GetJar To Apple: We’re Not Going To Take It!
As some of you may have seen in today’s Wall Street Journal, an article appeared entitled “Apple Lawyers to GetJar: Drop App Store”. In this article, the journalist highlights the fact that we’ve received a Cease & Desist (C&D) notice from Apple for our use of the term “app store.” We’ve issued a statement to the press full of legalese and formalities explaining what’s happened here and our position. This blog post reflects what we think is really happening and our position.
First, this isn’t really about Apple vs. GetJar. It would be presumptuous of us to think so given the difference in size and scale that’s apparent between the two companies. Better yet, we don’t even compete with Apple. Nobody can on iOS as they’re a closed ecosystem. We merely re-direct Apple users to Apple’s App Store as a courtesy. We do this for free with nothing in return. We don’t even get much Apple traffic and our Android traffic is hundreds of times larger and strategically far more important. Why do we even do it? Because as the largest FREE app store that serves consumers on over 2,500 devices in 190 countries we don’t discriminate against Apple users although Apple apparently chooses to discriminate against us.
The truth is that we’re both really surprised and also very disappointed with Apple’s C&D notice. First, let’s look at the facts:
- GetJar was started by developers for developers in 2004 as a beta testing platform. We started formally distributing free apps in early 2005 and are among the pioneers of the modern direct-to-consumer (D2C) app store distribution space when the iPhone was just an R&D project in Steve Job’s head. So it’s not as if we were waiting around for Apple to come up with the idea of app stores and decided in 2011: “Apps will be big, let’s scribble together a business plan and raise some VC money!”
- It’s questionable whether Apple even owns the term “App Store” to begin with. If you look at the case being battled out between Apple and other 3rd parties and really do some homework you’ll see that:
- They filed to register App Store in 2008 with the USPTO and were denied the mark.
- Since Apple has a tough time with the word “NO” they filed again and were given a “provisional” registration under the condition that they could TM App Store if nobody opposed the registration. Well it just so happens that Microsoft among others did oppose it.
- So for Apple to be going around threatening or suing others on the basis of a tenuous “ownership” claim of a generic name that isn’t 100% theirs is seriously “taking-the-piss” as the English would say and we would probably use more colorful language here in the US.
- GetJar has been using the term “App Store” in press releases and in it’s positioning with consumers, trade, analysts and press since early 2009 and it’s only now that Apple has decided to send us a C&D. That said, GetJar does not use the term in it’s brand/slogan or strapline.
Those facts are hard to dispute. It puzzles us that Apple’s C&D notice comes on the back of a major PR and marketing campaign initiated by GetJar as we helped bring one of iOS’s most popular games, Cut The Rope, to Android. As their exclusive distribution launch partner, we help bring a game that had just won the Apple Design Award to Android consumers the world over. At the same time, we shifted our company positioning from Appsolutely Everything to Appsolutely FREE, since GetJar has been and always will be about FREE apps. Is this timing purely coincidental? Or does Apple care more about the fact that we’re trying to give apps away for free to consumers? You be the judge.
Second, let’s look at where the industry is heading. The truth is really alarming. The ecosystem as a whole is becoming increasingly closed. It’s character is dictated by larger companies exercising excessive force to get bigger shares of the pie. For example, Android was supposed to be FREE and open; yet developers can’t choose their billing solution. They have their price points micro-managed for them without input. If Apple isn’t suing Amazon, it’s suing start-ups. Now Microsoft, who is struggling to gain traction with Windows Mobile, is charging OEM’s for using Android using our country’s broken patent system. Where are all of these law suits and threats getting us? Is anyone actually worrying about whether app developers and content providers make enough money to keep the lights on?
In conclusion, GetJar won’t be subject to this kind of bullying. We’re not going to “Cease & Desist”. We were here long before Steve & Co. We were built by developers, to help developers. Not to help sell handsets or search results. In the words of Twisted Sister: We’re not going to take it! Steve Jobs isn’t our Dad.
We have always been an advocate for developers. We’ve shared our manifesto on pricing. As a matter of fact, we’re hereby starting a Facebook Cause called The Open And Free App Movement (#OFAM) to encourage every pissed off developer, start-up, carrier, OEM or NGO who is fed up with this crap to make their voice heard. So if you give a damn and want to help please:
- Friend the movement on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Open-Free-App-Movement-OFAM/186596041395518
- Follow us on twitter: Twitter.com/OpenAndFreeApps
- Tweet the hashtag #OFAM to get others to sign up.
- Share your experiences, suggestions and ideas on what we need to do to keep the ecosystem OPEN and to fight this kind of abuse.
Keep Apps FREE and OPEN!
Patrick (Mad) Mork (CMO)
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