Video excerpts of last night’s D8 interview with Steve Jobs have been trickling out at a steady pace. (An unofficial transcript from John Paczkowski is here.) A number of the excerpts are worth watching, including this exchange on how the latest SDK terms and conditions affect analytics packages. In the video, Jobs expresses his displeasure with analytics packages that transmit usage information without the user’s permission—especially when the transmitted information identifies unreleased Apple products and prototypes.
The conversation immediately reminded me of this cheesy sales pitch last summer from Pinch Media boasting about discovery of a not-yet-released iPod touch through their analytics reporting. This sort of thing never goes over very well in Cupertino. Tonight’s interview seems to confirm that the new restrictions on analytics are as much about Apple’s privacy as ours.
Ironically (or not), Pinch last December merged with Flurry, the company that Jobs explicitly names in the D8 interview.
I agree with the audience member who asked the question: analytics are invaluable to developers who care about the user experience of their applications. They can find out how often a given feature is used (or cancelled, or given up on) and use that information to improve the area in question. They can de-emphasize features that are less popular, and make the more popular tasks easier to get to. It’s a wealth of information that traditional surveys or feedback mechanisms will never match. The challenge, as Jobs notes, is ensuring these packages don’t cross the line of transmitting sensitive information about the user or their device. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find that common ground.