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Editorial: Which Planet of the Apps Are We On?

By Ariel Elkin

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If you haven’t heard that Apple is launching a TV show about app-making, then, I wonder… which planet you’re living on?

The trailer for the new show promises the following:

In every episode, app developers work to earn millions of dollars in venture capital investment. It begins with a pitch to four of the world’s most culturally influential entrepreneurs. […]. It all leads to a final pitch with one of the hottest venture capital firms on the planet.

The developer community’s reception, so far, has been negative. Rock Star Developer and maker of Instaper Marco Arment tweeted:

I’m sure Planet of the Apps will be a great show for all of those people who bug developers with their awful ideas.
But actual developers… Well, this likely has about as much relevance to reality as most “reality” shows.

Aside from the fact that judging a show purely by its trailer is, shall we say, unwordly, I say: Think different, content-creation is an avenue that Apple has much exploration to do in, and they have the resources required for it (visibility, money, domain knowledge, and talent). Consider this an experiment. Worst case scenario; mobile apps gain more visibility. Best case scenario? The perceived value of apps and your job becomes higher. You’d be automatically promoted from Rock Star to Rock Legend.

There is indeed a gap for TV shows that portray the daily life of app-makers. As a result, we’ve all encountered those myths about app-making: everyone is a millionaire, apps can be made in just 2 days, by a one-man-army, by someone with a 5-foot long beard and a punk rock t-shirt. Just as Dragons’ Den gave the public a glimpse into the life and tasks of entrepreneurs, or Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen told stories of what goes on inside restaurants’ kitchens, Planet of the Apps will show people a path to making apps. The reality show path to making apps.

Agreed, it’s not a typical path. So what? It’ll be interesting to hear the judges’ criteria for judging pitches and developers. It’ll be interesting to see how different contestants handle stress. It’ll be valuable to compare our tribulations to theirs. I’m betting that the producers will be clever enough to prevent making it look like what it definitely is not: a walk in the park. Pitches will be rejected. Contestants will be rejected. There will be a handful of winners and a pile of losers, and it won’t be fair. Just like in the App Store.

So don’t judge Planet of the Apps with the criteria you’d judge a WWDC session video. This is a reality show that intends to entertain you while showing you how apps can be made. And I’m looking forward to it!

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