As consultants and developers for hire we often don’t get to put our name in a product we work on. Sometimes we are not even allowed to reference the client or even mention that we were even part of the development effort. That’s part of the job description, and I’m ok with that.
What’s not ok is when people try to take credit for work they didn’t do.
Recently I’ve been contacted by several companies trying to sell their iPhone development services to me. I’m not interested in outsourcing the core of my business to another company, but I sometimes play along just to hear their pitch. One of the first things I ask for is references. What apps, available on the App Store, have you developed?
Here’s how the conversation went with the Business Development Manager at a company called Mindfire Solutions:
- In the document with references that Alex Sharma sent me, you list an app called Curious George. Can you tell me what your company’s role was on this project?
- Full lifecycle development.
- Very interesting. What would you say if I told you that a colleague of mine developed this app?
- That is very strange because we developed that app.
- I’m looking at the source code for the app on my computer screen right now and I see my colleague’s name in the headers, but not yours.
- Uhmm. Please hold a minute, let me talk to my project manager. [Typing furiously, presumably in an IM window.] Actually, we just did some image work for that app.
- So not really any full lifecycle development?
- No. And actually we’re not really allowed to reference this client. Please do not talk to them about this. Is it ok if we sign an NDA now?
- Let me get this straight: You claim to have developed apps that you didn’t, you provide client references that are not really references, and you share client confidential information when soliciting new business. Did I miss anything?
- Good bye.
As a developer I get really upset when people claim that they have written code that they clearly had nothing to do with. But I’m not a spiteful person so I was going to let this go. That was until Mindfire Solutions called us a second time! This time it was a colleague of mine that took the call, and they launched into a similar sales pitch. This is how you end up on the iPhone Developer Wall of Shame.
The next story comes courtesy of Rupen Makhecha at Aston Designs. He claims his 11 programmers are “are sort of expert in IPhone”. When asked for references he sent over a list of iPhone apps that included Twitterific.
- Twitterific? Really?!
- No reply.
Repeated attempts to clarify their role in the development of Twitterific were met with silence. I assume that they realized that their bluff had been called and they were busy working their next lead — one that hopefully would not question their references.
How do these companies think they can get away with such blatant lies? My guess is that they don’t realize how small and tight the iPhone development community in the U.S. is. I’m probably not more than two or three degrees of separation away from any professional iPhone developer based in this country. So if I don’t directly know the developer of an app, chances are that I know somebody who does. Within a great community like this, it’s very easy to verify who actually developed an app.
I know I’m not alone in getting these solicitations. Please share your stories in the comments.
- Developers stealing from developers: an App Store tale
- iPhone Appmakers Caught Taking Credit For Apps They Didn’t Build
- Some iPhone Coders Padding Resumés With Lies