Monday, 7 January 2013

Apple Developers

My team has an iPhone app, that was originally developed over a year ago. It's not great, developed by a third party who clearly didn't understand our core product, but it was a good start. The project manager at the time got us onto the Apple Enterprise Developer Program because it was envisaged that we'd only distribute the app per client, through their existing secure web interface.

I arrived and decided that we needed to make the app generic (rather than recompiling it each time for each client) and distributed through the App Store. The Apple Enterprise Developer Program was up for annual renewal in December so I renewed, thinking that, since it cost double the Basic Developer Program, that it would be an extension of the basic Program. That I could simply log into iTunes Connect and publish our app to the App Store.

But no.  I had to pay extra for the Basic Developer Program. Not only that, but the only way I could find this out was by phoning their support people. The Developer website was curiously dumb (user unfriendly, Apple?) about my options. It also listed the Programs I was enlisted on as though I could join multiple Programs, yet is seems I could not. Even the support staff person seemed surprised that I could not add the Basic Developer Program to my existing Enterprise Developer Program license.
So now I have to start the entire licensing process from scratch. If you've never done it, it is a palaver involving Dunn & Bradstree numbers, certificates galore (user certificates, app certificates etc.) and patience. Lots of patience.

All this so that I have the privilege of paying them 30c of each App Store-earned $ - the so-called Apple Tax. I'm not adverse to paying taxes if they are going towards a good cause, but when they're forcing me to pay twice for effectively the same thing (the Basic Developer Program), and then taxing my revenue stream I have to ask why I should bother.

The reason most people bother is because it's the "Jesus Phone", the darling of trendsetters and jetsetters all over the world. But the sheen is starting to fade, and the competition has not only closed the gap but they appear to be evolving faster. Faced with such adversity, the key audience you must do everything to retain are your loyal acolytes: the developers.  That is the true essence of Microsoft's longevity, and Apple would do well to learn from it.