Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An Open Letter to Apple

Every time Apple releases a new version of Mac OS X, Developers get shafted a little bit. We develop the apps that complement and enhance Mac OS X and make it great and what do we get for this? Releases of Mac OS X about a month after everybody else. It’s no secret that with paid ADC accounts we get a free copy of Mac OS X as it’s stated clearly on the ADC Site ( ), which is why anybody who knows they are getting a free copy wouldn’t buy one. Well I am not here to endlessly bitch about it, I am here to provide an easy to implement solution... certificates. I propose instead of letting developers sit by waiting for Leopard to come a month late and let everybody else get a copy of Mac OS X Leopard when it comes out right away, let developers sign up on the ADC site for certificates for a specific Apple store if you want it. Instead of mass mailing out these certificates to every developer (wether they will be at a Apple store or not, thus potentially leading to some abuse of the system) open a form on the ADC site that checks our credentials (knowing if we have an account with a free copy of Mac OS X (Select, Premier or Student ) or not), and then lets say the form can contain the Apple Store we plan to go to and then give us a printable (or mailed to us) certificate that when we go to the Apple store on Leopards launch date we can redeem for a copy of Leopard. I am guessing that due to the close time frame of Leopard in October it’s probably too late to create this so that certificates are mailed to us. So I suggest this

  1. Create a Section on the ADC site that lets developers sign up for a printable certificate (optionally with a serial code pattern unique to the particular apple store) to be redeemed at a specific Apple Store for Mac OS X Leopard
  2. This form validates our ADC account and when it’s all submitted sends this information to the specific Apple store. 
  3. When Mac OS X Leopard launches developers print this certificate out and go to the Apple store
  4. When at the apple store the employees scan a barcode on the certificate or enter in some unique serial number/code and in combination with a simple thing like our drivers license for ID, validates us and takes the full price off of leopard and thus developers get a copy of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard! :D
Thus Developers are happy! We get Mac OS X Leopard at the same time as everybody else, like it should be, and don’t have to wait a month to get it in the mail. Everybody wins! I realize that perhaps I haven’t thought every detail of this out, but it seems entirely plausible to me to have some system in place so developers who are genuinely entitled to a free copy of Mac OS X because of their paid ADC account can go to the Apple Store and pick up a copy the same day as everybody else. Heck I’d pay a small fee for the convenience of picking it up the same day as everybody else. Like I said this is just a suggestion, but I think as a developer instead of endlessly complaining about it we should put forward solutions to this problem and appropriately communicate them to Apple. The main reason I post this here is because I think there needs to be some open debate about this long before Apple publishes Leopard and we hear the moans of developers waiting for their copy of Mac OS X to arrive, the only alternative to this that I can see at the moment is for Apple to mail our copies of Mac OS X to us early (but then they could not really ensure AFAIK that the mail system only delivers them to us on the appropriate date all at once.) What does everybody else think about this?


Anonymous said...

I had an ADC Select membership a few years ago when Tiger was being developed. Yes, my packaged Tiger CD came a while after it was officially released, but I seem to recall that the GM version was sent on CD before the release, so I was using the "real" Tiger before it could be bought.

But this is just my memory, which may be faulty.

Anonymous said...

As a non-American, the only flaw I can see is that not all countries have Apple Stores. Also, it puts you in the queues with the people wanting the new OS (which with Tiger, were considerable). Personally I could use your proposed system in the UK (as we have Apple Stores) but most of my European brethren (for instance) do not.

Personally I don't think it needs to be as complicated as you're suggesting (where I define 'complicated' as needing to get off your butt to complete the task). Just let us download the dmg, like we do with the betas... then it only costs us a blank DVD (which is probably less than the average cost to the nearest Apple Store). For those of us who want the 'real' disc, we can then wait the month for the pretty one to turn up, having used our home-grown one in the meantime. Also, with your method, your developer freebie copies would be eating into potential sales copies in the stores (so the stores theoretically wouldn't be able to sell as many).

Finally, your solution could also work for Apple's online stores. This would have the advantages of:
[1] No queues / tents needed
[2] Only slight delay (for postage), although this could be offset by allowing a pre-order feature
[3] Not eating into 'real sales' copies, meaning stores won't be running out just because of us developers
[4] Not as geographically tied (albeit you'd still need a national online Apple Store, which not everyone has).

The real solution, of course, is for ADC / WWDR to post them out quickly. Why is it that the Apple Store can send you one faster than ADC / WWDR?

Good luck trying to change the minds of WWDR... every time I've tried to talk sense to them (such as why they won't tell NDA-d WWDC E-ticket owners if the sessions will be available post-conference, each year surprising us with their merciful offerings), they've been the most pig-headed bunch of idiots I've ever encountered, who protect themselves with an inept frontline troop of cannon fodder. They should take a leaf out of Sun's Developer Connection if they want to improve their 'Relations' name...

Anonymous said...

I don't understand.. if you have a paid ADC account you can download prereleases. As far back as I can remember the eventual golden master was always released to developers before it was available to the public - only Apple never states 'this is the final release'. You usually had to wait to find out what the biuld number was and then look and see that it is the same as the last seed.

Colin Wheeler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Wheeler said...

"I don't understand.. if you have a paid ADC account you can download prereleases. As far back as I can remember the eventual golden master was always released to developers before it was available to the public - only Apple never states 'this is the final release'. You usually had to wait to find out what the biuld number was and then look and see that it is the same as the last seed."

Some of us don't have access to the pre-releases and only have the WWDC builds and still have paid accounts. In any case it's about treating developers like everybody else and letting them have their copy at the same time as everybody else. Theres just no reason developers shouldn't get their copy at the same time as everybody else.

Anonymous said...

You are aware of that crazy new fangled thing called "BitTorrent" right?

Anonymous said...

How are you in the category of users who have paid accounts but no access to downloadable seeds? I'm a Select member, the cheapest paid ADC level, and I have download access to Leopard builds as they're posted.

You're either wrong about your own membership (you're not paying, or you really do have access to builds), or some special case applies specifically to you, in which case it's not interesting to solve your problem as a general one.

Colin Wheeler said...

2 Words

Student Membership

besides there are plenty of people who don't want to install the seeds as they are posted and just want the final GM on a disc

Unknown said...

As another ADC Student Developer, I agree completely. Since I know Apple won't do anything as logical as a coupon for us, my plan is to buy a copy when it is released via the Apple Online Store w/ my student discount (last time, this was $79. This should put it in my hands on Saturday (if the release is on Friday evening, like it has been historically). Not sure if the discount will be as good this time since Apple has reduced the student discounts on iWork and other products). Then, when my ADC copy finally comes through about a month later, it will go up on eBay.

Mark Hughes said...

Having an ADC free account or Student isn't really being an ADC "developer"; you're testing the waters, but not really diving in, and yes, you miss out on a lot of developer content. You have to pay for that content... ADC Students who attended WWDC07 got a pre-release, but won't have the more current version.

I have ADC Select. Between the discount on WWDC07 and the new MBP I bought with the hardware discount, the $500 membership has saved me over $800, *and* I won't have to pay for Leopard next month.

If you're serious about being a Mac developer, you need at least a Select membership. There's no substitute.

The seeds aren't necessarily totally stable, but they're quite usable for real daily work, and you get them before everyone else, and for "free".

SeyfOyuN said...

I think your solution would work.

I am living in Turkey. Leopard arrived to stores here 3 weeks after the release. Even if Apple sent me a free copy, it would got stuck at the customs. No software passes from customs in Turkey. With your idea, i could just go get my copy from my local apple store. It would be 3 weeks late, but it would be painless...

A certificate would be just fine.