With Apple’s recently announced changes to it’s License Agreement I really don’t see any surprise in it at all. My computing career started on an Apple II in high school but that was the extent of my exposure to Apple hardware and software until I won an iPod back in my Borland days. I followed with some interest what seemed to be the near death of Apple back in the Gil Amelio days and the curious flirtation with 3rd party hardware manufacturers which was subsequently crushed.
If anything Apple has always fiercely protected what makes it Apple. They’re an incredibly innovative company and while I’ve heard and read people talking about these recent changes being reminiscent of Mac vs. Windows I’d disagree. There are some significant differences this time around particularly when you consider Apple’s control over and influence on content producers, something that didn’t exist “back in the day”. This time around Apple arguably has the best device, and I’m a big Android fan but it’s plainly missing tons of polish that the iPhone has in spades.
With the recent release of the iPad and all the magazines and newspapers scrambling to leverage it to salvage their fading print business once again Apple is in the drivers seat. If you look at the landscape Apple has lots of things going for it right now on the content side. Take for example the fact the Droid has a non-existent music experience and that their online Market is rather laughable when compared to the AppStore. No matter how lame iTunes is we’ve all had it for years and got sucked into it well before the iPhone came out with an iPod or two (or three). Also, if you’ve watched Apple’s iPhone announcements over the years they’ve always highlighted gaming. There's been no shortage of games produced for the platform and I’d guess the vast majority of those wouldn’t really have issues when it comes to the recent license agreement changes (though that’s just a guess). Now with the advent of the iPad with all it’s hype we’re going to see an explosion of cool games that do all sorts of new things and the movie, magazine, book and newspaper reading experience will all now have to live up to Apple’s standard which is going to be very difficult to do. In other words I don’t think it’s going to slow the growth of the AppStore any time soon which gets right to my point…
Apple is going to, rightly, protect its business and the experience of using their devices is damn enjoyable and very fluid, far more so than on Android. It’s easy to understand they wouldn’t want a game, or any application, to play/function exactly the same on any other platform. It’s also easy to see after years of cultivating their “relationship” with the music industry there’s probably no company better positioned to negotiate rights to movies, magazines, newspapers or other multi-media content particularly now they have a larger screen device all those parties surely want to be on.
One way to look at this is that developers are getting screwed though I think that’s perhaps short sighted if your goal as a developer is for the platform that you’re targeting to succeed for years to come. Apple is working to protect their platform and with iAd, if anything, they’re looking to expand not only their revenue but their developer community’s as well. Makes sense.
When I step back and look at it, Apple’s been cultivating all kinds of relationships using their mobile devices with developer’s, non-Mac users, music enthusiasts, gamers and entire industries. They’ve created an experience, whether it’s in the Apple store or on the AppStore or on a mobile device that’s difficult to top and I’m hard pressed to think of another company in a similar position. At least Kliener Perkins seems to agree.
Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on the subject. What’s your take?