Bob I’m an iOS instructor/blogger from S.Korea.July 14 • 5 min read • Edit

Love and hate relationship between Apple and iOS developers

The 1.9 million ecosystem, gate keepers, tech bully

Apple, You Sexy Bully

I have been using Apple products for 4 years since I received an iPhone 4 as a birthday gift from my dad. I fell in love with its seamless design and software quality unmatchable to any other toys at that time. Soon after, I found myself buying every nugget out there including an iPad and MacBook Pro.

Sounds familiar to you?

We all know that Apple spends tremendous effort perfecting user experience and design, including the interior — even though no human can physically replace the battery with fingers alone. On top of that, Apple products epitomize the sheer power and synergy when hardware and software harmonize. However, Apple always has been its own league and own way.

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” — Steve Jobs

In late 2016, Apple removed the good old rectangular USB ports, the circular headphone jack, and the entire row of the Apple keyboard. I am not here to complain — Indeed, I like innovations, and there will be always oppositions no matter what — but to emphasize Apple is a bad ass or a bully in the tech industry. It rips apart the past and constructs the future with innovations. Not to mention industries including, PC, music, tablet, publishing, education, the wearable, TV, and smartphones.

Apple is like the dude in the club getting all the attention from chicks without even trying. He’s got fancy clothes and drives a nice car. He can do pretty whatever he wants. At the end of the night, he still gets laid.

Apple’s Slaves

Apple tries to control everything ranging from submitting an app to the App Store and public excitement through “leaked” photos and rumors. Here are my top four reasons why we are under control.

  1. Apple has gatekeepers. When you submit an app, you need to wait for 3–4 days to get approved and meanwhile, you pray that your app doesn’t get rejected by valid reasons according to Apple.
  2. Apple forces developers to pay $99 per year to put your app on the App Store. Oh, not to mention my beta testing app got rejected — Who the fuck rejects an app that is being tested. 🙃
  3. Apple never licenses its OS. Unlike Windows, Mac OS only runs on hardware manufactured by Apple. In other words, you have to buy Mac something. That’s not all, you have to register your device and profile to run your apps on your phone.
  4. You can only build apps using Xcode which is only available on Mac OS. Apple controls us, oh wait — the industry, the world.

Apple tells us what to do and what to fix. We have no choice but to follow Apple’s way. You have no other alternative especially once you fall in love with its product and get trapped into the ecosystem. Once you go Apple, you never go Banana. No other platforms will satisfy you — the design and the feeling, it’s just not there.

Apple’s closeness is a double edged sword. We, developers, have no idea what new features will be introduced in iOS. The whole situation reminds me a seven-year old kid excitedly waiting for his Christmas gift but it just happens to be in September. I am aware Swift has been open sourced recently, but the majority of its infrastructure and frameworks are hidden under the hood.

In middle school, Apple is the cool kid, whom everyone wants to hang out with. At fist, he challenges you and tests what you are made up of. He might even reject you. Still, you desperately want his approval. You like his group and by fitting in, it makes you look cool as well.

We Love You, Apple

But, we can’t neglect what Apple has done for us, the unboxing experience, updating to a newer version of iOS, looking through an eye-popping rendered images of iPhone 9, and the WWDC. There are certain things we undeniably love about Apple.

That’s why we’ve decided to devote our finite time on Earth producing software for Apple — also, $99 per year.

Recently, I posted an article “5 Reasons Why I Fell in Love with Swift”. Surprisingly, even though it was my first article at Medium it has been shared 30 times on social media, indicating some developers do agree that Swift is pretty sweet.

The Ecosystem

We can’t also neglect the ecosystem. Apple reported that the iOS economy has created 1.2 million jobs in Europe and 1.4 million jobs in China including 1.9 million jobs in the US alone.

Despite numerous articles written about the work environment for factory workers in China, Apple has given us ways to put food on the table for oneself and one’s family. Whether they be iOS developers, marketers, factory workers, Apple has given us the ability to build our career, to make financial choices, and to provide education for our special ones. Some are apprising entrepreneurs pursuing their dreams to create the next big thing.

Apple has provided the fertile ecosystem where we can safely plant our own seeds. The land is so good that you don’t want to leave even if you pay the maintenance fee, even if you are only allowed to grow certain species, and even if Apple might decide to pluck all your crops and throw them in the garbage.

You can still make much out of the promised land if you make a choice to thrive and prosper.

We Depend on You, Apple

When Steve Job passed away on October 5th, 2011, many believed Apple would no longer be Apple. Since then, people have been mocking Apple for lack of disruptions and innovations. But, let’s take a look at the fact. Let the haters hate.

The graph below shows the number iPhone units has been sold since 2007. This is what surprises me. Apple sold more iPhones in a single quarter in the fourth quarter of 2015 (74.78 million) than that of the entire year in 2011 (69.22 million)

The number of iPhone Sold since 2007

On top of that, In 2011, Apple ranked #35 in the Fortune 500, but in 2016, it stands next to the best of the best at #3. Last year, Apple gained the highest revenue in the tech industry with $233 billion in sales and $53 billion in profit, compared to Samsung’s $177 billion in revenue, $16.5 billion in profit. That’s a big deal — I am a native Korean and spent my entire childhood watching Samsung commercials.

In other words, if Apple fails — which unlikely to happen anytime soon — the ecosystem breaks down. Although developers can use our fundamental knowledge and move to other platforms, certain workers, whose entire supply chain depends on Apple’s production, would have a huge impact.

Recent Market Share

Despite all the hype, Apple’s share of the smartphone and tablet market declined since 2011. If you make a linear best-fit line, you see a gentle negative slope. Android(blue), on the other end, has been growing at a log curve. And it is still moving up.

Smartphone Global Market Share since 2009

Not only that, native iOS developers had been shocked by new frameworks such as React Native and PhoneGap which allow web developers to create hybrid apps.

Should we be worried? Should we try to learn new trends just in case? I am not so sure. Yet, my guts tell me to love and embrace the current ecosystem. My brain tells me to play safe, but my heart tells me to stick with it and suck all its nutrients from there. Once the land starts to become barren, then migrate very quickly. By the time, I would have built substantial skills such as design patterns, architecture, protocol oriented programming, and so on. Just apply somewhere else!

Last Remarks

I know you’ve heard million times that there is no black and white in the current world. Indeed, there will be pros and cons for any decisions we pursue. I do love Apple and what it does for the world, but also I am aware of its cons and where they are coming from.

At the end of the day, Apple has given me the path to financially support myself and be able to write and share with the beloved community. I am really thankful. I wish I could grow and learn as a developer along with Apple’s talented engineers and the brilliants.

I love you and hate you, Apple.

About Me

iOS Developer from South Korea. Feel free to follow my story on Instagram or get serious on LinkedIn