Apple hates developers

My employer will soon release a smartphone app (iPhone and Android), for the first time.  Actually we will release several apps for several customers.  These customers pay my employer to take care of all the technical stuff, so we release the apps in their names. And I got the task of registering developer accounts for each customer. In stead of explaining how much work in is and how frustating that work is, I will give you an example of how Apple works.

I started registering over a week ago, and I just got my first rejection. I made a mistake in the registration. I spelled a named correctly, and now I am being punished for it. The contact at the customers company is called “Jens Elkjær”. Well actually he isn’t, but there is an “æ” in his name. I was previously adviced by a colleague that special characters are problematic, and I should avoid them. I just overlooked this one. Copying and pasting name, address email etc. for dozens of accounts numbs your brain, and I overlooked this single character. I also overlooked a couple in the addresses, but those could be changed later.

There was nothing to indicate any kind of error, until I reached a confirmation page. The name was displayed like this: “Jens Elk�r”. (The “æ” is replaced with the “replacement character“.) It was too late. I could not go back and change the name. I could submit the application now or I could rage a while and then submit it.

Today I got this email (anonymized, emphasis is mine):

Date: 17-02-2011 10:13
Subject: Re: iOS Developer Program

Please include the line below in follow-up emails for this request.

Follow-up: XXXXX

Re: iOS Developer Program

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are in the process of reviewing your iOS Developer Program enrollment information.

In reviewing your Company Enrollment application XXXXX, I have found the following information:

Enrollment Reference Number: XXXXX
Program: Standard Program
Enrollment Type: Company/Organization
Applicant Name: Jens Elkjær

Please know that the applicant’s name does not appear correctly. I have withdrawn your Enrollment XXXXX and you can submit a new Enrollment Request. I would advise you not to use foreign characters, as they are not recognizable from our system.

Should you wish to enroll again for the Standard Program, please submit a new enrollment using a different Apple ID and email address than the ones used for your original enrollment. Before submitting your NEW Enrollment, please clear your browser’s cookies, cache and history, ensure that it is configured to accept all cookies, quit and restart your browser.

Once you have completed the new enrollment, please then contact us back with the NEW Enrollment ID so that we review the NEW application.

We hope that this information is useful to you. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding this information.

Best regards,

Apple Developer Support

My list of criticisms is not short.

1. The danish special letters are part of the character set “ISO 8859-1″ also known as “latin 1″. This character set was published in 1985, registered as at internet standard in 1992, and is the default character set in HTTP since version 1.0 published in 1996. However, if international characters is important (such as if you are collecting names from all over the world), you should use the more modern character set UTF, which is rapidly becoming a standard replacing 8859-1. In short, Apple really should just support the danish special letters. It’s not hard, practically everybody else does. It has been many years since last time I saw a system that didn’t support them by default.

2. If the danish special letters is not supported, the website could easily have informed me of this. The primitive solution would be a simple text: “In english letters only.” But the professional way would be to validate the input. This is very easy to do. Very.

3. The confirmation page didn’t allow me to go back and change it.

4. So they don’t support “æ” but they accepted it anyway. And then I can’t just go into profile settings and change it. I can change address, phone-numer, email-address, company name… Anything but the name. If a person actually changes name (this happens quite often, typically when getting married), it cannot be changed in the Apple profile. This reminds me of a phonecompany that got my name wrong in the phonebook and couldn’t change me. They said I had to change phonecompany to correct my name. Of course I did. I don’t do business with amateurs if I have a choice.

5. So there’s “æ” in the name and I can’t do anything about it. Will Apple do it for me? No. (BTW: “æ” will look like that when it is saved or transmitted as UTF-8 and read as 8859-1.)

6. So there’s “æ” in the name and it’s not going to change. Apple just have to accept it. They don’t. They reject the application.

7. It’ no use just applying again. I have to make a new profile, and THEN apply again.

8. The new profile can’t have the same id as the old one. So I can’t use the same id for the iOS app as for the Android app. This complicates managing alle these accounts for my customers.

9. The new profile can’t have the same email-address as the old one. Others have tried, unsuccessfully. But that’s the correct one. That is the one the customer has. Of course the customer has other addresses, but none of those are right one. They have to create a new address, and make it forward everything. I need to tell this to a colleague. He will contact our contact person. He will contact their IT department. They will find a technician to do it. According to my experience there is a good chance it won’t work, and I need to start the chain again.

This is not a list of trouble I’ve had during the process so far. This just one single example from a long list of unnecessary problems. I find it very hard to believe that Apple is so incompetent. Maybe they are indifferent about the quality of their work? Nah, I’ve been told so many times by Apple-fans that quality is what Apple is all about.

No, it’s very simple: Apple hates developers. And I hate Apple.

2 comments to Apple hates developers

  • Anders Christensen

    This really is fuel for my fire. I am one of those whith an oposition to everything Apple does. Not their (mediocre) hardware, that usually works (*cough* iPhone4 antenna *cough*), it’s not that they force you to use their products the way they intend – you can just go somewhere else, I did.
    No It’s the fact that they praise themselves as the valid alternative to opressive Microsoft and yet they are even more opressive themselves. So far they have been saved by the cool-factor and the fact that their OS-core is unix-based and way more shiny than any other alternative.
    In my view Apple will begin to see problems with their own conduct in the future. Now that Apple-products are more and more commonly owned, the coolness-factor is dwindling and it gets more and more profitable for mallware-creators to target apple-products, making many of the upsides to using Apple-products dissapear (and don’t get me started on iTunes…*shakes fist*).

    The fact that a company that claims to be innovative can’t even manage to stick to a standard from 1992 is appaling – especially when they are so big on useability and they don’t let you go back and change your selection.

    My dear friend – I feel your pain !!

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