Is that a bad word? I don’t care. It fully embodies the way that I’ve felt when it comes to a certain music supply store (I’m too nice to name names). About a year ago, a decision was made to better myself and learn iOS programming. I went in 120%. In about 3 months I had created over 10 apps, although I only published 4 of them. One of my more proficient apps was for said music supply store. There was no app on the market for their used inventory collection (and I think now I know why). I had the golden ticket. An idea. An App that didn’t exist. An app that thousands of musicians would use daily. Here was the idea:
- The app would pull from an RSS feed of available used inventory from the site
- this RSS feed is (was) PUBLICLY available for anyone to consume
- The app presented a categorized list of used items from the feed
- Users could search the inventory on any word or partial word
- example: searching ‘g’ would return ‘Gretsch’ and ‘Gibson’ (and others)
- Tapping an item on the list would show the pictures and description of the item
- To buy anything, the app would take you to the store’s website and let you purchase
- There was no kickback from the store for buying through the app
- Users bought directly from the store itself (just like buying online)
- There were ads on the app, and a paid ($0.99) ad free version
In my mind, I was doing them a service. I was making their inventory available worldwide and driving more people to their website to buy their inventory. I guess this was a mistake on my part. Perhaps I should have done some more research. Their RSS feed was available for me to use, and very published on their own page. I didn’t hack into the servers to find an RSS feed to rip off. It was literally on the front page of their website. Maybe this was wrong of me, but there are only certain reasons to publish an RSS feed. One of those is to be consumed by an RSS reader, which is practically what my app was.
A few months after going live, the app had a good handful of downloads. The downloads were growing exponentially. I even made a couple of bucks off of the ads. Enough to buy a coffee… maybe half a coffee. I was ecstatic. I had some feedback, I made some upgrades and some changes at user requests and things were going swimmingly.
One day I received an email from an attorney from said music supply store. A cease and desist. My stomach bottomed out. There were no financial repercussions, unless I didn’t cease.. nor desist. I kindly responded, explained my application, explained how I was using their published RSS feed, and how I was driving traffic to their site. No go. I had to remove all traces of my application.
Call it childish, but I was angry. I’ve moved on, after ranting how I would never shop there again and swearing to contact someone to share my piece of mind. I never contacted anyone, but I haven’t shopped there since. Not saying I never will, it’s just still fresh on my mind. The worst part comes from not being able to send notifications from the App Store to my users. The only thing I could do was abandon everything. That’s terrible PR for a single developer. Honestly, I haven’t really done much iOS programming since then. I know giving up isn’t the answer, but sometimes relationships need space. I guess this was my forced break, but not break up. If I can say one good thing that has come from this experience, it’s that the company has since removed the public RSS feeds from existence. The URL no longer works and they are no where to be found on the public facing website. Good on you big chain music supply store. Good on you.