Apple’s iPhone Push Notification: Will small developers be able to afford it?

“Push was the big buzz this past March. That’s when Apple finally announced its long awaited push notification support for the iPhone. Push notifications allow third parties to send instant updates to users, even when applications aren’t running. CPU-intensive and possibly battery-consuming operations are run on Web-based servers rather than on the unit itself. For all that consumers might win from this approach, moving those operations off phones may create a huge financial burden for small developers,” Erica Sadun writes for Ars Technica.

“According to Apple, battery life is the single biggest reason for endorsing push notification. It lets Apple’s iPhone developer agreement disallow background processes. Background processes, in this case, refers to letting more than one third-party application run its code at once. Apple states that this comes at the cost of running down the battery. Some disagree, however, saying that properly designed programs with sleeping processes remain dormant until woken, consuming no CPU resources, hence no battery drain,” Sadun writes.

“Because of its fears about battery consumption, Apple has a strict ‘one application may run at a time’ policy. Instead, push sends computing off-device. Performing work externally spares local CPU cycles and lets these external services produce asynchronous alerts without letting more than one third party program run at a time,” Sadun writes.

“The problem with push, at least from a developer point of view, is scaling… Whether you have 10,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,000 users matters. That’s because developers must provide a service layer that handles the operations for every unit sold. The more users supported, the greater the costs will be. Consider that these services need to be completely reliable and that consumers will not be tolerant of extended downtimes,” Sadun writes.

“Push notifications are serious business. It’s likely that most small- and medium-sized development houses may completely opt out of being push providers,” Sadun writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: All of Apple’s effort regarding – and commitment to – Push Notification signals to us that the company that bought PA Semi believes that truly powerful and efficient mobile processors for smallish handheld devices are a long way off.

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