Any vendor in the platform business knows that their primary product is programming interfaces — the so-called APIs that developers depend upon in order to deliver applications. The API exposes features of the platform, and differentiate applications running on that platform from all others. Lose control of the API, and you will lose control of the developer. Developers are the leading indicator for platform success. Ergo, lose the developer, lose the platform.
Steve Jobs' protestations about quality aside, Apple's recent moves to bar developers from using any but Apple approved technologies to write iPhone applications is naked self interest… nothing new. For example:
Controlling APIs by tying them to the use of specific development tools is simply a bare-knuckled way of retaining control of the platform, which is critical to the health of the iPod/iPhone/iPad franchise. It's not about screwing Adobe or developers who use Flash. It's about not allowing Adobe and other cross platform vendors to screw Apple.
As Microsoft learned from their experience with Borland, Jobs and co need to be mindful that developers will naturally migrate to tools which offer advantages such as productivity improvements, cost savings, or user experience benefits. Prohibitions, unfortunately, will only work for Apple for a short time. Ultimately, they must choose to compete for the hearts and minds of developers. I expect that they already know that, however, and are planning one or both of:
Either would also be in their rational self interest.
Related topics: Mobile
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