The Impending iPhone Store Disaster, by Daniel Eran Dilger
According to a predictable set of opinions, Apple is putting itself in a risky position that will lead to disaster by asserting its authority over the software for its mobile platform. As said, if Apple doesn’t turn its management ideas upside down, all the creative energy will leave Apple and go to other mobile platforms. They are wrong, and this is why:
Critics argue that Apple’s rejections are arbitrary. They also say that Apple should not be choosing what software users are or are not entitled to access, and that the company should let the market decide. The third argument against it is that it is unfair that Apple is removing titles that compete with its programs. They all say the same thing, so here are the facts they haven’t taken into account as to why Apple is acting this way.
Developers, developers, developers
Before we talk about these “three ideas,” let’s take a look at Apple’s philosophy for third-party app development compared to the biggest platform on earth: Microsoft’s Windows monopoly. Ostensibly, Microsoft attracts developers to its platform and makes them happy. This is why Steve Ballmer danced like a monkey on stage to the tune of “developers, developers, developers”.
Ballmer may believe it, but the story tells a very different story. Developers certainly helped get the DOS operating system off the ground, but the first breakthrough application in the early home computing era was VisiCorp’s Visicalc for the Apple II. That software did so much to improve Apple’s sales that the industry took notice. Obviously, the sale of third-party software was going to be critical to the sale of hardware.
Meanwhile, Visical was only important on the Apple II until IBM cast its long industry shadow with its computer in 1981. Apple’s critical application was overshadowed by Lotus 1-2-3 for the PC, not because Microsoft or IBM were attracting better developers than Apple, but because the same developers were attracted to the PC as a more viable platform and one that allowed them to earn a lot of money with little risk.
Once Lotus started making money selling software to computer users, competition on the PC platform quickly disappeared. Home computers from alternative companies filled specific market niches or simply disappeared. Meanwhile, Apple tried to build a platform by attracting users with sophisticated technology, while IBM, Microsoft and clone PC manufacturers sold third-party technology with third-party software at low prices.
Macintosh vs. PC
The first stab at Apple in its attempt to establish a broad platform was the Lisa, which began shipping just as Lotus 1-2-3 was beginning to take off on the PC. Lisa was too expensive for the average audience, but Apple knew it. Lisa’s goal was to be the first to market with a new graphics technology. The Macintosh Project was intended to make the technology economically viable.
When the Macintosh shipped the following year, it put a bunch of new limits on developers. They had to follow Apple’s interface guidelines or their software wouldn’t sell. They also had to learn a new way of programming by making calls to Apple libraries. In exchange for this, Apple offered them a programming framework in which many common tasks did not need to be programmed by the developer, since they were already created by Apple.
Steve Jobs’ team worked to make the new computer as cheap as possible and with a lot of technology inside. His main competitor was CEO John Sculley, who wanted to put a $500 (about $1,000 today) tax on the price of the computer to finance the advertising campaign. This price hike at the last minute negatively impacted the image of the computer, leading potential developers to question whether Apple was an economically viable platform.
The iPhone money machine
With the iPhone, Apple built a superior platform designed to attract attention using sophisticated technology. It didn’t even open the doors to third-party developers until a year after publication, when there was already high demand from iPhone users, an understanding of what the iPhone was, and a well-oiled machinery for accepting micropayments.
The first thirty days generated $30 million in software development funds from iPhone users. In just a few months, Apple’s technology and the potential for developers to make a profit with little risk had left legacy mobile platforms, including Palm and Windows Mobile, gasping for breath.
Developer contributions to Apple’s software market brought new users to the iPhone, which in turn provided more funding for development. The iPhone was Jobs’ original vision with the Macintosh and what his team tried to bring about with NeXT. This time, Jobs has enough market power to deliver the platform he had envisioned, and keep it going until it has reached a critical mass of development.
Apple’s efforts weren’t easy, but they were made easier by the fact that all of its competitors were following Microsoft’s conservative strategy of selling third-tier technology at low prices. Symbian is a creaky 90s OS for Palms. RIM sells an old operating system for Pagers from the 90s. Microsoft sells a bad copy of the Palm and the Newton. The roots of the iPhone can be traced back to the 1980s with NeXT, but in reality its value comes from new technologies, including an animated interface at its core and a new guide to mobile interaction with users.
Why do some platforms expire?
If you’ve noticed, you’ll have noticed that Microsoft didn’t make its fortune by lending a hand to developers, but rather by gaining market power in the IBM DOS lottery and using that influence to destroy its developers to sell the software instead. Not to mention the history of Microsoft using Windows to destroy utility developers like Stacker and antivirus vendors, browser developers like Netscape, media players like QuickTime, or similar attacks on other market segments that Microsoft wanted to capture.
You may also have noticed that Apple didn’t win when it begged developers to support the Mac, or asked developers to support Mac OS X, or offered open source alternatives like mkLinux or Darwin, but only when it offered a platform on which that developers were motivated by profit.
Note also the total lack of openness or freedom of market equality in the success of any computing platform. Now notice that all the success stories in business, whether following Microsoft’s strategy of selling third-rate technology cheaply or Apple’s strategy of attracting attention by offering sophisticated technology, success comes with customers, not with customers. support to external partners.
Apple has not exiled apps for arbitrary reasons. Some critics have refused to accept the merits of Apple’s decisions, but in all the cases where they have been made public, they have been quite clear. Apple is managing the user experience on iPhone to avoid being targeted by lawsuits or boycotts, to preserve simplicity and ease of use, and to safeguard users and the viability of the platform.
Some have tried to make every decision a dramatic case filled with public opinion, but Apple operates the App Store, not public opinion. A platform is not a democracy. End users may complain that the car designs are bad, or that the food in a chain restaurant is too boring, but in the end the decisions are made by those who run the company.
The market decides
The problem is that Apple also has unlimited liability in the minds of lawyers. Apart from this, Apple’s share of the profits is not enough to justify dealing with complaints or boycotts, demands for refunds, or even the difficulty of quantifying the impact that having titles will have on the iPhone brand. poor quality or tasteless. Apple also refuses to sell stupid products in its physical stores, just like any company.
The market does a good job of deciding where capital should go, rewarding success and punishing failure through trading, but it is no substitute for good editorial control.
For Apple to maintain its platform, it needs to maintain its image. Apple not only has the right to protect its image, but also the obligation to do so, and this must be done through editorial control over the applications that represent it to users. If anything is to be said, Apple hasn’t done enough to remove useless apps.
This is a problem for developers who want to sell **** jokes and ****, but they don’t care about Apple’s platform, so Apple can’t be interested in them.
NetShare exposed Apple to lawsuits for allowing users to violate its service contract with AT&T. Apple is negotiating with AT&T to find a way to provide shared internet service, but it simply cannot sell an app that is expressly designed TO violate licensing agreements without incurring Napster-like charges.
Podcaster competes against Apple’s podcast business, while MailWrangler offers an alternative Mail service. In both cases, Apple thinks the user confusion it would cause problems for the platform, so it banned both.
Apple has effectively limited the competition for Mail, Contacts, iCal, Safari or Finder by making these apps good enough that no one is tempted to pay for a replacement, apart from very special cases. Wouldn’t it be better for Mac users if there were lots of companies selling competing Mail apps, because too much effort would be spent on duplicates.
On the iPhone, things are even smaller, apps generally cost less than $10, so the hurdle in creating an app that could duplicate Apple’s efforts without adding substantial value would only cause confusion and not be worth promoting.
I have no doubt that Apple will ban some app in the future for reasons I don’t agree with, but one can expect one app out of thousands to slip away in a business environment. When this happens, the developer involved will benefit more from trying to work out a solution with Apple than from speaking ill of it in public.
Source: Roughly Drafted