Surprises

by Carlo Longino


Filed Under:
developers, development, iphone

Companies:
adobe, apple



Apple Reminds Everybody That It Controls The iPhone Ecosystem

from the from-the-do-you-have-permission-for-that?-dept. dept

Last week, when Apple announced version 4.0 of the iPhone OS, it also made a significant change to the license agreement for its iPhone developer program. One section of the agreement was changed to say that iPhone "Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine" -- a move that blocks developers from using cross-platform development tools and third-party development environments. So, for instance, if a developer already had an app written in .NET, they can no longer use something like Monotouch to port it to the iPhone. There has been a lot of speculation that this was just the latest step in the ongoing spat between Apple and Adobe, since the latter company will soon release a Flash-to-iPhone compiler, triggering a "go screw yourself Apple" from an Adobe employee.

But this move is actually bigger than that: it's Apple's attempt to lock developers in solely to the iPhone. Steve Jobs claims "intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform", and they do -- from Apple's perspective. By requiring developers to use Apple's tools and follow its rules, the hope is that developers will follow along blindly and develop first for the iPhone, since it's currently the best monetized channel to market for them, and then will develop for other platforms later, if at all. The issue for Apple, though, is that it's not competing in a vacuum. Everybody and their mother are opening app stores, with other major smartphone platforms like Android and BlackBerry building theirs into viable competitors for the Apple channel. And as the App Store continues to get flooded with apps and becomes more competitive (and it becomes more difficult for developers to earn a living there), its position at the top of the pile is far from assured. At that point, heavy restrictions on developers and the closed ecosystem becomes a real burden for the company, not a benefit.

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  1. identicon
    Mike, 13 Apr 2010 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Does MonoAppleLy Sound Strange

    I don't think you seem to understand why Microsoft was sued and convicted of being a monopoly.

    At the time of the Justice Department suit Microsoft controlled about 97% of the desktop computing market. How did they get there? By using tactics that made if difficult if not impossible for computer companies to offer another operating system on their products. For example, every CPU sold had to have a copy of Windows licensed for it. Even if that PC was not going to even have Windows installed on it. So if you were forced to pay for a copy of Windows on the PC you're selling, why would you pay for a license of another operating system? That would just increase the price of two computers with identical hardware and make the computer that ran Windows only artificially cheap.

    Tactics like these are what made a company with 97% market share a monopoly. Apple has roughly 30% of the smartphone market and there are at least 4 other major smartphone makers/mobile OS makers for the consumer to choose from. Where is the monopoly there?

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