DQ: What should we think of Apple-bashing App Store developers?

[Daily Questions (DQs) — where we post one question per day for discussion — are back.]

Netherlands-based Layar is one of the better known ‘augmented reality’ mobile browsers that started out on Android. You can also find it the Apple App Store. Layar CEO Raimo van der Klein, however, isn’t a fan of Apple or AAPL.

From Raimo’s recent Twitter stream, following the Apple-bashing opening at Google’s I/O developer conference:


The next day, taking it up a notch:


Here we have a curious case of a CEO of an “App Store developer” literally advising people on Twitter to dump their Apple stock (on a day where AAPL gained $4.56/1.92% to $242.32). Raimo isn’t sure how or if Apple will survive the year, given his giddy outlook on the just-announced Google/Android news.

Clearly, Raimo has a right to hold his opinions and to try to short Apple’s stock in his own way. It’s also pretty obvious where he thinks the future of mobile apps is. He is a cross-platform developer, with no allegiance to an ecosystem which feeds him and his company.

When Apple looks after its own and its customers’ interests by essentially saying if you want to play in our garden you need to play with our tools and rules (think section 3.3.1), it’s branded as evil. When cross-platform developers display such naked disregard and active hostility towards Apple and its financial welfare that makes the App Store possible, what do we think about their mercenary attitude?

What should we think of Apple-bashing App Store developers?

30 thoughts on “DQ: What should we think of Apple-bashing App Store developers?

  1. To my mind lack of intelligence and stupidity are not the same thing at all even though most people consider they are synonymous.

    A lack of intelligence is a genetic shortfall (think amoeba) or an accident of procreation (think humans). The afflicted cannot help their condition.

    Stupidity, on the other hand, is a personal choice, it can be repented of, and that sincere act is often the precursor to a cure.

  2. I think it’s lovely when people write all these words that later they can eat. I was in a bar two days ago and looking around, of approximately 20 people, only two didn’t have an iPhone and weren’t tapping away on it with the joy of someone who enjoys the technology. With Apple struggling to keep up with demand for the iPad, and soon the new iPhone, i think reports of its demise are beyond premature

    • I don’t completely disagree: It’s about Apple interest more than customer interest. Likewise, the outcry by developers for “freedom” and “choice” is not about customer interest either. I don’t see many customers saying, “Man, I wish there were more apps that worked as awfully as the Java, AIR, and other cross-platform apps on my PC!” except the ones who have a grudge against Apple and will always hate them no matter what.

  3. Maybe Layar knows they won’t survive the jump to iPhone 4. If it does show up on iPhone 4 then I don’t know. It’s rated at 2.5 stars, crashing is the most common complaint, but it’s free. Doesn’t sound like Layar is too heavily invested into Apple. It’s examples like this that lead me to believe more and more that iPhone 4 is on the right ‘quality vs quantity’ track. Next up might be a PLUS Apple endorsement that goes with some sort of premium developers program.

  4. From the Layar’s website

    “Layar highly values a great user experience – reason why we have an approval system for layer publications. It is remarkable that of all the requests for publication, we have to reject around 50% due to technical issues”

  5. I agree, the Dutch are frequently loud-mouthed and arrogant, which they excuse as “being honest.” (Lived there for 12 years, know what I’m talking about!) But these tweets are just juvenile, and inappropriate for a CEO of any company from any country – even if they had a foundation in truth – which they don’t.

  6. It seems the echo chamber is running wild with Apple bashing lately. To me it doesn’t make sense to bash a platform that your business is built on when there is a more productive direction to send those complaints. The stock comments are just dumb but there is no shortage of rumor mongers and analysts who try to manipulate stock prices on the daily.

  7. There is a history of dev angst about Apple. The negative is usually louder than those who are quietly content. But the Negatives seem to be saying, in part, that if Apple is allowed to survive on its current course it will spell the end of creativity.

    These Negs will exist no matter what future history reveals. However, I’m quite sure that history will not include the death of creativity, no matter how well Apple fares on its current course. I am curtain the Negs will sound like ranting paranoids.

  8. Downloaded layars just to “see through walls” it breaks many interface rules and is a bit on the ugly side. Seems to work though. Needs a makeover like Netflicx got from MovieBuddy.

  9. I find the whole cross-platform thing interesting for a number of reasons.

    When it comes to apps, where the interface is everything, there’s no doubt that cross-platform development tends to produce results that are unsatisfactory to varying degrees. With games, however, the case is much less clear cut. Aside from the odd options/preference screen, I don’t think I’ve got a single game whose interface conforms to any Apple guidelines. It’s common (and accepted) that a game’s interface controls will be in the vernacular of the game’s visual style – for the time you are in the game, there is basically nothing to tell you which platform you are on.
    Why then should it matter to anyone, including Apple, what development tools were used to create the game in the first place?

    The other side of this comes down to what people view as the primary driver for sales of mobile devices. Device makers (like Apple) want people to choose a device first (Apple’s) and then run whatever apps are available on their platform. Many app developers (including Adobe, for obvious reasons) take the view that it’s the software that matters, and that the hardware should be irrelevant.

    I find myself torn on this issue because there are plenty of good Flash games out there, but Flash apps (where you need to use the interface to get things done) are far more likely to be problematic.
    Exhibit A : Adobe’s Creative Suite apps which, while not built in Flash apart from certain interface panels, are a good (bad?) example of why metaplatforms are a bad idea, and why Apple wants to stop that happening on the iPhone.

    • Apple doesn’t care what tools were used to create the app in the first place. Pac-Man for iPhone obviously was not written with Xcode, it’s 30 years old and came out of the Arcade. DOOM is 15 years old and comes from DOS. What matters is that the developer bring their C code into Xcode as a last step and compile a native iPhone package that performs up to specification.

      iPhone apps are already cross-platform because they are written in C, which is inherently cross-platform. Mac, Windows, Unix, PlayStation, and so on all use C. So 90% of your app can run everywhere. You just have to do the other 10% unique to each platform to do the job right.

      When somebody talks about Flash being necessary for cross-platform mobile development, that is incredibly lazy. That is someone saying they don’t want to do the 10% to make an iPhone app, they want Adobe to do it in some generic way and that’s good enough, never mind if the resulting app is a bloated memory hog that can’t multitask.

    • From section 3.3.1 of the developer agreement:
      “applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++”


      This is why the guys at Unity still don’t know for sure if they are OK. They do link through Xcode for the app build, but the IDE has strong C# support which is not included in Apple’s list of approved languages.

      I’m pretty sure Objective-C, C# and C++ are all sufficiently different to make transporting code between them a non-trivial operation.

      Also, Adobe’s Flash compiler doesn’t (didn’t?) make it “easier” to build an iPhone app per se (writing a good Flash game is still hard work) but it makes it easier if you already know Actionscript.

  10. This is why cross-platform developers suck.

    They DON’T CARE about the platform or the platform’s users.

    They just want to make a quick buck rather than develop quality software.

    Good riddance!

  11. NOTE In Raimo’s defense though, those tweets are typical blunt Dutch commentary; spontaneous and doesn’t imply anything beyond the skin.

    But your point has merit. If cross-platform developers put such low regards for the platforms they’re participating in, how can consumers take anything they make seriously?

    • Frankly, I was stunned to see the CEO of a company actively asking people to dump stock of a partner. No matter how lenient you may want to paint it, it’s a crass move.

    • My feeling is, it’s easy to make too much of remarks like this. The ‘net is loaded with self-important people who give out free investment advice that only the extremely credulous would take even remotely seriously. The fact that this person is also an Apple developer adds a touch of the bizarre to his comments, but then the ‘net is also a breeding ground for bizarre behaviors, so no surprise there either. If he’s not concerned about maintaining his credibility, then why should we?

  12. Think of them as:

    Similar to people bashing the hotel they’re staying at for not offering pr0n channels, when they already knew the brochure clearly says: “No pr0n available.”

    Put it another way:

    The value developers give to the store hosting their apps reflects the value they give to the apps themselves.

  13. If he hates Apple so much, why does he develop for the App Store? I’d love to know how much money he makes on Android Marketplace, vs. Apple. My guess is that he can’t sustain a living with Android only.

    He’s welcome to express his views all he wants, as far as I’m concerned. But I’m welcome to not buy his products, too.

    Suggesting that Apple won’t survive the year is ludicrous to anyone who is paying attention. Forget the politics; I’d be cautious about buying software developed by someone of such questionable intelligence.

  14. If you want to hear who a person wants to be, listen to them talk.
    If you want to know who a person is, watch what they do.
    If they don’t match, you’ve learned something new.

    It’s a GOOD thing for hypocrites and dummies to spout off in public.
    We get free information about their character.

    • I don’t know if this quote is true, but I like the sound of it. It’s also interesting to apply it to the website for Layar.

      What the site says:

      The website is chock-a-block of text but most of it is empty (and rather shameless), self-promotion. It talks not so much about the Layar app, but about augmented reality in general, as if it’s something commensurate with the second coming of Christ, and as if Layar is the only app or at least the primary app involved. It talks about Layar as a *platform* as opposed to a simple app.

      What the site does:

      The main page practically forces you to download the product, but fails to tell you anything about the product itself. The only link to a description of the product, is again a link to the download page and the description that you find there is merely that Layar is “an augmented reality app.” The intent I suppose is to imply that if you want augmented reality, you want Layar. They are apparently one and the same thing.

      The author of the software is a bigger presence on the site than the software is, featuring prominently in several videos that also feature flashy mock-ups of augmented reality situations, while simultaneously (again) not really describing anything about Layar itself.

      The website is almost certainly created by Maartens himself, but refers to himself in the third person like some kind of rock star, amid huge amounts of shameless name-dropping. He seems rather desperate to show himself with a suite of famous technologists and that they seem to like him and his app.

      I’ve never tried the app, and never went to his site until today but my first impression and personal take-away from this website would be:

      “Unpleasant little man who thinks rather a lot of himself and hardly at all about his customers.”

      This is conclusion is fairly easy even without knowing about the Tweets he made which are the basis for this article.

  15. I’m not surprised: It makes his job harder, so he’d love for Apple to sink for not making it easy for him to release half-baked cross-platform apps that get him rich quick.
    Okay, I’m being unfair. He probably makes very good programs, but I really can’t stand cross-platform apps. I do use some no my Mac, such as TweetDeck, but it’s usually because they’re free, and I always lament on how much better they could be if they were designed with OS X specifically in mind. I have NEVER used a native app and thought, “This would be so much better if written in Flash, AIR, Java, or Silverlight.”

    • Amen.

      I was noticing how beautiful the Pandora iPad app was the other day and wondered why the Pandora web app experience had to suck so badly… tiny text, cramped crowded and just plain weird interface. Then I downloaded the supposedly premium Pandora One Adobe Air app. Ugh. Why would I pay a premium price for this POS? Its hardly better than the web app experience.

      I’m sure it cost them a lot less than developing a separate app for windows mac and linux but its the jack of all trades master of none. There’s something seriously wrong when your free offerings kick the ass of your premium ones.

  16. We humans are great at creating cognitive dissonance. Unsurprisingly, it’s a lot easier to recognize this in others than it is in ourselves. Raimo evidently has a horn-honking case that even he should be able to recognize as base hypocrisy. Perhaps he knows but does not care. But the real bottom line is, who takes investment advice from twittergeeks?

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