Steve Jobs E-mail: No Apple Authorization-Required App Store for Mac

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There will be no App Store for Mac OS X software — or at least no App Store that exerts total Apple control over the software that can run on your Mac — according to an e-mail from Steve Jobs to an Apple developer.

Fernando Valente of Chiaro Software wrote Mr. Jobs to ask about recent speculation that changes in a future version of Mac OS X would allow only Apple-authorized and signed apps to run on your Mac, similar to the way iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad work today.

“There’s a rumor saying there will be a Mac App Store and no software without authorization from Apple will run on Mac OS X,” Mr. Valente asked, according to a copy of the e-mail published by MacStories. “Is that true?”

Steve Jobs’s one word answer? “Nope.”

The question may be one of logistics, even for a company with Apple’s resources, rather than desire, especially for a company with Apple’s penchant for controlling the user experience. Desktop software is exponentially more complex than the apps that run on iPhone OS, and the question of being effectively responsible for the reliability of that software is something few companies would willingly take on.

Were Apple to place itself as the gatekeeper to Mac OS X software, the company would face a firestorm of criticism and negative PR the first nanosecond that a security patch, or updates crucial to business or creative software were delayed. These simply aren’t factors in the much more narrowly defined world of iPhone OS devices.

In addition, Apple would either have to embrace gambling, piracy, pornography, and all other manner of sinful activities currently verboten on iPhone OS or face losing much of its user base. “It’s one thing to forego boobies on your smartphone,” said a Mac user who wished to remain anonymous, “but it’s a whole other issue when it comes to your computer.”

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Stuffing the genie back into the bottle now would be like putting the lava back into Iceland’s volcano. Even for a company as notorious about control, an impossible feat this would be if attempted.

John Martellaro

Tiger: Yoda couldn’t have said it better! grin grin

Bryan Chaffin impossible feat this would be if attempted.

Tiger: Yoda couldn?t have said it better!

Truth you speak!




Gentlemen:  I don’t think that Apple ever intended to control the apps on its computers, as it does its mobile devices.  The reasons for this are straightforward.  One, Apple’s mobile devices are much more constrained in their computing resources (CPU, memory, etc.), while it Macs aren’t so constrained, so you don’t need to place the same restriction on Macs to get an acceptable user’s experience. 

Two, the user, the use, and thus, the user’s experience for Macs and Apple’s mobile devices are different.  When using, your smartphone, the typical phone user won’t tolerate apps causing malfunctions, so Apple has to exert tighter control to better ensure that bad apps won’t cause a bad user’s experience.

Three, security is an even more important issue on Apple’s mobile devices, because the information that they contain is highly personal and sensitive and because Apple’s share in the mobile device market will make iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads the prime targets.  So, once again, Apple needs to exert greater control.

Fourth, as we all know, Apple is trying to create an ecosystem for its mobile devices where developers better, if not fully, exploit the iPhone OS and that does not use technologies that will impede the ability of Apple’s engineers and designers to innovate.  This means exerting, as do the makers of game consoles, minimal regulations on how apps are made and function.  This is not an issue on the Macs, because, well, the ecosystem is already in place and would be practically impossible to transform.  This is not so with Apple’s mobile devices.  It is early days for mobile devices, and Apple wants to make certain that the ecosystem for apps provides the best opportunity for a great user’s experience and great innovation, which means that Apple must exert greater control now to achieve those ends.


I do not think that I would have an issue for a Mac App store, as long as it is not the only way to get software. In fact, I think that this could be a good thing for Apple and its customers. It would make purchasing shareware and other software of that ilk much easier. On the other hand, I would not want this to be my only avenue of getting software onto my Mac.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Gentlemen:? I don?t think that Apple ever intended to control the apps on its computers, as it does its mobile devices.? The reasons for this are straightforward.? One, Apple?s mobile devices are much more constrained in their computing resources (CPU, memory, etc.), while it Macs aren?t so constrained, so you don?t need to place the same restriction on Macs to get an acceptable user?s experience.?

It is such a shame that Apple uses such inferior components and builds such inferior mobile devices. On Android, developers can even replace the home screen. In fact, that’s what many users who buy the HTC Incredible and don’t like the Sense UI experience will do. Users can put PostIt notes and other live widgets on their home screens. Droid users can use any song they have as a ring tone. They can multi-task and it actually integrates and flows, unlike Apple’s proposed iPhone OS 4 implementation. They have a notification scheme that doesn’t get in the user’s way.

Nemo, seriously, if you took off your Apple blinders for a week and used a Nexus One, you wouldn’t see the iPhone as simpler and more refined. You’d see it as the phone equivalent of the Fisher Price Airplane set.

Bryan Chaffin

Bosco, you’re still wrong on this one. There is no right or wrong approach. There’s room for both approaches in the market place. There are merely an increasing number of people who find that having a great, hassle-free user experience is worth not being able to change out your home screen.

How many people will ever, ever do that?

Ted Landau

So, once again, Apple needs to exert greater control.

I have to agree with Bosco re Nemo’s comment. Nemo’s comment sounds as if it was written by Apple Public Relations. The truth is that there are no constraints or malfunctions or security issues that would prevent almost anything that Apple currently restricts.

I have a jailbroken phone with root access to the device and it causes neither me nor Apple nor any other iPhone user the slightest bit of trouble.

The whole business of Apple’s “need” for control is a smokescreen put up by Apple. Why so many users buy into it is beyond me. We may have to accept it because there is not much we can do about. But we don’t have to stand up and cheer it.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Bryan, According to the Android Marketplace, somewhere between 50K and 250K people have downloaded Home++, a replacement home screen app. It currently has 5927 ratings, averaging 4.5 stars. It’s getting 10-20 reviews per day. That’s just one of many. Way back in the day, a similar question might have been, “Who is going to use anything other than Claris Works as an OpenDoc container?”

That’s essentially what HTC does with its Sense UI. And users who don’t like the Sense UI can go to the Marketplace and get something with more of a stock Android feel like Home++. Other manufacturers will do the same.

I’ll also say that my N1 has fewer hassles than my iPhone. When someone texts me, it doesn’t interrupt me pecking or dictating an email. With the Clock app, I can click over to music and choose an album, playlist, or podcast to listen to while I work or fall asleep or whatever. I can stick post it notes on my home screen, along with a music player control, weather, clock, and news. It just really works. Did I mention that Android doesn’t have a concept of “On the Go” playlist, because it doesn’t need it. You can just create and edit real playlists on the phone. And it’s super easy.

Ted, that’s ultimately what will drive Apple’s mobile platform into a small but perhaps comfortable niche. As Android sales catch up (and they will quickly) and surpass, people will be asking:
1. Why can’t I get these thousands of cool Flash games on iPhone?
2. Why can’t I get an iPhone from Verizon or Sprint?
3. Why doesn’t iPhone have turn-by-turn navigation like N1 or Motorola Droid?
4. Why does iPhone have to sync with iTunes, which is a pig under Windows?
5. Why can’t I create a playlist?
6. Why is there such controversy over iPhone from developers?

For both of you… The opportunity to jump on this market is open right now. The general gadget sites don’t offer and depth. Phandroid is great for the nerds. Android Marketplace is very functional, but you could drown in it. Nobody out there who could tell Nemo what apps a good attorney should get or show some neat tricks to my Mom. She’s getting an N1 for her birthday next month.

Bryan Chaffin

Bosco, I didn’t say that there’s no need for the tinkerer’s phone, I said there was room in the market for both approaches, and that a growing number of people want Apple’s approach.

It will never be a majority share, but you’re just flat out wrong to say that Apple’s model is wrong. smile

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I’m sorry Bryan. I missed that point. Sure, there is no right or wrong approach here. And sure, Nexus One on AT&T is nothing but a pissed-off tinkerer’s phone. You don’t get it on contract with a subsidy. You get it because you want to make a point.

However, I also think Apple is assuming a very defensive position without a lot of options it previously had. Sprint and Verizon can both make strong cases to their customers that they don’t need to switch providers to get an amazing and easy to use smartphone. Motorola and Verizon are matching them commercial for commercial on ESPN during the day and in prime time, with steadily increasing comparative commercials, while Apple is still selling smart phones for puppy adoption. We know all about iPhone OS 4 and it doesn’t solve the flow problem. Then there’s litigation and what is obviously some kind of complaint to authorities about the lost iPhone…

The funny part about this is that I’m more confident than ever than Apple will retreat to a small and inconsequential niche in smart phones and tablets. But I’m also outlining my sincere essay on the whole widget, because I’m probably going to lose that particular bet.


You guys, get a room!

Bryan Chaffin

Yep, all fair points, as usual.

But, I think Apple would be quite delighted with, say, the same 10% of the market Steve originally said it wanted. If it could maintain that - a share well below what it currently has - iPhone OS would remain a massively profitable business for Apple, and Apple would continue to be one of the largest electronics firms.


For Bosco and others, who think that there is no merit to Apple both taking the time to do multitasking right and regulating how apps for its mobile devices are made, here is one businessman, whose experience is evidence that Steve Jobs and his engineers have a correct view of the issues and the solutions.  See 

Bosco and Mr. Landau are experts, who can manage the problems that Android imposes on its users.  The iPhone, however, is not only made for the expert but for the novice, as well, who, lacking the expert’s expertise, needs and very much wants a smartphone that deals with these problems in its code and in its design. That is why I think that the market will continue to vindicate the decisions that Steve Jobs has made regarding the iPhone OS. 

For developers, who reject Apple’s approach to the design and licit regulation of its products or who don’t think that the potential rewards of the iPhone are worth its burdens, they have a ready alternative in Google’s Android.  For others, who reject Apple’s approach as some excessive and improper exertion of control and who don’t think that the iPhone’s merits are worth suffering Apple’s control, the market also offers alternative smartphones for you. 

But before you wax lyrica about Google’s openness, you may wish to read this:

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nemo, Both excellent articles that you reference. Yeah, voice recognition for dialing is one advantage clearly on the iPhone side, especially when you’re in a spotty coverage area where you don’t have a 3G data signal. I will readily concede that point. I am awaiting delivery of my N1 car dock today in hopes that it might make my N1 more and safely usable in the truck.

The multi-tasking point, not so relevant. One thing you notice quickly in the Android Marketplace if you make an effort to read 10 or 20 reviews before buying/installing an app is that the reviews will tell you which apps are battery hogs and which slow down your phone. If your battery drains quickly or the phone behaves sluggishly, the “Settings” will tell you who the culprits are. Transparency is very, very high. There are apps whose sole purpose is to make this stuff even more transparent. I predict that a good process manager app that hid the geekiness and shined friendly light on the issue would become an essential bundled app. Under Apple’s model in OS 4, there isn’t the same transparency on the user end. It relies on Apple catching memory and processor hogs in the approval process. And the bad part of that is that it overlooks reasonable trade-offs that some would take option A and others option B.

One other point that comes out of the “business” article is ubiquity. The guy saw a thermostat running Android! To me, that’s where the giant win is. Assume that Apple leads usability by a factor of 10 over Android for the sake of argument. Despite how comparatively awful Android is, when mastery of it on your phone means that you’ve mastered a whole slew of devices from thermostats to televisions, the ease of use that comes from familiarity will beat that 10x lead on one device. And the “not so open” (as the second article asserts) Android platform stack means the platform can be cheaply integrated into devices that used to need custom (expensive and inflexible) OS’s to achieve any connectivity. It’s easy in principle with Android devices to, for example, set your thermostat using your microwave or TV if all are running Android. Compare to what home automaters have to go through with X10.

Apple will never deliver a ubiquitous cross-device experience because it just won’t. Alone, without licensees, and without a great deal of low-friction experimentation that mostly results in epic failure, it can’t. Android, on the other hand, probably will because it actively encourages the unplanned. Today, that attitude manifests itself in handset availability across carriers. Tomorrow, its running the same familiar apps on your TV and your phone.

Ted Landau

For others, who reject Apple?s approach as some excessive and improper exertion of control and who don?t think that the iPhone?s merits are worth suffering Apple?s control, the market also offers alternative smartphones for you.?

You have all the right qualifiers in the above quote. That is, you say the alternative of a Google Android is not to be taken simply because someone “rejects” Apple’s approach but only if that someone also find the merits of the iPhone to be outweighed by Apple’s approach.

However, whenever I read such comments, I often suspect that the comments are not entirely sincere ? that what the person is really saying is: “The fact that you continue to use an iPhone is evidence that your criticism is invalid. So put up or shut up. Either cease your criticism or switch to a different brand of phone.”

I don’t believe these are the only two alternatives. It is perfectly valid to continue to use an iPhone, to be happy with it overall, and to still speak up about aspects of how it works that one believes are seriously wrong.


Dear Bosco:  I am afraid that the typical user often does not read the reviews, nor does he have much facility with a task manager.  So, yes, the multitasking thing in Android is a problem for Google with the average user and is becoming more so, as Google discovered when it released the Nexus One with the adequate tech support.  That was and continues to be a disaster for Google, because, as I am sure Google can attest, the typical user doesn’t get it.  That user just loads apps until the Nexus One and other Android phones break or slow to the speed of molasses in January. 

Bosco, you are too much the expert.  Jobs on the other hand isn’t an engineer.  The build has to ready on Thursday, and he takes it home for the weekend and uses it like a regular guy.  If he loads a bunch of apps and the prototype slows or breaks, Apple’s engineers hear about it on Monday morning, and the prototype goes back for a redo.  I imagine that it goes something like this:  Well guys we tried that Android phone solution on the boss, and now I need a colostomy bag for my new asshole, so we’ve have got to come up with something that will just work, when he uses it in all those stupid non-engineer ways.  That is not you Bosco.  You are one of the engineers.  For you, with your expertise, the Nexus One’s solution to multitasking is just fine.  Unfortunately, that ain’t the mass market.

Your ubiquity argument also fails because the iPhone is already ubiquitous in apps or, at least, it has a broader range of apps that do more things than any other smartphone.  That relative ubiquity combined with the ease of use that you concede makes the iPhone the victor in the market, especially for the IT manager that has to deploy large numbers of phones across all types of users, most of whom aren’t even close to being able to handle a task manager.

As for you Ted, if I may call you Ted, you said it; I didn’t.  Notwithstanding all of your objections, the public is choosing iPhones, and most of them aren’t jailbreaking them.  Choices do come down to choosing among the smartphones on the market.  And today, despite Apple’s controlling ways or, as I believe, because of them, the iPhone is winning in the market.

Ted Landau

Notwithstanding all of your objections, the public is choosing iPhones, and most of them aren?t jailbreaking them.

Noting that most people aren’t jailbreaking devices is hardly an argument against some of the pluses that jailbreaking provides. The main reason more people aren’t jailbreaking is because Apple makes it so hard to do and actively scares people from trying with warnings as to the dire consequences of it.

If Apple offered an easy way to access these apps, or provided the apps within the App Store itself, I believe that many many users would be delighted with the results. In many cases, the lack of user complaints comes from ignorance. I mean if you didn’t know that microwave ovens existed, you probably wouldn’t be complaining that your standard oven can’t defrost food. That doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t welcome the discovery of microwave ovens.

Done right, access to these apps need not require that you be an “expert.” Even if it did, done right, most users could simply ignore a supposed “expert mode” - without making the iPhone any more difficult for them to use.

The iPhone is great and is deservedly winning in the market place. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t be improved. Or that we shouldn’t complain about what we think is wrong with it.

Ted Landau

As for you Ted, if I may call you Ted, you said it; I didn?t.

I hope by the above quote you did not mean that you agree with the “put up or shut up” sentiment.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Ted, I can promise this… If side-loading unapproved software on my iPhone didn’t involve violating the EULA, I’d never have bothered looking at Android. That also would have taken 3.3.1 out of the mix too.

As for the “take it or leave it” argument, note how the people who perpetuate the argument treat the arguments of those who leave it. For example, if you believe this story, Android web traffic in the US has passed iPhone web traffic. Yet according to Nemo, regular people are too stupid to read reviews or learn about a process manager.

I think on balance though, you have the same thoughts about jailbreaking that I do about Android now. Which is that you know that people who preach against it must think you’re stupid, because their FUD doesn’t jibe with reality. In my view, that’s the main problem with the new Apple.


Ted, I was merely making the point that the alternatives for the ordinary user isn’t writing a well respected critical blog or post but simply to choose to buy one smartphone as opposed to another, and that currently customers/users are choosing the iPhone.

I do, however, take issue with you ascribing motives as to why the large majority of people aren’t jailbreaking their iPhones.  We know that they aren’t, and I don’t think that it is because Apple has frightened them away from unregulated apps.  The reason that I believe to be true is that they don’t need or want to jailbreak their iPhones.  Both the iPhone and the apps in the App Store satisfy their needs and wants so that risking damaging your iPhone, voiding your warranty, possibly degrading your iPhone’s performance, possibly making your iPhone incompatible with Apple’s future innovations, and breaking the iPhone’s security model, all to get at applications that are highly unlikely to be as rich, as safe, and of as high a quality as what can be had in the App Store doesn’t make any sense.

As for Apple, it is not going to provide a legit way to get apps outside of the App Store, and I find that its business and technical reasons for doing so are sound and well within the ambit of its legal rights.  And because I find Apple’s business and particularly its technical reasons to be sound and just, opening the iPhone to unregulated apps would result in a significant, if not dramatic, decline in the experience of using Apple’s mobile devices for the vast majority of users.


Bosco, I have not anywhere called anyone stupid.  I think that most people aren’t interested in these matters.  Because the average person isn’t interested in these matters doesn’t make them stupid, and I have never said anything that could reasonably be read to the contrary.

As for AdMob’s figures:  Isn’t that a case of Google, which now owns AdMob, measuring itself and concluding that it won in the U.S. in March.  Now, it may be true, but you will understand, if I suggest that AdMob and its measurements can no longer be regarded as unbiased.

Ted Landau

I do, however, take issue with you ascribing motives as to why the large majority of people aren?t jailbreaking their iPhones.

I’ve reached the end of the road for this conversation. I appreciate your replies. Aside from agreeing with you that Apple is not about to make any of the changes I would like, I disagree with most everything else you said. I’ll just leave it at that.

Ted Landau

I take my “end of the road” back. I feel compelled to add one more comment. I apologize for my equivocation.

Nemo, when you say that jailbreak applications are “highly unlikely to be as rich, as safe, and of as high a quality as what can be had in the App Store,” you miss my point.

Even if what you say were true (and I believe it only applies in some cases)—it does not mean anything. It gets back to the chicken and egg. You say people avoid these apps because they are poorly done. I say a good part of the reason they may be poorly done is because Apple has forced them into such a corner that it is almost impossible to make any money from them. So why bother spending the time and money to do a better job?

If Apple ever officially allowed a more open environment, I am confident we would see great apps, wonderfully designed, that would do all sorts of exciting and desirable things that Apple now prohibits. I’ve cited numerous examples of this in my columns.


Well, Ted, the history of software development on PCs in general and the Mac in particular unequivocally show that the unregulated development of software, especially when combined with third party tools that are provided with the motive of promoting a proprietary standard, lead to proportionally more bad software.  Steve Jobs is thoroughly conversant with that history, having lived it.  I accept the lessons of history and concur with Mr. Jobs’ view on these matters.  Therefore, I disagree completely with your contention that such an open environment, as exist for PC software, would lead to great software, believing that it would do exactly the opposite. 

Developers have a great set of free tools, and the regulations that cabin their activities on the iPhone OS are so broad that all but a few categories of activity and a small percentage of apps are proscribed, and those few proscriptions lead to a superior experience on Apple’s mobile devices for the vast majority of its customers.

We agree to disagree.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Well, Ted, the history of software development on PCs in general and the Mac in particular unequivocally show that the unregulated development of software, especially when combined with third party tools that are provided with the motive of promoting a proprietary standard, lead to proportionally more bad software.

It’s funny. The second biggest defender of the iPhone in my life right now is the CEO of the company that makes my cross-platform tools. Such extreme ignorance above…

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