Apple’s assault on Java is an Assault Java Developers

Yesterday, Apple announced that its next version of OS X, called “Lion”, will include an App store to simplify the process of downloading, purchasing, and updating applications on the Mac.

This is great news!

Apple will take a 30% cut of all transactions performed through the app store.

I’m mixed about this. If the App store is able to increase the sales of my apps by more than 30%, then it might be worth it. Otherwise, this is just a 30% tax off the top of all of my app income.

In a much less hyped announcement, Apple has deprecated Java as of version 1.6 update 3, and may not continue to bundle Java with future releases of OS X.

This is bad news… and it could be terrible news if Oracle or someone else doesn’t pick up the slack and provide a Mac deployment for the Java VM. Although, this could be somewhat good news if the “new” steward takes better care, as Java on the Mac does lag behind other platforms in both performance and stability. Oracle taking over Java could be a good thing if it results in a better product.

One final non-announcement came in the form of a guideline for admission to the Mac App store: Applications that use deprecated API’s (e.g. Java) will be rejected from the App store.

This is terrible news! A betrayal of the first order. It appears that Apple now feels confident enough with its market position to close the doors on all but their faithful Objective-C developers.

I currently have 3 desktop Mac applications on the market, and 2 of them are written almost entirely in Java. I chose, and still prefer, Java as a language because it provides a fast, robust, multi-threaded environment that is easy to scale, and even easier to port over to different platforms. It took me about 4 hours to port PDF OCR X over to Windows, and most of that time was spent on the non-java portions.

I was actually intending to blog about my experience with Java and multi-platform application development and was going to advocate Java as a good platform for development on the Desktop.

In light of yesterday’s announcements, I must take a pause to consider my future. Since Apple seems to be dictating its terms in a heavy-handed way, my instinct is to stick it to “the man” (Apple) and boycott its App store and its products altogether.

But then I lean back and glance around the room at my iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Mac Mini, and 2 Mac books…. and I question my resolve as they do indeed make nice products.

I watched from afar when Apple shut out Flash from its iPhone. But this didn’t affect me as I didn’t develop for the iPhone. And, after all, Flash runs down the battery life too fast so there was a logical technical reason for its omission. When they brazenly placed a prohibition on all advertisements served by competitors to their iAd service, I shook my head – but it didn’t really affect me. And since the iPhone was a new device, the fact that it was closed wasn’t too much of a concern, because we only had non-existence to compare to its “closed existence”, and a closed existence surely is better than non-existence

But with the Mac we are moving from an era of openness, and stepping into one that would appear to be much more closed, so I get the distinct and unpleasant feeling of having my virtual civil rights stripped away. For now, we will probably be able to download and install applications the conventional way, but such applications will likely be treated as 2nd class citizens, branded with a star, and forced to live in some hard-to-find ghetto folder. Once Apple has achieved wide-spread acceptance amongst users that the App store is the only acceptable way to obtain software, perhaps they’ll close the technical loop hole that allows those second class apps from even breathing the same air as Apple’s preferred class of fully-taxed App store apps, and we’ll be left with a completely closed, yet beautiful utopia of an operating system housing only the master race of applications that descend from Apple’s own genetic components (i.e. Objective-C) and bear the 30%-tax stamp of Approval.

Mister Jobs, you have stepped too far. I was a true believer. I am now agnostic.

comments powered by Disqus