Regarding Recent Apple Outages

March 27, 2015

There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of ire in the indie community after the outages of iTunes and the App Store this week and earlier this month. I’d like to think it was because we all realize that Apple is like any other IT shop1 and is going to suffer occasional downtime – it’s just par for the course in IT – but it’s more likely because the outages were brief, and the suffering was minor.

These outages serve as a regular reminder that we have essentially outsourced the whole kit-and-kaboodle of our app e-commerce infrastructure to Apple. And that’s probably a Very Good Thing, because if we built and ran our own, it too would break occasionally, and we would be left to fix it ourselves. So the recent brief outages we’ve seen should not really come as a surprise, and frankly, I’m relieved that these inevitable problems are Apple’s to fix rather than mine.

We care about outages because they affect revenue. I discovered Wednesday’s outage when trying to purchase Fantasical 2 (recommended), but of course could not do so. Because that app is a must-have for me, I made it a point to go back and try again later, but if it had been a new app I’d just discovered and wanted to try, I probably would not have gone back, and that developer would have lost a purchase. So during extended outages, the losses can theoretically pile up.

The question we might want to consider is, how much App Store downtime can we tolerate? If our indie biz is a hobby, we can probably tolerate quite a lot. If we’re putting food on the table, not so much. Apple’s uptime track record is pretty good, but it’s still something worth thinking about.

  1. John Siracusa would probably argue even more so regarding Apple’s prowess with server infrastructure.

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