Should Apple be more open?

It is almost religious orthodoxy in the tech community that “open” is better than “closed.” For example, there have widespread complaints about Apple’s “closed” iPhone app approval process. People also argue Apple is making the same strategic mistake all over again versus Android that it made versus Windows*. The belief is that Android will eventually beat the iPhone OS with an “open” strategy (hardware-agnostic, no app approval process) just as Windows beat Apple’s OS in the 90′s.

With respect to requiring apps to be approved, consider the current state of the iPhone platform. There are over 100,000 apps and thus far not a single virus, worm, spyware app etc. (I don’t count utterly farfetched theoretical scenarios). As a would-be iPhone developer, I can report firsthand that the Apple approval process is a nightmare and should be overhauled. But what’s the alternative? Before the iPhone, getting your app on a phone meant doing complicated and expensive business development deals with wireless carriers. At the other end of the spectrum: If the iPhone OS were completely open, would we really have better apps?  What apps are we missing today besides viruses?

With respect to the strategic issue of tightly integrating the iPhone/iPad software and hardware, a strong case can be made that Apple’s “closed” strategy is smart. Clay Christensen has given us the only serious theory I know of to predict when it’s optimal for a company to adopt an open versus closed strategy for (among other things) operating systems. The basic idea is that every new tech product starts out undershooting customer needs and then – because technology gets better faster than customers needs go up – eventually “overshoots” them. (PC’s have overshot today – most people don’t care if the processors get faster or Windows adds new features). Once a product overshoots, the basis of competition shifts from things like features and performance to things like price.

The key difference today between desktop computers and mobile devices is that mobile devices still have a long way to go before customers don’t want more speed, more features, better battery life, smaller size, etc. Just look at all the complaints yesterday about the iPad – that it lacks multitasking, a camera, is too heavy, has poor battery life, etc. This despite the fact that Apple is now even building their own semiconductors (!) to squeeze every last bit of performance out of the iPad. Until mobile devices compete mainly on price (probably a decade from now), tight vertical integration will produce the best device and is likely the best strategy.

*It’s worth noting that Steve Jobs wasn’t the one who screwed up Apple. Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976. He was pushed out in in May 1985 when the company was valued at about $2.2B. He returned in 1996 when Apple was worth $3B. Today it is worth $187B.

23 thoughts on “Should Apple be more open?

  1. Pingback: Trackback
  2. Pingback: Trackback
  3. Pingback: Trackback
  4. Hello I am so glad I found your website, I really found
    you by mistake, while I was looking on Bing for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like
    to say thanks for a fantastic post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and
    also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be
    back to read more, Please do keep up the excellent work.

  5. Most of the people begin playing the roulette game for
    fun, but as time passes by, they tend to get addicted to it.
    Some of them are on sea or naval warfare while
    others are on the air. Therefore, more independent businesses will also gain in on some
    of the action.

  6. Shift + Windows Key + Number (1 – 9) – Opens a new instance of the corresponding application pinned to the taskbar.

    Since this is a boot-time error message, it won’t allow
    you to access Windows OS and the data stored on the hard drive.
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current – Version\Software – Protection –

  7. After this time time, you can forget gmail password cracker password of the crucial Excel file googlemail
    password cracker it makes a demand VBA key recovery course of action. Thankfully, this
    tablet actually has some innovative new features that people
    will likely want to get their hands on, and it should sell extremely
    fast. When you first log onto your PC, dozens of programs and services — most of which you don’t need —
    start up automatically.

  8. “They are scum, they want to take over the world economies and control earth as we know it. The latest Kindle has extremely well spaced keys that makes typing a breeze. Your choice depends on the level of encryption needed for yourself (or to bypass) and your budget.

  9. Click on the flashing computer in the top right hand corner.
    The law firm of Mc – Phadden, Samac, and Tuovi are seeking damages of 1 billion US dollars on behalf
    of Play – Station 3 users. Run Firefox; Microsofts Internet
    Explorer is clunky and the most hacked software on the planet.

  10. Understanding both advantages and disadvantages are important in order to choose
    the best internet marketing strategy. A VPN creates an encrypted connection to a third-party server, and all your
    Internet traffic is routed through that server. For more information visit:
    security gives you the protection from all kinds of worms, viruses and other

  11. Hi there, yes this article is in fact nice and I have
    learned lot of things from it concerning blogging.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s