“By allowing its platform to clear the way for an app that incites illegal behaviour, [does Apple] not worry about damaging its reputation and hurting the feelings of consumers?” said a bellicose commentary published on the app of People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece.
Apple’s current situation between a Communist dictatorship/market-that-the-stock-market-would-rather-it-found-its-future-growth-in and an increasingly concerned user base is entirely their own fault.
When the iPhone App Store first launched, downloadable and installable applications had been documented fact for several years, and even several generations of smartphones. What Steve Jobs - and there is significant evidence that as the last holdout when everyone else were foaming at the mouth to give developers permission and tools to make apps and games, it really was literally him - wrought upon the world was a form of developer platform that dressed up the closed market of an authoritarian state as a convenience and an enabler of security and trust.
I have discussed the flaws of the App Store at length, but looking at it from the prism of the current situation, an alternate universe emerges, where apps were possible to plainly and easily distribute, and Apple, among with other platforms, could have played the role it looks to define for itself as makers of tools for the misfits, rebels and square pegs in round holes. The alternate universe was the default, and Apple bent the arch of history towards the current situation.
Apple may not have created the first App Store in existence, but just as there was a before and after iPhone, there was a before and after App Store, and this model has now been picked up by most other platforms, making life easier not for the developer or customer, but for the platform runner, and certainly for illegitimate, repressive regimes like the one holding a sixth of the world’s population hostage.
Put a dent in the universe, indeed.