Developing Perspective

Show 0.2


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to episode 0.2 of Developing Perspective.

00:00:05   Developing Perspective is a near daily podcast by me, your host, David Smith, talking about

00:00:13   what I find interesting.

00:00:15   And I'm an independent iOS developer, Mac geek, general technophile.

00:00:20   So if those kinds of things interest you, this may be the place for you.

00:00:24   The show format's fairly straightforward.

00:00:27   I'm going to walk through a couple of interesting links from yesterday's news, and then I will

00:00:35   typically have sort of a more general discussion towards the end.

00:00:39   The show will never be longer than 15 minutes, so it's hopefully a nice little adjunct to

00:00:44   your day rather than a heavy investment.

00:00:47   And without further ado, let's get started.

00:00:50   If you're an iOS developer, one of the biggest bits of news yesterday is that Apple has rebounded

00:00:57   the pricing of their international app stores. So this means that for most

00:01:04   developers it looks like you'll probably make more money, or at least for a

00:01:11   typical app, mostly because the price increased in the UK market, which in my

00:01:18   experience anyway is the second largest compared to all the others. So as an

00:01:25   example I was looking at my recent sales. This is for the last 30 days and the US

00:01:35   was by far the big leader. And then the next largest market is the UK which is

00:01:43   about 20% as large as the US market. And then all of Europe is still not as large

00:01:51   as the UK market. So, in general, by raising the price there, they, I think by ten pence,

00:02:00   is, that's just money in the bank for most iOS developers and generally good news. If

00:02:07   you were an Australian app developer or a Japanese app developer or have apps that are

00:02:13   particularly popular in those areas, you may be hurting a little bit as a result of this

00:02:18   if they lowered the prices there by commensurate amount.

00:02:21   And this is all just to sort of balance

00:02:24   out the exchange rate discrepancies that have existed

00:02:28   since the App Store was launched a couple of years ago.

00:02:30   Where as the pound has gotten stronger

00:02:33   or the Australian dollar has gotten weaker or stronger,

00:02:36   those discrepancies became pretty substantial

00:02:39   where you actually make quite a substantially different amount

00:02:43   of money in one market versus another.

00:02:46   So, good thing to look for, something to notice, and hopefully more money in the bank.

00:02:53   Secondly, a little bit of follow-up to yesterday's show where I talked about how Tapbot's Tweetbot

00:03:02   is now my go-to iOS Twitter client.

00:03:09   They posted a little blog post yesterday which was great news to anybody who likes Tweetbot,

00:03:16   they are bringing push notifications to Tweetbot in the next update.

00:03:22   There are a few caveats.

00:03:23   You should go look at the post in the show notes if you're interested.

00:03:27   But essentially, for the first 10,000 users who sign up for them, so when you open up

00:03:34   the app and it says, "Would you like to enable push notifications?"

00:03:37   You say yes.

00:03:38   And as long as you keep one of those active, they will now be providing push notifications

00:03:44   for you, which is delightful. So you can see when someone direct messages you, when you

00:03:49   get mentioned, those types of things. I'm sure it's however you set up the settings.

00:03:54   It's also an interesting post if you are a bit of a geek to kind of get a sense of what's

00:03:59   involved in actually building a Twitter push notification system. It's actually pretty

00:04:04   involved using their streaming service, and it sounds like quite a bit of engineering.

00:04:09   So definitely check that out.

00:04:13   The last post, or link that I'm going to talk about at the beginning of the show today is

00:04:18   a really interesting diagram that I found linked, which was originally done by Andrew

00:04:26   Durden.

00:04:27   And it's basically a schematic diagram of all the different ways that the iOS home button

00:04:35   is used.

00:04:37   And as much as you may think you know how it works, you probably don't because it's

00:04:43   quite remarkable that from any particular area you can do so many different things.

00:04:51   If you double tap from the home screen, you get to the multitasking screen.

00:04:55   From there, if you triple tap, you'll access the accessibility menu.

00:05:00   If you've--from there or if you were back on the multitasking screen and you double

00:05:07   tap, you're moved to your previous screen.

00:05:09   From there, if you single tap, you can do all these other things.

00:05:12   And so it's just kind of a fascinating thing where you can--it's interesting from usability

00:05:16   perspective because a lot of people have noted that Apple is kind of singular in just having

00:05:22   a single home button.

00:05:26   And it makes the usability of the app so much simpler.

00:05:30   Even sort of people are very unfamiliar with technology, there's only one button.

00:05:35   And when you do it, it tends to do the thing that you would most likely want.

00:05:40   And as a result, that works pretty well.

00:05:44   So just something to check out if you like that kind of stuff.

00:05:49   All right.

00:05:50   Alright, so now I'm going to transition into the main topic for today's show.

00:05:57   And that's going to be a little discussion on software patents.

00:06:03   And mostly I'm bringing that up because Craig Hockenberry of the Icon Factory posted an interesting article entitled

00:06:17   and fall of the independent app developer.

00:06:21   And the thing that's basically he's talking about here is,

00:06:26   if you're doing it with the background,

00:06:27   the icon factory was included in the recent LOD-SYS patent

00:06:35   infringement cases.

00:06:36   So they're essentially being sued over Twitterrific

00:06:39   and I believe specifically their in-app purchase

00:06:43   to upgrade the application.

00:06:45   where it was Twitterrific, when you just get it, it's a free app,

00:06:49   but includes advertising, and it can only work for one account.

00:06:52   If you purchase the in-app purchase, then you can use it

00:06:57   on any number of accounts, and the ads go away.

00:06:59   And basically, they're being sued, saying that they infringed

00:07:04   on this company, LODSIS, as patents of that.

00:07:10   And, I mean, from my perspective, that's just horrific and sort of indefensible that we

00:07:19   live in a legal system where someone who makes excellently well-crafted software that does

00:07:25   a very obvious thing has to be worried about that.

00:07:30   But that's kind of a different discussion.

00:07:32   What Craig is talking about here, and that is so worrying as an independent app developer,

00:07:40   his concern is more that what it will do is swing the pendulum back from small independent

00:07:50   teams or individuals making applications to forcing it to be only large, medium-sized

00:07:59   corporations that are able to do it, companies like EA or similar, where you--they have a

00:08:07   legal department.

00:08:08   a standing group of lawyers who are more than happy to defend the company against whatever

00:08:13   it is that's going on.

00:08:16   And that would just be a horrible thing.

00:08:19   Here's a quote from the article.

00:08:22   And of course, only large companies and publishers can bear these costs, these legal costs.

00:08:27   My fear is that it's only a matter of time before developers find the risks and expenses

00:08:32   prohibitive and retreat to the safety of a larger organization.

00:08:35   We'll be going back to square one.

00:08:37   And I couldn't agree more.

00:08:39   If that happened, it would just be a horrible step back because you would lose so much

00:08:46   of the agility of the -- I hate using that word, but of that flexibility,

00:08:51   maybe is a better use, of small developers taking for them large risks and expanding

00:08:59   and learning things that a large organization probably wouldn't be able to do.

00:09:05   That would be taking very slow risks, kind of meandering their way along, and that's just horrible.

00:09:11   I really hope that he's wrong, and I really hope that Apple's motion to intervene in this case

00:09:19   and those recently related, you know, progressions in the actual legal case get sorted out quickly.

00:09:26   And I guess at this point that's just a hope.

00:09:30   It's hard to know anything from that.

00:09:32   But an interesting follow-up related but not as a direct follow-up to Craig Hockenberry's article was

00:09:43   in an article on Marco.org where he was talking about Google's recent patent problems.

00:09:49   And here's a quick quote from him.

00:09:51   "The best thing to happen to software patent disliking geeks might be for Google

00:09:57   to get their ass kicked a bit by patent litigation.

00:10:00   So they're motivated to challenge the patent system

00:10:02   from more seriously than any of us ever could."

00:10:06   End quote.

00:10:07   And I think that is spot on.

00:10:10   I think what really needs to happen

00:10:12   for software patent litigation to get sorted out is

00:10:18   for a large organization, someone like Google,

00:10:20   someone like Apple, someone who is a large company

00:10:25   with a large war chest and some actual clout to be

00:10:29   on the receiving end of the pain and suffering

00:10:32   that is software patents.

00:10:34   And I'm very glad they lost that recent Nortel patent auction

00:10:39   and as a result they may now find themselves in a position

00:10:45   where they either have a patent cost of having

00:10:48   to license all these patents in order to do their work

00:10:51   or they could take the other alternative and say, you know,

00:10:54   we're going to take the money that we could be spending there

00:10:58   and instead put it into our lobbying and our legal defense

00:11:02   and those types of things and go after the system itself.

00:11:04   And if they do, we would all be the better for it.

00:11:08   I think my summary on software patents, I was kind of thinking

00:11:13   about it yesterday and I think the thing

00:11:15   in summary why software patents are so repulsive to me

00:11:20   and to every other developer I know is

00:11:24   that a software patent is a system

00:11:28   that values the idea over the execution.

00:11:31   And if there's anything I've learned in software development,

00:11:35   it's that execution is immeasurably more valuable

00:11:39   than an idea.

00:11:41   Say, I mean to quote, so the social network, right,

00:11:44   if you'd invented Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.

00:11:48   If you have an idea for something but you're unable

00:11:51   to execute that, that is irrelevant, that is useless.

00:11:57   It's like, well, great.

00:11:58   Software is all about execution.

00:12:00   It's the difference between taking the time, the effort

00:12:04   to really develop a quality product and not.

00:12:08   And so I think that's why for me anyway that is just so repul--

00:12:13   sort of software patents are so repulsive

00:12:15   because I've changed that entirely and I may

00:12:17   as well just be sitting around coming up with ideas,

00:12:19   writing a patent application, waiting for my checks

00:12:21   to get cashed, and that's horrible.

00:12:23   Lastly, which is I guess a bit of a pro--

00:12:27   sort of an epilogue to today's show,

00:12:31   there's a fascinating article that was linked

00:12:35   to from Craig Hockenberry's article called The Life,

00:12:39   and this is a very old, back from 2005 article

00:12:43   on the Daring Fireball, and it's talking

00:12:45   about when Net News Wire was initially acquired,

00:12:49   and talking about what it is to sort of sell out as a software engineer,

00:12:55   specifically a small software engineer, and go from being independent

00:13:02   to having a large organization acquire what you do and the benefits

00:13:08   and drawbacks associated with that.

00:13:11   And it's just a really interesting article.

00:13:13   If you're independent or you've thought about being independent,

00:13:16   it's definitely something that I would recommend reading.

00:13:18   as it's a very well-written discussion of the challenges

00:13:21   that a small development shop entertains as well as some

00:13:26   of the benefits that it has and makes you think about, huh,

00:13:30   wonder what it would be like to be bought out,

00:13:34   what that would look like if that's for me.

00:13:36   So I just definitely would recommend looking that up.

00:13:40   All right, that's today's show.

00:13:42   Hope you enjoyed it.

00:13:43   Next, some things you might want to look for in tomorrow's show.

00:13:47   I think I'll have a pretty big response to this week's Build and Analyze episode with

00:13:52   Marco.

00:13:53   He's talking about specifically his discussions on iAd, which are very different than the

00:13:57   experiences that I had, though I agree with much of what he says.

00:14:01   So we'll have a bit of that, and we'll just have to wait and see what news unfolds.

00:14:06   Maybe Lion will come out.

00:14:08   Maybe new MacBook Airs will come out.

00:14:10   Who knows?

00:14:11   Anyway, until then, have a good day and happy coding.