Facebook’s Joe Hewitt Quits iPhone App Development Due to Frustration with Apple

Joe Hewitt, who came over to Facebook along with Blake Ross when Facebook acquired their company Parakey in 2007, has been the sole developer on Facebook’s iPhone efforts since the beginning. That’s for both the web-based version that came out in 2007 and the the native application that was launched last year. However, today, Hewitt tweeted that he has “handed the Facebook iPhone app off to another engineer, and I’m onto a new project.”

Why would Hewitt quit work on what has become the most widely used iPhone application ever, and the most popular mobile Facebook client? Issues with the way Apple is running its platform. As Hewitt told TechCrunch,

My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple’s policies. I respect their right to manage their platform however they want, however I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process. I am very concerned that they are setting a horrible precedent for other software platforms, and soon gatekeepers will start infesting the lives of every software developer.

The web is still unrestricted and free, and so I am returning to my roots as a web developer. In the long term, I would like to be able to say that I helped to make the web the best mobile platform available, rather than being part of the transition to a world where every developer must go through a middleman to get their software in the hands of users.”

It will be interesting to see how Hewitt’s transition affects Facebook iPhone app, if at all. 8.3 million people used Facebook for iPhone yesterday out of 17.3 million people in the last month, according to AppData.

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6 Responses to “Facebook’s Joe Hewitt Quits iPhone App Development Due to Frustration with Apple”

  1. Greg Dewar says:

    Laughable. He works for a platform that is so restrictive it makes Stalin’s sphincter laugh. And he complains about APPLE?

    Pure hilariousness. The closed, proprietary, always changing “system” that is the mush of Facebook being called out by someone developing for Apple.

    The irony is compounding itself bigtime. Fuck ‘em both.

  2. Mike Sherov says:

    Greg:

    The difference is that development on Facebook is open by default and gives developers a chance to correct and adapt. I’m as annoyed as the next about Facebook’s constantly changing platform, but they are no Apple in this regard.

    Sure, there rules have changed, and they are becoming more strict on enforcement, but there is no gatekeeper to Facebook development. You don’t have to wait on someone to approve you before anyone can see your product.

    Also, API’s are closed and proprietary almost by definition. That seems like hardly a legitimate complaint to me.

  3. Chad Estes says:

    Mike makes a great point about Facebook being an inherently open environment, but they have one major advantage which allows them to do this: Facebook is a website and all users are always on the latest version.

    Because the iPhone is a mobile operating environment, not all users are on the latest version and apps which do not go through a review process are likely to break and provide issues with other components of the operating system.

    Can you even image the tech support nightmare that would cause? Apple is doing all end users a favor by helping to ensure the stability of their platform.

  4. Adam Kochanowicz says:

    Jobs used to be the “revolutionary,” and is probably the reason why Apple got and expanded its niche.
    I wonder if Jobs ever thought his company could be characterized in such a way. After all, he was supposed to represent the guy who is against big brother.

  5. Will iPhone Get Windows’d by Android? | Bits And Buzz, by Jeremy Chone says:

    [...] 2009-11-11: Insidefacebook.com, Facebook’s Joe Hewitt Quits iPhone App Development Due to Frustration with Apple [...]

  6. cygnis media says:

    Joe Hewitt, who came over to Facebook along with Blake This work has always been a great source of inspiration for me. I refer you blog to many of my friends as well.

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