Don't Shoot The Apps Developer
Apps are a phenomenon. Thousands of small businesses are now making a living out of developing apps for Apple iOS and deploying to iPhone and iPad. The news reported on Macworld.com that a patent owner is planning to sue developers is going to be a considerable problem for many of them, and here’s why.
Although apps sell by the bucket load, the margins are often very small. So even though the patent holder “only” plans to seek 0.5% of revenue in the U.S. it will still reduce valuable top line income. Not only that, but many of these small companies would never consider making provision for a possible lawsuit when writing their business plan: why would they? Apple’s patent should have covered it. And this could be the thin end of the wedge. Will developers be stung for another 0.5% or more in future once the legal precedent is established?
Stacks of people are in the process of starting an apps development business based on the fact that they have a good idea and iOS is the ideal platform for it. OK, they should pay something for the right to use the platform, but to Apple, surely. A “cottage industry” has sprung up and it needs to be allowed to flourish, developers need to have the freedom to let their products mature in the market place without threats of legal action.
Ethically, the responsibility is Apple’s and/or the patent holder to resolve this between them, and in any case they both stand to gain if they do. Conversely, they both stand to lose if large numbers of small apps developers go under because they couldn’t afford to go to court and challenge a ruling at this level.
Either Apple should pick up the tab for this, or small businesses should be exempt. It is not fair or in anyone’s interest for this legal action to continue in this way.