Neighbors Jon and Liz aren’t the only Bernalese who have been making a splash on Ellsworth Street. Neighbor Greg Gardner is a software developer who also lives on Ellsworth, just a block north of Jon and Liz. He writes to tell us about his recent high-profile tangle with Apple:
In addition to my two neighbors here on Ellsworth St who were published in the New York Times Magazine, I also had an interesting weekend, although not as positive as theirs.
Last year I quit my job as a software developer to work for myself making iPhone and iPad apps. My first app went out earlier this year and didn’t do so well. So I started working on my second app, called Launcher, and released it a week and half ago, on the day that iOS 8 came out.
This second app was doing really well and I was planning on sending you a little note to let you know that one of your Bernal neighbors had built something that was being enjoyed by people all over the world.
Then Apple decided on Friday to take my app off of the App Store with little explanation. I think they did it on Friday evening in order to try to avoid it getting press coverage, but luckily it is getting picked up. Here’s what TechCrunch says about it:
Launcher’s creator, Greg Gardner, tells us that his new app had ranked highly on the list of the top 20 highest grossing productivity apps in the U.S. shortly after its App Store debut, and it made it into the top 10 highest grossing productivity apps in 43 different countries.
Nearly 300,000 users over the course of nine days downloaded Launcher, he says – good numbers for a brand-new app of any kind which hasn’t yet begun to do serious marketing or paid user acquisition.
Gardner explains in more detail via a post on his website, that Apple said that launcher apps like his were a “misuse of widgets,” and made the decision to pull the app down even though there are no written rules that state launcher apps cannot exist. He also says he attempted submitting a fix which would redirect users who tap on the Launcher widget first to the Launcher app itself, then to the target app. Apple rejected the fix within an hour on Friday, and then pulled Launcher from the App Store.
9 to 5 Mac covered the situation, and Business Insider headlined their article A Developer Created A Brilliantly Innovative New Way To Use The iPhone’s Widgets, But Apple Killed It.
So now, instead of quietly making a living for myself and my family building apps, I find myself thrust into a struggle against the company with the largest market capitalization in the world — all from my little house on Ellsworth. Obviously, my struggle pales in comparison to the ones many of our neighbors have had to fight to keep their houses and whatnot — but still, it’s an issue that affects my future livelihood.
Yuck. This isn’t the first time Apple has made life unpleasant for a Bernal resident, and it should come as a surprise to no one that Apple can be, uh, rather controlling. Still, it sucks when Apple acts arbitrarily and autocratically, and it sucks even more when that behavior impacts the livelihood of a Bernal neighbor.
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