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The New Developer Program
Thank you sir, can I have another...

By:David K. Every
©Copyright 1999

What is happening?

Apple just changed their developers program -- again. And there is no doubt that they took stuff away from developers. Developers are incessant whiners, but of course that doesn't mean that their whines are always unjustified. So I'm going to play good cop and bad cop, and let both sides of me vent. I am not happy, but the rational side admits there is SOME validity to what they are doing. So schizophrenic Dave will debate with himself:

Apple's behaving like adults

Those bastards are screwing me again

Apple works hard and deserves money for the services they offer. As annoying as they sometimes are to developers, their fees were less than "the other side", and their services are better.

This transition is just Apple maturing, and charging what is fair for services rendered.

Apple cycles between being fabulous to their developers, to treating them like the IRS treats everyone. Apple can transition pretty quickly, and it seems we just went from a peak to a valley.

Help us Hiedi Rosen, why'd you leave us to the jackals and the jackasses?!

Apple's new Developer Program that could be summed up as:

Behaving like the big boys.

No more free rides for developers. You want to play, you've got to pay -- and the fee's didn't go up much.

Apple's new Developer Program that could be summed up as one of their old ad campaigns:

It does less, it costs more, it's that simple!

OK. Maybe that isn't exactly Apple's old ad campaign -- but it could be their new one. Ouch it hurts!

On the balance, Apple is being no worse than Microsoft. In fact, it seems they went out of their way to model their program after Microsoft's, but they try to be a little better.

Microsoft is worshipped in the business world, and they can make a buck off of anything. It is about time that Apple got over their small company, NIH origins, -- and they start making money EVERYWHERE they can (or at least losing less). Development support costs a lot, and Apple needs to show sustained profitability in order to help the platform, and get more "security" -- to stem the tide of idiots predicting Apple's immediate demise. This is another good step in that direction.

So much for thinking different. They are now thinking the same. So what if they are a little better than Microsoft -- the most hated company in the computing world, known for gouging its customers. I don't like Microsoft (and how they treat developers), and I don't care if apple is being 5% nicer. That just means that they are giving me a little foreplay, before they give me what comes next. Oh, boy, don't I feel privileged. Apple needs to be more than a little better -- they need to be a LOT better.

Developers are a bunch of whiny, cheap pansies. If Apple loses a few premadona's that is no big loss. What are they going to do? Go over to Windows where they are treated worse? This is the usual flatulence, and they really only want to get Apple's family jewels handed to them for free. This is proven by their overreaction to such a small change.

Apple needs all the developers they can get! Especially now. Apple should be out there treating developers like they are Gods, in order to keep and encourage MORE development. They need to be pleasing those that have been loyal to them through all this turmoil, and for making Apple what it is. Without Developers there is no Apple!

Apple will have more money coming in, and now they can afford to help the remaining developers more. Also, Apple has been giving away more tools (like MPW, and so on) to developers. They deserve to charge more. They have even added more support, like having some free services under the new program, and so on.

Instead Apple seems determined to treat Development Support like it can be a profit center. Every time they do this (and they do it every few years), they lose developers. Maybe it can be a profit center if you are Microsoft and you are a monopoly -- Apple isn't. They should be out there encouraging as much development as possible, not discouraging it.

The New Program

Under the old program, every developer (and their friends) were becoming developers just so that they could get hardware discounts (that weren't that good anyway). The administration costs and overhead was hurting them. Add in all the complexities of these pseudo-developers, and the waste in shipping lots of documentation and CD's to people who threw it away or didn't care (they were only in it for the hardware), and this was a reasonable move.

The new program eliminates hardware, which should help with the focus on developers (not moochers). The added revenue can improve services, and Apple is expanded the list servers, giving discounts on tools, and may be giving more software in the future (like Rhapsody seeds which includes a whole development environment).

Under the old program, I was paying $250 a year (an Associate), and I was getting my developer CD's, my software seeds, occasional hardware discounts (that I could usually beat through mail-order places), and little support. I could access their Web Site, and be involved in some email lists.

With the new program, I can pay $500 to get the same thing, except I don't get the hardware discounts (which Apple had been making less useful for me each year). Am I supposed to be impressed? They throw me some carrots, like $100 gift certificate for Metrowerks products, and now I can get two (less than valuable) tech support questions answered per year. But it all comes down to twice as much, and I lose my hardware discounts. Gee, thanks!

So some people will blow wind, and say they are going to leave. The ones that do weren't that serious of developers, or they will get support through companies, schools and other institutions -- which will help Apple focus more on the core developers. Apple can't be all things to all people -- they have to cut the cord and build organizations to support themselves and each other.

So what will I do? I will let my subscription run out, and walk away. I won't stop developing for Macs, but I can't afford to keep my own registration up to date. I'll just have to use the developer programs from the companies I work for, instead of also maintaining my own. Doesn't hurt me much -- but it hurts Apple. Not just because of me, but because they loose small developers like me.

Small timers can still get the Developer discs for $99. The only thing they lost was access to NDA'd stuff and pre-releases. Apple had security problems with this anyway, so tightening that up isn't going to hurt the company. There is still plenty of value in the developer program. The OS releases alone (that come on the discs) would add up to a couple hundred dollars in value (if not more).

I had a tough enough time encouraging people try to become developers with the costs what they were -- even though it was a good value, and you got monthly CD's and so on. But now it is going to be much harder sell. Great move Apple. The $250 was too much for many people to get started -- the $500 is way out of the range of students and home-hackers. Say good-bye to small developers.

Apple needs to focus its services on those that are making products that help the platform. Small BUSINESSES and garage software companies can afford the $500 a year. Especially compared to the other costs ($ thousands for the computers, $ thousands a month in developer costs and so on). So it doesn't hurt businesses -- only the kids, and those not serious about making products. So those that are whining should keep perspective. They can spend hundreds of thousands in time, but can't afford $500/year? Yeah, right. Besides, they don't NEED to pay that to create a product. The beta-software only help if they are working on cutting edge stuff, and if they get in touch with our evangelism, or special teams, they can get that stuff anyway.

And if you don't think this is a big deal (only screwing your small developers), remember that almost every great revolutionary product that has come out for the Mac, came from the small developers (who may now be big). Adobe was small. BareBones is small. Metrowerks started small. Central Point, Aldus, Macromedia, Silicon Beach, Fifth Generation, MacPlay (interplay) and so on and so forth, not to mention fabulous shareware developers -- they all started as SMALL developers, and made the Mac what it is. Most of the best developers (as far as supporting Mac) are still the small developers. The big boys are big bureaucracies, and they don't support the Mac as well as the little developers do. So this move is especially hurtful.

Costs are irrelevant to what businesses can charge -- they have to charge for what is the value. Apple's material is certainly worth a lot more than they've been getting. And this all goes to pay for an area of the business that loses money. The more that comes in, the better Apple can afford to offer more services.

The annoying part is knowing what it costs. For $.50 a disc (each month), which is the only real value I've gotten out of Apple, I get to pay $40 each month. What a deal -- for them. Everything else I get is a fixed cost for them (they have to do it anyway, and giving me access doesn't cost them a dime).


There are many that trust Apple. Apple is a business, and is looking out for their best interests -- but not blindly so. They don't want to chase off developers, they want to support their developers -- but they have to balance business with support. Apple has been giving developers more (tools, services, etc.) and now they add costs to balance that.

It is hard being a Mac Developer. Mostly because of boneheaded mba-types in management and marketing, and the witless apple-bashing press. But developers aren't helping when they overreact to small changes, and whine about everything. Developers should put down their megaphones (get off their soap boxes), stop sending Apple hate mail, stop bitching in every newsgroup and email list, get off their asses and create products!

There are many that just don't trust Apple. Developers think they know it all ('cause they do). When they don't like a decision, or ten in a row, they start getting pissy. Apple has given them a lot to question and get pissy about! This is just another in a long trend of easily questionable moves, Apple's boneheaded moves hurt them, why shouldn't they complain?

It is hard being a Mac Developer. 33% of that is because of misinformation (mostly the press). 33% of that is because of mind-numbed mba-followers, who can't do math, and who listen to the herd and fail think for themselves (whether they are VC, accounting, or management). But the last 33% is because when I turn my back for a second, Apple is trying to stick a knife in it. Thanks a lot guys. Stop nickel and diming me, and stop changing things every other year!

I've been an Apple developer, since I could barely scrape enough together to afford it -- my AppleLink ID was was 0400 (or their 400th developer), so lets just say I've been around a while.

For outsides who may have seen the car-wreck on the list-groups, this bitch-fest is nothing new. Every time Apple changes anything they get this reaction. After a while people calm down and figure out that they were over reacting, or at least they resign themselves to their new reality.

Created: 04/10/98
Updated: 11/09/02

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