I still get occasional comments on this article I wrote 10 years ago. Ten years!
I just got an email this morning.
The email had no context. Just a short two sentences on why the sender hates Apple – he’s an Android user and was using Dark Sky until Apple bought it this week and shut off API access, including Android.
I replied by asking him why he was sending the email to me. But I was still waking up when I sent that reply, because truly I already knew. That article.
I just reread it. It’s a pretty good article. If I were writing it today, I’d spend time discussing Apple’s monopolistic practices. Or quasi-monopolistic – they don’t own the market, but they control a big chunk of it.
It’s the same all over the economy; a few big companies control each industry. They compete against each other but mainly they’re concerned with stifling new competition.
I’m still nearly exclusively an Apple user but I have fewer illusions today. When you do business in the current economy, you compromise your principles.
It is a funny ethical trade off. By buying Dark Sky Apple might really bolster its own weather services (maybe we’ll actually get its hyperlocal features in Canada!), and thereby benefit millions of users.
But it’s a kind of ethical thermodynamics—for every Apple shareholder user that benefits, an Android user loses out.
Tile has recently gotten louder about Apple’s “anticompetitive” practices, too:
Yup, the word “anticompetitive” exactly applies to what Apple is doing with Dark Sky and Android.
The Tile situation is odd in that Apple does not have a product that competes with Tile.
The “continue to use my location” nag screens are annoying. On a couple of occasions since I upgraded to iOS 13, months ago, I have accidentally tapped the screen on my phone before I had a chance to read it. “Gee, hope I didn’t deny location access to something important,” I say to myself.
It’s ironic, for me personally, that Dark Sky is causing this fuss because I find the service’s much-hyped realtime alerts to be rubbish. I have no doubt they’re great in other parts of the US and world, but for me here in San Diego they’re useless.
Was it anticompetitive to buy Logic in 2002 and drop Windows support? I don’t think so. To call it anticompetitive is I think a tortured use of the term. Devs have whined about Apple being ‘anticompetitive’ because its privacy features in iOS 13 were going to hurt them. (Cue the violins.) And this purchase seems to dovetail with that, given that most (all?) free weather apps monetize user location data to sell to retailers.
In fact, since the majority of users of weather apps is non-Apple it actually emboldens the larger group of developers in the Windows/Android/Linux space to that bigger market, which could then be leveraged by offering Apple support if they chose. There are 100+ weather apps out there, and alternate (though perhaps inferior - let competition reign!) APIs. The Dark Sky API will continue to be made available to licensees until the end of 2021, by which time one expects even more… competition… to have emerged.
Why? Dark Sky is a data aggregator – data from NOAA, EUMETNET, etc. They also have a proprietary hyperlocal forecasting algorithm that uses some of that data. Nothing prevents anyone else from doing exactly the same thing. I don’t see how any part of Apple’s actions are anti-competitive. Nor is it the case that Android users have no access to weather data as a result of the acquisition.
So, it might be annoying, or inconvenient, but Apple has not harmed Android users.
Actually, here in East County San Diego in August through October we can get temperatures into the 100s.
And it’s been raining a lot the last month or two. Neither Dark Sky nor any other application I can find will tell me whether to expect rain in, say, the next two hours on days when rain is likely sometime during the day.
My home office has a standing desk that overlooks the backyard. I can stand here and get an alert that says “rain starting” and see, nope, no rain. Conversely, I’ll look at the window and see it’s raining, but no alert.