Have an account? Log in to leave your comments!
Everyone wins with an open iPhone
I’m sure most of you have been following the drama regarding third-party applications on the iPhone. I won’t rehash the details, since I figure if you’re reading this site right now you know that the iPhone Update 1.1.1 breaks most of these unsupported third-party applications. Some applications are silly, others fill holes in the iPhone’ software package. The bottom line, however, is that Apple is seriously blowing a huge opportunity by not supporting third-party iPhone development.
It’s about innovation
Every year at WWDC, Apple recognizes developers who push Mac OS X to its limit and produce innovative, well-crafted applications. They call it the Apple Design Awards, and the list of winners from over the years is a veritable who’s-who of Mac developers. Without innovative third-party development, the Mac would not be what it is today--a vibrant platform with many intriguing, powerful, and innovative applications that make using a Mac downright fun.
Imagine what it would be like if theinnovators of the Mac world were able to bring their ideas and innovation to the iPhone/iPod touch platform as well. Apple put together a very slick software package with the iPhone, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just Apple at the party. There isn’t as much motivation for Apple to push the envelope in the software front without a vibrant, fully-supported developer community. A strong developer community benefits everyone--the users, Apple, and the developers--by spurring innovation and further enhancements to an already stellar product.
It’s about filling holes
As nice as the iPhone may be, there are gaps in the software provided. Yes, the iPhone supports SMS, but it doesn’t include an IM client. It doesn’t include a voice recorder--my RAZR has voice-recording capabilities, for crying out loud! A fully-supported developer community means Apple doesn’t have to go it alone. Apple can focus on the core applications--much like they do with Mac OS X now--and allow third-party developers to fill in the gaps. Again, everyone wins.
It’s about giving users what they want
Look around any Mac forum and you will see that, by and large, users love their iPhones. You may also see that users want to extend the capabilities of their iPhones beyond what it can do out of the box. While web apps can do a good number of things, many users want native applications. Users want applications that take full advantage of what the iPhone has to offer. A community of developers has tried to deliver just that, but the latest iPhone update thwarted much of their efforts. But you know what? They will try again. They will try again because there are many users out there who want an iPhone that is open to third-party development. A company that listens to its users will be much better off. Yet again, everyone wins.
It’s about being open
There’s something about closed systems that seem to turn people off. Yes, you need a Mac to run Mac OS X, but anyone can download a copy of Xcode and churn out code. Yes, you need to use iTunes to transfer music on your iPod, but any MP3 file will work on an iPod. In both of these examples, the system is partially closed, but it is still open enough that users are happy.
In the case of the iPhone, the system is not open enough for many users. These users aren’t the type who are upset because Mac OS X won’t run on a self-built PC; many of these users who want fully-supported third-party iPhone applications are die-hard Mac users. These are the people who have stuck with Apple through good times and bad. These are the people who are perfectly fine with the limitations that exist with the Mac OS and the iPod. And if this groups is upset because they feel the iPhone is too closed, then something is definitely wrong.
In closing, I would like to quote Patrick Wilson of abandonshack.com, who had this to say:
Closed systems are an incubator for stale ideas and the antithesis of innovation, and that is what you are striving to develop.
People are hungry for a more open iPhone. Apple, it’s time to listen to your users.