Last Thursday, Apple’s developer site (ADC) abruptly went into maintenance mode. It’s not uncommon for the site to be put into maintenance while Apple pushes new tools and evaluation software out to developers. The maintenance window became uncommon when it lingered into Friday. As early as Friday afternoon, the tone from developers was turning from curiosity to speculation, with hints of anger and demands for updates from Apple.
What’s interesting to note at this juncture is that one of the most common topics amongst iOS and Mac developers lately is that of App Store economics and user entitlement. Experienced developers have all encountered users who believe the exchange of mere pennies initiates a contract where developers are beholden for lifetime updates and improvements.
Astonishingly, many of Saturday and Sunday’s posts about the outage on ADN and Twitter were from developers who seemed to believe Apple owed them an explanation. Developers who will casually complain about entitled users began hypocritically demanding answers from Apple about why the portal was down. Finally, Apple sent an email to members of their development programs Sunday afternoon, explaining the site had been taken down Thursday after attempts to gain access to developer data were detected. Here’s the first paragraph, as available Sunday evening:
Last Thursday, an intruder attempted to secure personal information of our registered developers from our developer website. Sensitive personal information was encrypted and cannot be accessed, however, we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses, and/or email addresses may have been accessed. In the spirit of transparency, we want to inform you of the issue. We took the site down immediately on Thursday and have been working around the clock since then.
Somehow this explanation wasn’t enough for some. The company whose shoulders thousands of individuals and businesses have built their own fortunes on is inexplicably required to provide details and disclosure of system attacks while mediation and triage are under way.
It has become obvious which of the talking heads have been in a war room situation where a large system is under attack and those who have really only deployed PHP to servers in their basement. The $99 that developers pay doesn’t entitle anybody to realtime feedback on the health and status of any of Apple’s systems. Compared to the cost of operating those systems, developing the devices and software that make them important, and after-hours time that was put in this weekend, that measly hundred bucks is pretty insignificant. Distribute it across the full year, and $0.27 a day is significantly less than the anecdotal cup of coffee many developers compare their software to when arguing about the price of building apps.