Monday, April 12, 2010

Apple’s Wager

John Siracusa:

Cumulatively, these actions represent a huge bet placed by Apple. The proposition is this: Apple is betting it can grow its platform fast enough, using any means necessary, that developers will stick around despite all the hardships and shoddy treatment. Each time it chooses to do what it thinks is best for the future of the iPhone OS platform instead of what will please developers, Apple is pushing more chips into the pot.


The win scenario is big: Apple as the dominant player in the most important new technology market. Microsoft-level dominance. But the flip-side is terrible—though I can see how it may have snuck up on Apple.

Unsurprisingly, the incentives for Apple and developers are not fully aligned. Larger developers will write for all the major platforms, regardless. For smaller developers, it matters little whether Apple achieves Microsoft-level dominance. They can be successful without a home run. Provided Apple continues to make a good product, the iPhone is likely to always have more marketshare than the Mac has enjoyed over the past 25 years. On the other hand, smaller developers could be in big trouble if they get banned from the App Store, or stuck in limbo. They’d probably be happy to trade some potential iPhone OS marketshare in return for certainty that if they follow the rules and spend the time and money to develop a product, Apple will let them sell it.

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