really leaves a rotten Apple taste in my mouth. I have been a loyal Apple fan for a long time as I’m sure you have and to have that loyalty rewarded like this just plain sucks. I feel your pain. I have purchased all your apps and I would have purchased this one too. I hope you don’t abandon future developments on the iPhone/iPad platform but I can understand if you do. Good luck in the future.

  11. Jun 3 2010

    I wrote a message to Lord Jobs and to quote part of it:

    “On a related subject Steve, stop pissing off the developers and
    customers with your ‘policy on a whim edicts’ that end up
    denying or killing apps such as Wifi scanners, wireless syncing,
    widgets, etc.

    Regards,

    Customer who owns all kind of Apple Products but is Getting Tired
    of the Sour Apples from the CEO”

    Haven’t heard back yet, not that I expect to. Normally I would be salivating to hear about the new iPhone at next week’s WWDC but since it’s clear that Lord Jobs is refusing to provide a full web experience as he promised long ago, I’ll be moving on to an Android powered device to get that experience and be free of Apple’s fascistic control of the apps.

  12. Jun 3 2010

    Obviously I’m not happy with Apple’s policies, or even Steve himself, but he’s still a human being. I hope anyone that intends to write to him remembers that. Keep it polite people. By all means write to him and tell him you don’t agree with removing My Frame etc, but be nice about it :)

    I speak from personal experience, I’ve had a few really nasty emails from people over the past few days. Sure you ignore them and move on, but it hurts. Just because the internet is anonymous doesn’t mean you check courtesy at the door ;)

  13. zero
    Jun 4 2010

    This really sucks.

    Seems like another iPhone app, iGizmoz was removed as well for creating a desktop-like environment. They really didn’t duplicate apple functionality at all.

    But on the other hand, an iPad app called Needles was just approved yesterday, which definitely has widget-like functionality. So it’s really not clear what the line is. Makes it really hard for us other developers considering doing similar things.

  14. diar
    Jun 4 2010

    Hearing your story really pissed me off. While I did get some delight at the irony of the situation (you ignoring the pleas and heartache of thousands of developers and publicly supporting Apple’s policies until they affected you personally), I feel bad about the wasted time, money and effort. As an aspiring developer myself (first-year comp sci student just starting Android app development), I now have one less platform for which I will write programs.

    What bothers me the most is that Apple should be hearing from EVERY developer that its behavior is unacceptable. But like you used to be, most are self-interested and if it doesn’t affect them, then it doesn’t matter. I’d like to see a Developer Solidarity Day where for 24 hours no new apps are submitted to the App Store and everyone pulls their apps from it, all 200,000 gone. Now I know this is a pipe dream and won’t happen, but it would be a great first step for developers to take their power back.

    Until then, you’re in a unique position to highlight the App Store’s problems as former fanboy/App Store defender turned enemy. Go back to those media outlets you said contacted you months ago and offer to share your new feelings about the folks in Cupertino.

  15. lj
    Jun 4 2010

    As a fellow app developer I’ve felt the same sting of random rejections.

    Their app approval process first made me mad, now I just laugh.
    It’s a joke.

    I’m moving to the Android platform and would advice any new developer to save themselves the frustration.

  16. Jun 6 2010

    I’m somewhat surprised that nearly all independent developers don’t feel their collective heads are perpetually on the chopping block at the App Store. Haven’t you been reading the news? Did you think it wouldn’t happen to you?
    Anyone who makes an app that does anything like The Core Functions of the iPhone has either had pressure applied or had their apps rejected. Exceptions being Opera’s browser, so I can’t explain that one. Anyway I’m sorry to hear of your lost work, and I agree with Steve; go jailbroken version to spite them.

  17. Jun 21 2010

    It is interesting to note that, as of this writing, another app called Appbox Pro is still listed in the app store. This app “creates its own desktop” in a much more literal way than My Frame—it creates its own approximation of Springboard for presenting the various mini-apps it runs.

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