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I Hate Linux

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Idea: Reducing the “Apple Tax” for developers

There are two primary reasons I do not own an iPhone today, both relate to my not being a typical user:

  1. AT&T Wireless is unwilling/unable to port my current South Dakota number over to their network (and I’m not about to give up my existing number).
  2. The ‘Apple Tax’ involved in getting to develop for it.

... well that and my not being hip and trendy.

Even if my number were portable... or I was willing to get a 425 area code number I’d still run into a bit of an issue as with any kind of smartphone, I’d wanna write a custom app or two for the thing and to do so I’d need a Mac to run the free SDK... the cheapest new one that can be had today runs ~$599 (Mac Mini), while the cheapest new PC I could find (without much looking) comes in closer to ~$299 (Dell Inspiron 530S).

Given the costs involved, it sure looks like one is a lot easier to pick up and start developing on/for than the other.

I’m forced to wonder... what would happen if Apple were to make their SDK (and related emulator) available for Windows PCs in some form. Given the current size of the Macintosh market share (~14%), it would seem to make a lot of sense to expand their developer market share to the predominant (development) platform.

Would such a move increase their their third-party developer ecosystem? Or would it reduce the number of Macs being sold?

Porting the system too much to to consider? Why not use another layer of emulation?

This could be done through a downloadable virtual machine which contained a stripped down version of Mac OS X, the entire SDK, iPhone emulator and whatever other tooling is needed to build an iPhone app.

Ready to deploy? If they were to use VMWare Player for their virtual machine software, VMWare’s USB support would make that a breeze.

Interesting idea I think... but still moot for me as I’m largely stuck with Verizon (or Sprint or Altel (for now)) and horribly disappointed with the Samsung Omnia I waited 2 weeks for arrive and that I returned less than 3 hours after getting out of the box (it would have been sooner but I had a couple of errands to run first).


  • What was wrong with the Samsung Omnia?

    By Blogger Mike, at 2:12 PM  

  • Wrong may not be the right word... but my beefs include

    * Launching the Verizon Navigation app starts with a 10 step or so long list of instructions on how to enable things
    * The need to 'unlock' (via a physical button press) the phone during a call to press a button on the keypad
    * The fact it includes a stylus
    * The need to use said stylus when calibrating the screen
    * Less than responsive touch screen

    By Blogger Brendan, at 4:03 PM  

  • Ahhhh, so nothing wrong really - that has been the standard for my pocket pc for years now. Te he he - sorry. I too am dissappointed that there is not an easier way for a "windows" developer to get in on the ipohone development - ther eis some serious cash to be made on little stupid applications! - LOL I could be rich! - but alas, not to be seeing the path I chose did not include one paved with fruit, er Apples...

    Your idea of a VM with a stipped down Mac OS on it is one that I have been looking for online - something with the SDK already loaded would be perfect. I know that there are Apple people watching your every move (seeing you are on the WHS team and all that...) so maybe they will take this morsel of intellegence back to their leaders as an idea....

    Just a thought....

    Thanks - I enjoy your Blog and sorry about your spoiled venison, that story brought a tear to my eye, so tasty and now wasty, er wasted.

    By Blogger Mike, at 6:48 PM  

  • Hello, I'm a Windows developer and this is exactly what I've been telling my apple loving friends for some time. One of the things that also came across my mind was that even though the iPhone OS seems more stable and pretty, it is awfully constrained. I can make a Windows mobile phone do anything, but from what I understand you can't even reach the bluetooth stack on the iPhone.

    I finally broke down and bought the iPhone after my moto Q gave me problems.

    My solution to the apple tax:

    I bought a $500 Dell inspiron laptop (with a $100 gift certificate from my local .NET user group, whooho!) and plan to install OSX86 as a secondary OS. I needed a laptop for work anyway. I choose that model because of it's compatability with OSX86, and because at the end of the day it was designed for Vista.

    Wish me luck installing OSX86, I think I'm going to need it.


    By Blogger Duke, at 10:12 AM  

  • Duke - please tell us how it goes - if successful I might try the same!

    By Blogger Mike, at 7:23 AM  

  • That is certainly another option Duke, also just installing OSX into a virtual machine on a host PC... however I believe the OSX EULA forbid both things and I was looking for a way to do it on the up and up.

    By Blogger Brendan, at 8:56 AM  

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