Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why did Apple open the iPhone to developers?

Did Apple always intend for the iPhone to be a development platform, or were they forced to change their mind?

A well regarded Piper Jaffray analyst thinks Apple was forced to change its mind ...

AppleInsider | Piper Jaffray addresses 15 more 'unanswered Apple questions' [Page 2]

What was the driver for the App Store on the iPhone for 3rd party applications?
The thriving iPhone hacking community adequately showed that there was significant demand for features the iPhone is capable of, but Apple is not offering. Games, instant messaging, and industry-specific applications are several examples of features that the iPhone does not currently offer in a native application setting. We believe Apple recognized that its user base was dissatisfied with the simplified Web 2.0 apps available on the iPhone's web browser; as a result, the company announced the availability of 3rd party applications in March along with the iPhone operating system 2.0, which is on track to arrive in late June.

I'd have phrased this differently. I'd have said that Apple realized that its initial closed plans were going to severely limit market growth, and expose the iPhone to a losing race with a future Google Android. Maybe Apple figured that even among its hard core base, there were people who weren't going to buy an eternally incomplete solution.

Heck, maybe Jobs read my August 2007 demands and, mistakenly assumed I represented a meaningful demographic.

The good news is that they made the SDK move, even if the application environment is oddly reminiscent of the PalmOS, and even though there's still no word of a synchronization API (an odd omission that few seem to have noticed).

Thanks to everyone who didn't buy the iPhone 1.0, especially those of my fellow geeks who complained bitterly and hacked away at iPhone 1.0.

I fully expect to buy iPhone 2.0 (after the official SDK release) -- even if I Apple withholds a synchronization solution. I wouldn't ever buy an iPhone had there not been an SDK, but I now believe that Apple's geek customers will eventually, with great effort and much gnashing of teeth, force a reluctant Apple to publish a synchronization API for the iPhone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you're both wrong. Jobs always planned on opening the iPhone to 3rd party developers. It was always part of his plan to expand Apple's cell phone market into the enterprise. You can't do that without opening the phone to 3rd party software. If you check his earliest statement, at the iPhone announcement, he said that security was a big issue and Apple needed time to solve that problem. Like all such answers it was not the whole story. Apple needed time to put in place the programming tools, the iTunes distribution along with "signed" software to enable remote disabling of mounted software discovered to be a security issue. It was the plan from the beginning.

Remember, Apple develops new technologies with smaller teams in secret in contrast to Microsoft's large scale efforts. The firm doesn't have the resources to do all things at once. The fact that OS X is the prime OS for multiple platforms successfully leverages their assets. Their programming tools are a big part of this as the 3rd party developers discover their use for desktop applications alongside the iPhone.