inessential by Brent Simmons

What should Apple do?

As I said previously, I’m not worried about NetNewsWire. I think the situation with Konfabulator and Dashboard is very different from the situation with Safari and NetNewsWire.

The commentary on the Konfabulator situation has been interesting. Some of it has been knee-jerk: “How dare Apple!” and, on the other hand, “Apple is totally right!”

Here’s what I think:

Apple wants to sell more Macs—and I as a Mac developer want them to sell more Macs. One way to do that is to add features and applications to their operating system. Another way to do that is make sure that the competition doesn’t have a ton of cool stuff that they don’t have.

I have absolutely no problem with that. It makes total sense.

But, at the same time, Apple can’t do everything—they need other developers to make software for OS X too.

What concerns me is the message the Dashboard thing sends. It goes like this, “If you come up with a good idea and develop a successful product, we might copy it and bundle it for free with the OS.”

In other words, you could be penalized—heavily—for doing a good job, for doing exactly what every developer works very hard to do.

It would take so little for Apple to have made the Konfabulator folks happy. Some money, some recognition. (“Little” is relative: little to Apple, big to the Konfabulator folks.) And it would let other developers know that Apple cares about OS X developers, that it wants people to develop for OS X, that it’s safe to come up with great ideas and great products.

Forget ethics—it’s just good PR. Worth ten times the price they would have paid.

(A reminder: this post isn’t about NetNewsWire and Safari, which is a completely different thing. This is about Konfabulator and Dashboard.)