Posts Tagged ‘independent developers’

Open Source Increasingly Replaced By Open APIs

December 30th, 2011 12:50 admin View Comments


SharkLaser writes “Open APIs might be the way to get rich in 2012. At the same time, it can also be what ultimately hinders open source development. A wide range of companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter, are building open APIs for other developers to use and build upon. Open APIs can be used by companies to grow their user base and introduce new, interesting features on top of their platform. Independent developers can utilize established services and their users to grow their own business. A perfect example of open APIs is Facebook Apps, which lets individuals and companies develop applications and games on top of the Facebook platform. Developers gain access to Facebook’s established user base and Facebook gains new features and fun stuff to do on their site. Instead of open sourcing their platforms, companies like Google and Facebook are providing Open APIs and data access to outside developers. The actual source code for the services sits safely inside the company’s network and never needs to be disclosed to outside parties, thus hindering open source development.”

Source: Open Source Increasingly Replaced By Open APIs

Twitter Starts to Monetize the Right to Repost Tweets Online

November 7th, 2011 11:31 admin View Comments

Twitter is cutting deals with 3rd party providers of services that re-syndicate Tweets online, the company announced today, and the first one is Austin, Texas based Mass Relevance. Mass Relevance has access to the full Twitter fire hose and offers its customers a filtering, curation and display technology to add Tweets about a TV show, political campaign or other event to their web pages.

The potential for syndicated Tweets is big, but hopefully Twitter won’t go after everyone else in the world who puts Tweets on other websites as a part of their business. The company doesn’t seem to be welcoming interested parties to license those rights either. We’ve asked Twitter for comment on the prospect of enforcement of the prohibition against unofficial resyndication of Tweets (who said this stuff was free as the wind?) but haven’t heard back from the company yet.

Mass Relevance looks like a cool service, it seems pretty straight forward. There’s no indication of how much the company paid for the right to resell Tweets, but they probably paid dearly.

Twitter as a developer platform has traveled a rocky road, lots of highs and lots of lows. Enabling serious business use of Tweets is going to be an important next step. Hopefully that will happen in a way that’s accessible to small developers, in order that those developers can create the fabulous things that a broad ecosystem can come up with better than a limited set of high-end companies will.

Writing on the Twitter developers’ blog, Twitter’s Jason Costa wrote today, “Expect to see additional partnerships of this kind as we look for new ways to help everyone get the best out of Twitter.”

ORLY? That doesn’t sound like “click here to buy a license.” That sounds like Twitter is going to drive this themselves, the company is looking for new ways to help everyone get the best out of Twitter. Isn’t the lesson of a platform though that no company will ever be able to discover as much innovation as a larger ecosystem of independent developers will?

Am I the only one feeling uncomfortable about this?

Source: Twitter Starts to Monetize the Right to Repost Tweets Online

Sony Ericsson Helps Out FreeXperia Developers

October 3rd, 2011 10:15 admin View Comments

Open Source

hypnosec writes “Smartphone maker Sony Ericsson has decided to work closely with developers creating custom Android ROMs for devices in order to learn from them. The company said in a blog post that it has decided to support an open source developer group called ‘FreeXperia,’ which creates custom Android ROMs based on the CyanogenMod for several Sony Ericsson phones like the Xperia ARC and Play. Sony Ericsson maintained that it does not approve of some of the work carried out by independent developers but was keen to work with people who were creating custom ROMs.”

Source: Sony Ericsson Helps Out FreeXperia Developers

App Developers Pulling Their Apps From US App Store Fearing Lawsuits

July 17th, 2011 07:29 admin View Comments

App Store

The legal tussle between App developers and patent trolls doesn’t seem to end. The newest addition to the list of patent trolls is Kootol, an India based company, which has sent legal notices to a number of companies including App development firm Iconfactory – developer of Twitterrific – a popular Twitter app. Kotool software claims they infringe on a US patent for Twitter style real time feeds.

Even if App developers are not infringing on these patents, it is very difficult for them fight a case in court and pay fees for a lawyer. So unless a big company with loads of cash like Apple backs them up, they have no choice but to spit out the money, hungry patent trolls demand.

The good news till now for developers outside US is that these lawsuits have remained confined to the United States. As a precautionary measure to avoid any legal issues with firms like Lodsys, independent developers in Europe are pulling their apps from the US App Store as well as the Android Market.

Simon Maddox is one such developer who removed all his apps from the US App Store and Android Market. He doesn’t loose out on much since most of his revenue comes from UK.

Shaun Austin, another UK based developer tweeted “selling software in the US has already reached the non-viable tipping point”. Removing apps from the US store is only a temporary solution for European app developers, since it won’t take long for these lawsuits to reach European shores. Kotool Software has already filed for the realtime feeds patent in Europe, Canada and India.

This is just a few people echoing sentiments of an entire community including not just developers but even users, who see patents not protecting but in fact killing innovation. Legal notices and lawsuits weren’t all that popular in the age of desktop apps, but with the goldmine that mobile applications are, we see firms that do absolutely nothing jump into the scene to get a share of the pie.

Taking advantage of the ambiguous language of the patent, we see firms claiming infringement for something as ridiculous as a “Get full version” link within the app.

The only solution seems to be software giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft stepping up to protecting their developers with their big bucks. We have already seen Apple taking a stance against Lodsys, but a lot of these companies including Apple are busy fighting their own patent wars.

Independent developers have released some of the top selling apps and games, killing such innovation is bad for the entire community.

What’s your take on the whole situation?  Shout out in the comments section.

[via Guardian]

Source: App Developers Pulling Their Apps From US App Store Fearing Lawsuits

Microsoft Developer Made the Most Changes To Linux 3.0 Code

July 16th, 2011 07:23 admin View Comments


sfcrazy sends this quote from the H: “The 343 changes made by Microsoft developer K. Y. Srinivasan put him at the top of a list, created by, of developers who made the most changes in the current development cycle for Linux 3.0. Along with a number of other ‘change sets,’ Microsoft provided a total of 361 changes, putting it in seventh place on the list of companies and groups that contributed code to the Linux kernel. By comparison, independent developers provided 1,085 change sets to Linux 3.0, while Red Hat provided 1,000 and Intel 839.”

Source: Microsoft Developer Made the Most Changes To Linux 3.0 Code

UK Developers Quit US App Store Over Patent Fears

July 16th, 2011 07:35 admin View Comments


iamflimflam1 writes “The Guardian is running a story on how app developers in the UK are withdrawing from the US app store over patent fears. ‘The growth of patent lawsuits over apps raises serious issues for all the emerging smartphone platforms, because none of the principal companies involved — Apple, Google or Microsoft — can guarantee to protect developers from them. Even when the mobile OS developer has signed a patent licence — as Apple has with at least one company currently pursuing patent lawsuits — it is not clear that it has any legal standing to defend developers.’ This follows a blog post from the iconfactory about the death of independent developers. Have the big corporations really won? What is the future for small teams and one-man-band developers?”

Source: UK Developers Quit US App Store Over Patent Fears

Microsoft’s SkyDrive Drops Silverlight

June 21st, 2011 06:19 admin View Comments


mikejuk writes “Microsoft’s SkyDrive, a web service that provides cloud storage for end user files, has just acquired a revamped user interface — and it is HTML5 based. Yes, another Microsoft website has dropped Silverlight. How can Microsoft expect independent developers to base their future on Silverlight when Microsoft itself is abandoning it like a sinking ship? Whatever happened to ‘eating your own dog food’? It seems that now Microsoft would rather eat dog food made elsewhere…”

Source: Microsoft’s SkyDrive Drops Silverlight

Android Game Devs Worry Over Ease of Copying

March 17th, 2011 03:27 admin View Comments


The Guardian reports on problems faced by game makers on Android Market. Some independent developers are finding that their games are too easily copied and sold by competitors, and they say Google isn’t reacting quickly enough to reports of infringement. Quoting: “One of my customers emailed me three weeks ago, and informed me that another company was selling a version of my app – pirated and uploaded as their own. Of course I contacted Google right away. It took Google two days to take the app down. This publisher was also selling other versions of pirated games. I contacted the original developers of those games but they were still being sold a week later. You’d think [Google] might have a hotline for things like that! I would also note that the publisher selling the pirated games is still trading on the Android Market. They didn’t even get their account suspended. … Why are these accounts still allowed to be trading? It’s negligent as far as I’m concerned.”

Source: Android Game Devs Worry Over Ease of Copying

Is “App Store” As Generic As Microsoft’s “Windows”?

March 1st, 2011 03:55 admin View Comments

As tech companies fight for ubiquity, it’s no surprise that there should be disputes like this. Using common words for product names is always a risk, as is establishing generic traditions (like Apple’s “i-” prefix) that are difficult to regulate. At stake today is Apple’s trademark on “App Store,” which as I’m sure our readers are aware, was established in 2008 as arguably the first real marketplace through which independent developers could offer mobile applications, games, and so on.

They filed for the trademark at the same time. Since then, however, it has been contended by Microsoft in particular that Apple has no exclusive right to so generic a term, one which arguably could apply to any other mobile application store. It’s as if Kleenex trademarked “tissue” as well. Apple just turned the argument around, however, noting that Microsoft itself is maintaining a plainly generic term for its most prominent product: Windows. Windows, as we all know, are both transparent portals allowing light to pass from outside to inside, and a visual metaphor for navigating a computer operating system.

It’s a point worth considering. But not the only one.

Apple has a strong case: “App Store” was more or less popularized by them. There were no competitors for some time so “App Store” referred only to Apple’s for quite a long time. “App Store” is also (they say) a “double entendre” meant to evoke the Apple Store. That one surely got some eye rolls in the industry. Still, the term wasn’t chosen arbitrarily. And competitors have options, as evidenced by the names the likes of Google and RIM have come up with.

Microsoft’s claims are equally rational, though: can you really trademark such a broad term, just by being the first one there? “Any secondary meaning or fame Apple has in ‘App Store’ is de facto secondary meaning that cannot convert the generic term ‘app store’ into a protectable trademark.” In other words, “App Store” didn’t blow up because of Apple, but because it’s the term anyone would reach for when describing something of this type. It’s telling (but not legally obligating) that every similar service could also be called an “app store.” Observe this beautiful Venn diagram:

Surely that counts for something? The counter-argument is, of course, that we use that term now because it’s the term Apple made us use. It’s a chicken-egg argument of innovation or imitation. Let’s be honest, though, in the tech industry that’s rarely much of an argument. 99 times out of 100 it’s imitation.

Apple’s jab at Microsoft over the term Windows has slightly different factors, but it really is remarkably similar. Like Apple, Microsoft popularized but did not invent the “window” method of navigating a file system. You’re viewing this in a window, though you may not be viewing it in Windows. But Microsoft doesn’t go after people who say their application or OS opens a window, though there are equally applicable words: viewer, panel, tab. But “windows” are hardly a selling point now for OSes, and of course if Apple decided to change the name of OS X to “Windows OS X” because it has windows, Microsoft would have kittens.

Perhaps Apple can lay claim to popularizing the word “app”? That’s questionable. It’s just a diminutive of the term application, a term in use long before.

Furthermore, doesn’t the App Store operate under the umbrella of the iTunes Store? Look, in iTunes there’s an “Apps” section, next to Music and Movies. It’s not a separate store, really, any more than the music and movies sections are separate from each other. iTunes helped popularize online music ownership, yet Apple didn’t attempt to trademark “Music Store.” Isn’t it analogous?

There are numerous examples of trademarks becoming common words: Lego, Frisbee, Tazer. But these are nonsense words. They don’t refer to what they do. Apple seems to be attempting to do just this. It’s not clear whether Apple’s trademark is lawful, right, both, or neither. It’s a very nuanced issue. My personal opinion would be that “App Store” was generic to begin with but only had a sort of frosting of originality on it. But it’s a distinction of exceeding niceness, and a little argument might sway me the other direction.

What do you guys think? Is this a pot and kettle situation for Microsoft, with its Word and Office trademarks, or is Apple overreaching?

Devin Coldewey (like “cold-away”) is a freelance writer and photographer based in Seattle. His personal website is, and you can reach him at devin at crunchgear dot com.

Source: Is “App Store” As Generic As Microsoft’s “Windows”?

Every City Needs This: Mobile Public Art Finder

March 1st, 2011 03:46 admin View Comments


Portland, Oregon is known for many things but one of them is its availability of public data. When the local government included listings of 429 pieces of public art in the data it made available to independent developers, Matt Blair took the logical and admirable step of turning that data into an iPhone app. The Portland Public Art Finder makes it easy to discover and learn about murals, sculptures, installations and more.

It’s a great way to learn about those works of art you might see regularly but never know the story behind, or to discover new gems in your or a new neighborhood. Blair told Mike Rogoway of the Portland Oregonian, who wrote about the app first, that he had no idea how much art was around town before seeing the data made available. Talk about augmented reality! What city wouldn’t benefit from apps like this?

The app makes it easy for users to submit suggestions for new listings to be included and Blair says he’ll be adding more over the coming months. While the map makes class and race differences all the more evident, it’s great to learn about the few murals where I live and I look forward to using this app on a walking tour downtown soon.

It’s not hard to imagine integration of check-in apps, Wikipedia links, public commenting and shared discussion of works of art, their meaning and history. So much is made possible when geocoded data becomes programmatically available.

Source: Every City Needs This: Mobile Public Art Finder