Fighting iPhone App Store Stockholm Syndrome with Easter Eggs

Some iPhone app store developers are beginning to suffer from Stockholm syndrome and are now sympathizing and fighting on behalf of their captor, known as the iPhone approval process.

From Wikipedia’s article on Stockholm Syndrome:

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed.

And just as Patty Hearst picked up a machine gun to rob a bank while being held captive by the Symbionese Liberation Army, these developers are attacking the sane programmers trying to save them.

Here’s a guest post on TechCrunch where Matt Galligan, a CEO of an iPhone app development shop where he calls out Yelp for not abiding by Apple’s rules:

Call it sneaky, call it clever, but I call it deceit. Apple has put forth specific guidelines, and “rules” around their app development, and while I don’t always agree, it’s the reality of how we must work with them for now. Yelp hid their easter egg behind shaking the device, which isn’t always the most intuitive action to take on an app that contains some maps and lists. As a result, the unsanctioned Augmented Reality view was gone from Apple’s radar.

Why is Galligan chastising Yelp? Sure, he acknowledges, the app store may act badly sometimes, but hey, rules are rules, right?

Wrong. He should be commending Yelp for putting their app’s approval on the line by risking Apple’s wrath. Yelp must have one of the most popular free apps in the iPhone app store, so it is quite a risk to release it with functionality purposely hidden from Apple.

But its the right kind of risk; it’s gutsy, offers a new whiz-bang feature, and asserts Yelp’s right to develop whatever features they want outside the scrutiny of their captor.  These are values that all developers need more of when creating iPhone applications.

And, if as Galligan predicts, Yelp’s risk forces the App Store approval process to spend more time digging through source to discover undocumented functionality using forbidden (Gasp!) API calls, then maybe it will demonstrate to Apple that it’s just not worth treating your developers like hostages, and they’ll dismantle the approval process entirely.

Apple now has such strict control over the development process that some developers have clearly lost the ability to think for themselves. That means we have to find every opportunity to encourage them to fight against their captor’s tyranny.

That means encouraging risks like Yelp’s and developing more Easter eggs for iPhone apps.

So if you’re reading this and are also currently developing an iPhone app, think about including an Easter Egg that might rankle Apple. You won’t be ruining it for the rest of us, you’ll be chipping away at the wall of Apple’s tyranny over developers.

1 comment
  1. Sure. I will think about it

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