I’m not one to criticize Apple very often, but recently a couple of actions on their part have really made me wonder if they are really interested in courting developers…
First off, Netflix released their On-Demand movie viewer for the Mac. What the heck does this have to do with Developers and the Mac OS? Well, check the article out… Netflix used Microsoft’s Silverlight plug-in to write it. WTF!?! Why is Netflix using Silverlight? One, the tools to develop Silverlight code are very accessible to developers. Visual Studio Express is free, as is the environment for writing Silverlight code. Two, Silverlight code is also cross platform, it runs under both the Mac and Windows. No need to develop two versions of code for the two different platforms. Three, Silverlight supports DRM encoding. This makes it easier for Netflix to not have to worry about people stealing the video. What I don’t understand is that Apple has Quicktime / iTunes which support *the exact same features*.
So, why did Netflix pick Silverlight? I think that there are many reasons, but here’s the one that sticks in my mind. Apple is starting to abuse it’s development community. Yes, the full XCode is free. The tools are great… BUT… try moving beyond the ‘hobbyist’ developer.
Look at the iPhone development. $100 just to run code on your iPhone. More to develop for a company. Limited help, and the forums are ONLY for developers who’ve been admitted to the Development program. Limited betas. One doesn’t know if their app will be approved until they finish it and submit it.
Then, on the OS X side, Apple started charging for the WWDC videos. Granted, these are probably VERY in-depth and well worth the money for an OS X developer, but Microsoft gives these kinds of videos away for free. BTW, they are charging for those videos even if one is paying membership into the Apple Developer’s Connection program. Previously, those had been included with the price of admission for ADC members.
What totally kills me is that the OS X platform with XCode, Cocoa, and Unix are an INCREDIBLE combination. I think that the Application Development on the Mac platform is far simpler than in the Windows world. But, I think Apple is going overboard with some of the policies. Chasing developers away is NOT what they need. The more ‘killer apps’ that show up on the Mac platform, the more machines will be sold, and the more Apple will ultimately make. At least, I HOPE so!