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iPad pulls Fraser Speirs back in to iPhone OS development

TJ Luoma, @tjluoma

When I saw Mac developer Fraser Speirs' Twitter post linking to a blog entry titled "Back In" I knew what it was about: the App Store.

Back in September 2008, Fraser announced he was ceasing new iPhone OS development in a widely-linked post titled "App Store: I'm out".

Fraser wasn't the first or last to announce that he was giving up on the App Store, but he is the first that I'm aware of who has come back. Why? Because to ignore the iPhone OS is to risk missing too many potential new customers. He says that he hasn't seen any comparable alternatives to the iPhone platform, and with the arrival of the iPad, Apple's mobile device platform is the place to be. "I have to ask myself if there's a train that I would rather be on," says Speirs. "I don't see one right now, and I don't see one coming down the track."

Does this mean that he's abandoned his criticism of the App Store? Does he think that everything is fine? Hardly. Instead, he sees things as unlikely to change, despite the fact that he and others publicly left the App Store in the hopes of changing Apple's policies: "The direction of the iPhone OS ecosystem is now clear. To stick to an opinion regardless is to see the world as you would like it to be, not as it actually is. Down that road lies the Free Software Foundation, and I have zero interest in finding myself in 2020 a bitter forty-something man fighting the battles of a decade ago."

To put it another way: the App Store is still broken, but it's the only option available, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. He can either develop for it under Apple's conditions or not at all, and he'd rather be a part of it. Towards that end he makes an interesting comparison: "[iPhone OS developers are] building components for the Boeing or Airbus ecosystems now. Nothing wrong with that -- many people do a great job and make a very good living at that. What is lost is the software equivalent of the romance of flight."

So while others want you to ignore the iPad and wait for some mythical "open" alternative, Fraser sees the iPad as the best option available with few contenders likely to appear anytime soon. (I'm sure we'll continue to read articles about "iPad killers" just as we have for the iPod.)

Being able to change your mind is a sign of maturity. I applauded those developers who left the App Store (which I still regard as deeply flawed in many aspects). I respect those who have left, and I respect Fraser for being able to admit that he wants to be a part of this 'next big thing.'

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