The iPhone and Open Platforms
January 12, 2007 2 Comments
When I first saw the presentation on the iPhone, I have to admit I was impressed. Even though it was 6 months away, it just looked so nice. A huge screen, a real OS on it, that Apple polish – my only real concern was how I would like typing an email on a touch screen, as opposed to the keyboard on my Treo. The more details that come out about the device, however, the more I am underwhelmed. By far the biggest disappointment has to be that third party apps won't be allowed. From the article:
The Mac’s stumble was in part because of pricing and in part because Mr. Jobs had intentionally restricted its expandability. Despite his assertion that a slow data connection would be sufficient, the gamble failed when Apple’s business stalled and Mr. Jobs was forced out of the company by the chief executive he had brought in, John Sculley.
In a similar fashion, Mr. Jobs is gambling that people will pay a premium ($499 or $599) for the iPhone and appears to have sought to limit its expandability.
The device is not currently compatible with the faster 3G wireless data networks that are driving sharp gains in cellular revenues in the United States, although several Apple insiders said the phone could be upgraded to 3G with software if Apple later decides to do so.
Moreover, Mr. Jobs also appears to be restricting the potential for third-party software developers to write applications for the new handset — from ringtones to word processors.
To be sure, this strategy has not limited the success of the iPod, which has become the defining hand-held consumer appliance and fashion statement in the last half-decade. The world of digital cellular phones, however, is rapidly becoming a simple extension of the world of personal computing. The leading handset makers — Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Research in Motion, Samsung and Sony Ericsson — are all pushing in the direction of making their devices increasingly look like PCs you can put in your pocket.
Mr. Jobs is moving in that direction, too, but it appears that he wants to control his device much more closely than his competitors.
“We define everything that is on the phone,” he said. “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.”
You think he would have learned his lesson after what happened with the Mac the first time. His assertion that “You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up.” is almost amusing. The major strength of the Treo is that a huge variety of third party apps run on it. Yes, some of them definitely hurt its stability, but you learn to stay away from those. I flat out would not use a Treo without the addition, non-Palm, apps. It's that cut and dry (at least for me). In this day and age, a smartphone needs to be an open platform with open interfaces. It's the direction everyone (including Palm, RIM, Microsoft, Motorola and Nokia) are going. This phone could have been so much. While I doubt it will be an all out failure, if they stick to their guns on this issue, I don't think the phone will ever reach its full potential. We'll have to see how this plays out, but I'm clearly not alone in my general thinking.
Apple, iPhone, Cingular