I’m here to say to Apple that while I understand very well the reasons for the company’s walled-garden approach to native iPhone OS apps, the strengths of that approach have now been surpassed by the bad publicity and reputation that Apple and its products are now getting in the market as a whole.
Perceptions, once set, are hard to change. There are lots of straw men in the comments. Do people really think that the App Store is curating away the junk? Or that the OS itself doesn’t enforce a sandbox? It’s also strange to see so many suggestions that “the people have spoken” because Apple is selling lots of devices. The market also preferred Windows over Mac. One can succeed in business doing lots of things wrong if one gets a few key things right. Mistakes have a way of catching up to you eventually, though. I think Snell is right to look for leading indicators.
Jobs first notes that Apple, by supporting HTML5, supports a completely open platform.
Ah, yes, they still offer developers the sweet solution.
At the iPhone OS 4.0 launch event, Steve Jobs had every opportunity to bat down the other major competitive claim Android has over the iPhone OS: the fact that third-party iPhone app development isn’t “open.” Instead, Jobs went on a rant about porn being available on Android and not on the iPhone.
I can’t tell you how disappointing that moment was for me. Perhaps Jobs believes what he said, but it’s a ridiculous claim. Setting aside the issue that people should really make decisions for themselves about what they want to do with their devices, and that the iPhone OS has parental controls that could be used to block adult content from appearing on kids’ devices, Jobs’ statement was also completely counterfactual.
He also wasn’t candid about the secret reasons that Apple rejects apps, insinuating that developers don’t follow the rules and lie about it. Much of the controversy over the App Store is due to Apple not sticking with the rules that it laid down. The developer agreement doesn’t forbid having a better mail app, better voice mail, or a better photo frame, and yet Apple found reasons to block them. It’s unfortunate that Mossberg and Swisher let Jobs spin so much. Why have a live interview if you won’t follow up to make sure that your questions are answered? I get that they want him to attend D9, but the value of a rare exclusive interview is lessened when the subject just repeats what’s already been said elsewhere. The truck analogy was clever, though.
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