API Boycott

By Mike / On / In Technology

Now that we are all up to speed on this whole Lodsys situation, what do we do? The reality is, there is nothing we as indie developers can do.

If we pay, we are collaborators in our own demise, as the precedent this sets will open a floodgate of parasites extorting licensing fees for their alleged patents, knowing we are too weak and too scared to do anything but pay.

If we don’t pay, we’ll still be out of business, just quicker, as we are sued out of existence.

Apple, on the other hand, has infinite money, skilled legal council, and skin in the game. They have benefited mightily from their developer ecosystem, and the approach of Lodsys and their ilk should trigger the same response farmers have when they find parasites on their cash crop.

I have every faith that Apple will ultimately stand up and fix this. We can’t assume they will do this out of altruism. There’s just no other response that makes sense for them from a business standpoint. Unfortunately for us, they also have infinite time, and are typically conservative in their response.

For the real people fighting this new war, like James Thomson and Iconfactory, they run the very real risk of becoming casualties. We need to light a fire under Apple that makes sure they do the inevitable as quickly as possible, before it’s too late for our colleagues and friends.

Faced with an unbeatable enemy, Gandhi called a boycott. Armed with nothing but force of will, Martin Luther King Jr called a boycott. If great men like these were developing apps, they would say the same thing: boycott.

What I propose is this: for every API that is infected by parasites, we cut off the branch and boycott the API. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to be able to use an API without being sued, the same way it’s not unreasonable to expect to use an API without getting spam.

If having 3,000 updates hit the app store “removing in app purchase to avoid being sued” doesn’t get Apple to move, the revenue loss surely will.