A while ago, I wrote about Dave Frampton who developed the hugely popular Chopper series of games for Mac OS X and iPhone OS, for the NZ Herald.
That’s some wild career weave there for Frampton, going from being a fine artist to a coder. It’s excellent stuff, and shows how mature ICT has become – it’s a creative industry now.
I didn’t however ask him any detailed questions about what it’s like being a little cog in the giant Apple machine, beyond general stuff like how he finds it and how lucrative it is (very, by the sounds of it).
Seeing what’s happening between Google and Oracle over Java in Android, I should've asked Frampton how he feels about having his work, past and present, and future fortunes so dependent on Apple's good will. Does he lie awake at night, sweating bullets and worrying over the terms and conditions associated with the tools he uses, iTunes and even the code he produces?
It may be time to pay attention the tools you create with, if you’re a coder in other words.
I’m sure you do already, right? Read all those hundreds of pages of arcane licensing terms that accompany SDKs and IDEs, show them to your pricey IP lawyer and work out a strategy in the event something goes wrong.
Then again, if you did that… would your project actually get off the ground? Would you have the money to pay the lawyers right from the outset?
Let’s say you’re lucky enough to be in Frampton’s position and have built up your business over the years through hard work and talent.
Then the patent or intellectual property rug gets pulled from underneath you; what do you do then? Pay the lawyers to fight a Huge Corporation with more money than $DEITY or start over again, taking another gamble on some other platform maybe? Or go back to painting?
Of course, it’s more than just the coding tools that are at stake when intellectual property lawyers do battle over software. It involves entire platforms with accompanying business models and markets.
You could argue that the above risk is the price you pay for not having to create everything yourself, such as tools and market concepts. That’s certainly one way of looking at it, but then again, the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Oracle benefit even more from developers flocking to them. There’s trust between the parties and violating that seems like a crazy idea.
I’d be keen to hear some rational explanation as to what Oracle’s hoping to gain from suing Google. The “stop Java fragmentation” argument seems a little flimsy, especially this late in the day. Cynics would say it’s just Oracle trying to scare some dollars out of Google, which has now spent many years and plenty of money to build a viable Android ecosystem but… surely, it can’t be that?
Going to something different, but kind of related, I should be going to various conferences and industry events in the US. Over the years, it's become harder and less attractive and even positively dangerous to travel to America however. No, not because of terrorists, but because of the US authorities. It's bad enough that I now have to have a visa introduced during the Cold War, but on top of that, everyone travelling to the US now faces mandatory groping and molestation by the TSA.
That's just too much. Could US tech companies please hold as many dos overseas as possible? Canada would be cool, or how about New Zealand? If you avoid Rugby League, delegates face very little risk of having their groins felt here - we're cool like that.
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ITCP, or Information Technology Certified Professional, is the professional accreditation of ICT professions in New Zealand