This decision is a long time coming for me: I have decided to no longer renew my paid Mac developer membership, thereby removing my apps from Apple’s App Stores. My reasons are described below.

Apple’s management of their own platform and their (allegedly) curated app store are a train wreck.

  • The App Store, which Apple claims is curated, is still filled with scam apps, malware, and other nefarious bits of software.
  • App review is inconsistent. The guidelines for submitted apps are haphazardly–perhaps even capriciously–enforced. Apple’s own apps are not subject to those guidelines, and numerous other large developers have gotten away with apps that are in violation of those guidelines.
  • Apple has consistently and repeatedly ignored the request for upgrade pricing/functionality, leading to race-to-the-bottom pricing, and developer gymnastics to get to something resembling sustainable, recurring revenue. (Apple claimed in the beginning that users would get updates for free, in perpetuity, developers be damned. Of course they didn’t care about how other developers would make money on their store. The annual cycle of hardware updates would ensure that Apple was making money.) Granted, there’s a form of upgrade pricing through in-app purchase subscriptions, but it’s still a monumental hassle to get it working correctly.

Additionally, Apple has proven to be an incompetent and overbearing gatekeeper of their platform. A device purchased by the user is the user’s responsibility, and the user has a right to run whatever they choose (operating systems and applications alike) on said device, within legal parameters. Apple maintains a stranglehold on getting apps onto a device (in the name of battery life and user security). Third-party app stores, and apps distributed thereby, are prohibited. Apple’s justification is weak at best.

It’s admirable that Apple would look out for the interests of its users, but it lacks credibility when this oversight is inconsistent and–I daresay–hypocritical. Users are ultimately responsible for their own devices and the software they install on them. If Apple really wants to safeguard the platform, they need to do a better job of it, or get out of the way.

Lastly, but not necessarily reflective of the App Store, the quality of Apple’s software, both applications and operating systems, has taken a marked turn for the worse. Even the hardware is suffering (MacBook Pro keyboards?). And Apple’s not even humble enough to admit publicly when they’ve made a mistake.

I just can’t, in good conscience, hand over an annual membership fee and subject myself to these shenanigans. Apple has gotten too big for its britches. Should they gain some clarity and become better behaved, I may reconsider.

I’m seriously thinking about abandoning the Mac and iOS as a development platform. Apple’s ever-tightening stranglehold on their platforms, along with their incompetence in managing it just make the whole thing unpalatable.