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"Too much interest" in iPhone SDK presents challenges

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
Apple Inc. is facing a rather inviting problem in the wake of last week's iPhone SDK announcement, and one that the company is all too familiar with -- a response so overwhelming that it raises questions over how well the firm is prepared to handle the resulting demand.

For instance, an article in BusinessWeek notes that while developers are genuinely pleased with the kit, some have been inhibited in their initial efforts due to a lack of guidance from the company and a slew of muddy guidelines over discussing the intricacies of the iPhone platform with fellow programmers.

"The problem that Apple has right now is, there's too much interest in the iPhone SDK," said the Iconfactory's Craig Hockenberry, one of several developers contacted by the business publication who say their questions to the company have gone unanswered for weeks at a time.

Developers wishing to author native applications for the iPhone and iPod touch must ink their named to 2,700-word non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which stipulates that they not "disclose, publish, or disseminate any confidential information to anyone other than to other registered iPhone developers" who work for the same firm.

"Many programmers feel inhibited from turning to one another for help because of the confidentiality agreement," said BusinessWeek. "The restriction hasn't stopped some developers from using public forums to answer each other's questions—though it has given some pause."

Meanwhile, venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which announced a $100 million dollar fund aimed at jump-starting third-party iPhone development, has been so inundated with proposals that it now admits it may have to increase its bounty.

According to Matt Murphy, a partner at the firm, his colleagues had a running bet over how many business plans they'd receive from prospective iPhone developers in the first 30-days following the announcement of their fund. While Murphy declined to reveal that number, he said it was easily surpassed within 36 hours.

This immediate charge on the part of developers presents further questions regarding the virtual shelf space Apple's prepared to offer third parties, adds the San Francisco Chronical, whose piece on iPhone gaming notes that id Software and Pangea Software are among the gaming houses that intend to release titles for the iPhone.

"My only concern is that everyone and their brother is jumping on the iPhone app bandwagon, so it may make it difficult to market a product when there are a zillion others coming out at the same time," said Pangea's Brian Greenstone.
post #2 of 48
I'd be very surprised if 1% of the developers who downloaded the kit at this point actually deliver a product Apple accepts in 2008. I think there were a lot of "looky-lous," stock market analysts, and wannabe hackers just seeking inside info on the device.
post #3 of 48
Quote:
"My only concern is that everyone and their brother is jumping on the iPhone app bandwagon, so it may make it difficult to market a product when there are a zillion others coming out at the same time," said Pangea's Brian Greenstone.

Yes, life is hard. You have to fight for it.
post #4 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by zanshin View Post

I'd be very surprised if 1% of the developers who downloaded the kit at this point actually deliver a product Apple accepts in 2008. I think there were a lot of "looky-lous," stock market analysts, and wannabe hackers just seeking inside info on the device.

I'm one of them : I don't even have a Mac to run the SDK ! But at least, I get access to the few videos so I get more info on the device, as any geek would do.
post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by zanshin View Post

I'd be very surprised if 1% of the developers who downloaded the kit at this point actually deliver a product Apple accepts in 2008. I think there were a lot of "looky-lous," stock market analysts, and wannabe hackers just seeking inside info on the device.

Indeed, but even 1% of 100,000 is significant. The article raises a number of valid points, and I think people are going to need to sit on their hands and wait for a few weeks before Apple clarify some points.
post #6 of 48
Quote:
who say their questions to the company have gone unanswered for weeks at a time.

How does that work? It's not even been out for a week!
post #7 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post

"their questions to the company have gone unanswered for weeks at a time. "
How does that work? It's not even been out for a week!

That's 'Journalism' for you

Why let facts get in the way of sensationalism?

This is a strange phrase, what is ... 'A rather inviting problem'?
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post #8 of 48
[QUOTE=AppleInsider;1228577]Apple Inc. is facing a rather inviting problem in the wake of last week's iPhone SDK announcement, and one that the company is all too familiar with -- a response so overwhelming that it raises questions over how well the firm is prepared to handle the resulting demand.


HOW MANY SONGS AND ALBUMS IS ITUNES ABLE TO HANDLE ?

That should answer the ridiculous assumption that Apple ( the company that invented the iPhone, created the platform and iTunes, for that matter) is not prepared to handle the business.

Get real iHeads. Apple is not a virtual company.
post #9 of 48
As an iPhone user all this news makes me happy.
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post #10 of 48
Obvioulsy a "Rather Inviting Problem" would be better stated as a "Good problem to have". However in the sentence that was written the way they phrased it works better, outside of being a bit vague on what they mean without some though to how it was phrased.

Overall for htis article, I would say, if this is the main concern of developers right now then let them be concerned. It should spur them to bring their "A game" to the iPhone so they can stand-out against the noise of all those thousands of other apps that will be flowing in. (I don't know if it will be thousands, but to hear this article it seems like hundreds of thousands. :-P)

Sounds like a good premise for a forum too. iPhone Developers Lounge. Signed Apple NDA required. Chat about issues and help each other out. Not a public forum, login required. It may or may not be allowed, but it sure seems like it would be in the spirit of Apple's NDA.
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post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoahJ View Post

Sounds like a good premise for a forum too. iPhone Developers Lounge. Signed Apple NDA required. Chat about issues and help each other out. Not a public forum, login required. It may or may not be allowed, but it sure seems like it would be in the spirit of Apple's NDA.

If you look at the article, it's talk with others "at the same firm" (in other words, if you work together at a company, etc., you can collaborate), and no, legally, the "spirit" of it doesn't count for anything. This is no different than any of the other "beta"-type software Apple puts out there for developers. The fact of the matter is that this software won't officially be available till June(?), and until then, it's under whatever NDA Apple specified.
post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by zanshin View Post

I'd be very surprised if 1% of the developers who downloaded the kit at this point actually deliver a product Apple accepts in 2008. I think there were a lot of "looky-lous," stock market analysts, and wannabe hackers just seeking inside info on the device.

I think the opposite: we will se a lot of apps even in the first weeks.
post #13 of 48
Apple needs to wise up about allowing more open collaboration for iPhone developers. By squashing communication, they only slow and retard advances that will only benefit them and consumers.

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post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post

How does that work? It's not even been out for a week!

Hasn't been "public" for a week. Doesn't mean they haven't had access already, or even just questioning apple about information before the official announcement.

But why is this shocking, considering apple never really answers questions before a product is released.
post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post

If you look at the article, it's talk with others "at the same firm" (in other words, if you work together at a company, etc., you can collaborate), and no, legally, the "spirit" of it doesn't count for anything. This is no different than any of the other "beta"-type software Apple puts out there for developers. The fact of the matter is that this software won't officially be available till June(?), and until then, it's under whatever NDA Apple specified.

But since its basically a public SDK, what exactly could you be NDA'd against?
post #16 of 48
I think we need to just relax, and not get too excited about how this is being received.
Apple is not going to have any trouble dealing with the amount of interest.
The way these numbers are being reported, the number of developers working on Apps will exceed the number of iPhones in the market place...... which is just stupid.

The numbers don't mean what it sounds like it means.
Apple will handle this just fine.
post #17 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

But since its basically a public SDK, what exactly could you be NDA'd against?

Where did you get the idea it's a "public" SDK?
You think it's freeware? (even that can have restrictions....)
post #18 of 48
In related news - Apple has a serious problem, people are buying way too many Macs and iPods.
post #19 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ikir View Post

I think the opposite: we will se a lot of apps even in the first weeks.

I agree with both of you.
Not very many of the people that download, will actually build and sell an app.
And lots of apps are going to be available day 1. (In June)
post #20 of 48
I figured there would be a flood of ideas, big and small, serious and fanciful. It'll settle down and we will get some really, really good stuff out of this.

I jumped in with an idea on day two, right after I got some time to check out the amazing SDK. I want to leverage the phone's locational abilities with the neural-net-based predicting ability of my site Myallo Online to get a thing that can predict your interests in and find interesting people, places messages and things in any town, and stuff like that there. It's gonna be swell but I bet it's the thousandth location-social proposal app they've seen that morning. Anyway, I'm up for it, and good luck to us all!
post #21 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

Hasn't been "public" for a week. Doesn't mean they haven't had access already, or even just questioning apple about information before the official announcement.

But why is this shocking, considering apple never really answers questions before a product is released.

The "public" part is the bit we're focusing on. Developers pay $99 to have technical access to Apple about the SDK. One developer has said that they haven't had a response "for weeks". Well that's rubbish seeing as they've only had access for 6 days, 4 if you only include working days.
post #22 of 48
I've seen many people comment that they're going to spend a few days learning Cocoa (from scratch!) and be able to come up with an application that will make them oodles of money.

In my experience, people will quickly discover that learning Cocoa isn't that easy if your only experience is with Java, Ruby, etc. Having a background in C doesn't help all that much, either. The learning curve is steep enough that many will quickly realize that coming up with a compelling application will be hard.

There will be much grumbling, and articles complaining about it all; and the end result will be tens of thousands of would-be developers never accomplishing much (other than learning a bit about how a modern IDE should work and the rudimentary aspects of object-oriented programming!).

The developers who have been working with Cocoa for some time will create astounding applications, make enough money to compensate them for their efforts, and propel this new platform into a new age of handheld computing devices.

I am ever so grateful that I decided to start learning Cocoa when OS X first came out!!!
post #23 of 48
Quote:
(other than learning a bit about how a modern IDE should work and the rudimentary aspects of object-oriented programming!)

Heh. XCode is years behind the IDEs available in virtually all other languages. It's made great strides in the last couple versions, but it's still seriously lacking. In part that's a side-effect of having gcc be the core engine-- gcc was not made with GUI integration in mind. In part it's a side-effect of Objective-C syntax being much harder to introspect than Java, C#, or some of the more recent scripting language, making real-time refactoring, validation, and auto-completion a shadow of what's been available in other environments for years. Some of it is former NeXT folks wedded to their 1980's idea of what an IDE should be like.

Anyway, the SDK is some quality work and will enable great things, but don't fool yourself into believing that Apple has anything to teach anyone on how to make a great IDE. They're still playing serious catch-up.
post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post

If you look at the article, it's talk with others "at the same firm" (in other words, if you work together at a company, etc., you can collaborate), and no, legally, the "spirit" of it doesn't count for anything. This is no different than any of the other "beta"-type software Apple puts out there for developers. The fact of the matter is that this software won't officially be available till June(?), and until then, it's under whatever NDA Apple specified.

I have participated in "private beta" programs under NDA from other companies-- Macromedia/Adobe ColdFusion, for example. The company provided a closed forum where developers were allowed to discuss problems, ask questions, make suggestions, etc. The forum was monitored (and participated in) by Company people with technical, editorial and marketing responsibility (up to the Director level). I felt the concept and execution were great-- the Developers got their questions/problems/sugsestions heard, addressed and mostly resolved. The company got valuable feedback, and was able make significant improvements to the product before release.

To sum up, the Company and the Developers were on the same page-- a quality Product was released on-time with Developer exploitation of it concurrent with its release!

To be fair, all the Apple Evangelists in the SDK videos solicit developer input and publish their email addresses at Apple... ...I have not used this path.

But, it is not the same as being being able to freely discuss with ones peers as well as Apple representatives.

I hope Apple implements something like the above!
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post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post


Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...Craig Hockenberry, one of several developers contacted by the business publication who say their questions to the company have gone unanswered for weeks at a time. ...


How does that work? It's not even been out for a week!



my exact question. were they sending apple emails based on rumors of an SDK *prior* to its announcement? no wonder they went unanswered....
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by dws View Post

I've seen many people comment that they're going to spend a few days learning Cocoa (from scratch!) and be able to come up with an application that will make them oodles of money.

In my experience, people will quickly discover that learning Cocoa isn't that easy if your only experience is with Java, Ruby, etc. Having a background in C doesn't help all that much, either. The learning curve is steep enough that many will quickly realize that coming up with a compelling application will be hard.

I think part of the problem is that they had a couple reps from other companies show off their apps and say "look at what we made in two weeks!". They didn't seem to be developers that have been exposed to Apple's system either. But how they presented it was quite a stretch, maybe they had people in Obj-C/Cocoa training for a few months in preparation.
post #27 of 48
Wow, I'm looking forward to 1000 shopping list applications, 10 of which actually learn what you get every week and one of which which integrates into a recipe website and uses your budget to pick a weekly menu of goods, presents them to you to approve, then orders the goods online from the most cost effective locations.
post #28 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbrasington View Post

Where did you get the idea it's a "public" SDK?
You think it's freeware? (even that can have restrictions....)

It is Public in the sense that anyone (i.e. the public) can access it. So basically all Apple is doing with their NDA is keeping everyone from talking to everyone else, but everyone can know what's going on in there.

I never said it was freeware (and freeware isn't necessarily 'public' at all, it may be closed source, just not having cost).
post #29 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Apple needs to wise up about allowing more open collaboration for iPhone developers. By squashing communication, they only slow and retard advances that will only benefit them and consumers.

This "wising up" will likely occur in around 3 months when the SDK is no longer beta.

Of course at that point, there will probably be a 2.1 which is under NDA.
post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

Wow, I'm looking forward to 1000 shopping list applications, 10 of which actually learn what you get every week and one of which which integrates into a recipe website and uses your budget to pick a weekly menu of goods, presents them to you to approve, then orders the goods online from the most cost effective locations.

I'm looking forward to the big-hearted souls who test all 1000, find out which 10 actually work, and report back in a review that only one is worth considering!

post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

But how they presented it was quite a stretch, maybe they had people in Obj-C/Cocoa training for a few months in preparation.


There are many programmers who are already familiar with multiple languages. And also many good programmers can read the specs for a language they don't know and can be up and coding in it over a weekend.
post #32 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

Heh. XCode is years behind the IDEs available in virtually all other languages. It's made great strides in the last couple versions, but it's still seriously lacking. In part that's a side-effect of having gcc be the core engine-- gcc was not made with GUI integration in mind. In part it's a side-effect of Objective-C syntax being much harder to introspect than Java, C#, or some of the more recent scripting language, making real-time refactoring, validation, and auto-completion a shadow of what's been available in other environments for years. Some of it is former NeXT folks wedded to their 1980's idea of what an IDE should be like.

Anyway, the SDK is some quality work and will enable great things, but don't fool yourself into believing that Apple has anything to teach anyone on how to make a great IDE. They're still playing serious catch-up.

How is "better" defined in programming? Was always curious about this because of what I've seen in real world. Everyone has a different opinion but what I see in my own experience is that my Macs have always been more stable than my Windows or Linux boxes. Maybe this is a fluke but it hardly seems likely since the experiences for me have been repetitive (having owned multiple Macs & PCs running many different OS builds).

I can understand differences may exist in ease of programming or theoretical possibilities but in the end isn't what is better defined by what is more stable & functional?

I don't pretend to know these answers, as a non-programmer I'm asking to be convinced why I should care if it was written in C# vs Objective-C? All I care about is that the app works & that it is freakin awesome!

By the way, I'm a command line geek so I like that most of my gui apps are a pretty face on an awesome command line utility.
post #33 of 48
Let's get ready for all of the lawsuits

Hey, I'm working on that idea!

Hey, I did that already!

Damn it, that's what I'm working on!

Oh well, I guess we'll just have to sue these folks for coming out for it first!, And let's sue Apple as well, I mean, if they hadn't made the SDK available, no body would have come out with this before me, therefore I MUST be entitled to some compensation … right.

Skip
post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by OriginalMacRat View Post

There are many programmers who are already familiar with multiple languages. And also many good programmers can read the specs for a language they don't know and can be up and coding in it over a weekend.

It is true that a good programmer can pick up a new language quickly, because there
are only a limited number of programming constructs and differences between
languages mostly amount to differences in the syntax used for the basic constructs.
Learning a new environment, like Cocoa, is different however. There is a large quantity
of details specific to frameworks, API's, classes which just have to be learned in order
to have a command over all the elements required for designing and coding an application.
This takes time. (or not)
post #35 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by hezekiahb View Post

How is "better" defined in programming? Was always curious about this because of what I've seen in real world. Everyone has a different opinion but what I see in my own experience is that my Macs have always been more stable than my Windows or Linux boxes. Maybe this is a fluke but it hardly seems likely since the experiences for me have been repetitive (having owned multiple Macs & PCs running many different OS builds).

I can understand differences may exist in ease of programming or theoretical possibilities but in the end isn't what is better defined by what is more stable & functional?

I don't pretend to know these answers, as a non-programmer I'm asking to be convinced why I should care if it was written in C# vs Objective-C? All I care about is that the app works & that it is freakin awesome!

He didn't necessarily say that Objective-C or Cocoa was bad or worse than similar systems. He's just saying that there can be excessive expectations on the ability to learn both. Personally, I'd suggest finding some non-Apple introduction to both, I've Apple's "getting started" developer documentation to be fairly obtuse for that particular use.
post #36 of 48
[QUOTE=breeze;1228595]
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple Inc. is facing a rather inviting problem in the wake of last week's iPhone SDK announcement, and one that the company is all too familiar with -- a response so overwhelming that it raises questions over how well the firm is prepared to handle the resulting demand.


HOW MANY SONGS AND ALBUMS IS ITUNES ABLE TO HANDLE ?

That should answer the ridiculous assumption that Apple ( the company that invented the iPhone, created the platform and iTunes, for that matter) is not prepared to handle the business.

Get real iHeads. Apple is not a virtual company.

But this points out the fact that the App Store needs to handle 2 issues:
1) the number of apps, and the organization needed to make finding what you need easy (categorization, feature summaries, etc.)
2) institution of a ranking system (ala eBay buyer/seller rankings) that give users a clue as to the quality of the app and a way of encouraging or warning off others.
post #37 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbrasington View Post

I think we need to just relax, and not get too excited about how this is being received.
Apple is not going to have any trouble dealing with the amount of interest.
The way these numbers are being reported, the number of developers working on Apps will exceed the number of iPhones in the market place...... which is just stupid.

The numbers don't mean what it sounds like it means.
Apple will handle this just fine.

Well, what will happen will be that the developers of the 5,000 versions of Suduku will complain that their app is being crushed under the jack-booted heel of the fascist Jobs.
post #38 of 48
Think there's anything we can learn about how Apple will handle this from the 'downloads' section of Apple.com? Seems like a similar model... they host apps that (I assume) they've vetted.
post #39 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by hezekiahb View Post

How is "better" defined in programming? Was always curious about this because of what I've seen in real world. Everyone has a different opinion but what I see in my own experience is that my Macs have always been more stable than my Windows or Linux boxes. Maybe this is a fluke but it hardly seems likely since the experiences for me have been repetitive (having owned multiple Macs & PCs running many different OS builds).

I can understand differences may exist in ease of programming or theoretical possibilities but in the end isn't what is better defined by what is more stable & functional?

I don't pretend to know these answers, as a non-programmer I'm asking to be convinced why I should care if it was written in C# vs Objective-C? All I care about is that the app works & that it is freakin awesome!

By the way, I'm a command line geek so I like that most of my gui apps are a pretty face on an awesome command line utility.

While there are definitely 'best practices' that apply across all languages, I think its a bit of a stretch to propose (as some have) that anyone who's good in one language is necessarily going to be as good in another relatively quickly.
Its one thing to know syntax and structure, and quite another to be familiar with the enormous number of classes available in a new platform, and even more, how to properly use and integrate them.
Add to that that most developers can't write a proper interface to save their lives, and I think really great apps will still be few and far between.
post #40 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post

If you look at the article, it's talk with others "at the same firm" (in other words, if you work together at a company, etc., you can collaborate), and no, legally, the "spirit" of it doesn't count for anything. This is no different than any of the other "beta"-type software Apple puts out there for developers. The fact of the matter is that this software won't officially be available till June(?), and until then, it's under whatever NDA Apple specified.

I realize what it said. That is why I said what I said and not that it would be just fine. Apple is trying to protect their platform. However the only way they can ensure that is to tell you that you can only work with people from your company that you know have signed NDA's with Apple. If you could make a community that has the same thing and could prove it to Apple, I doubt they would have a problem with it. Hence, the spirit of the contract. Do you deny that something like that would be good for development?

Most likely Apples own development site may see something like that created.

I understand NDA's and what they mean. I am not bound by any Apple NDA's at this time so I can say whatever I want, and I do not advocate breaking NDA's just because they seem artificially limiting.

If you want to argue just for the sake of argument you have come to wrong place.
NoahJ
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