The reason why Apple products are so slick and cool is two fold, the first is that they are a great consumer product/design company hands down. But the second is an equally important reason, a reason that will potentially prevent them from massive long term market share (like Windows, Oracle, etc.) The second reason why Apple products look and work so nicely is that they have a tight control over the software installed on their devices. For example if you are a software developer and want to build an application for the iPhone or the Mac, you need to follow the strict Apple design guidelines and then get approval from Apple before you can sell (or give away) your software.
This is great, it gives the vendor (Apple) near complete control over what gets installed by the user base and the vendor (Apple) can control the user experience. This of course has some great benefits: less virus attacks, less crashes (windows is usually unstable due to people like me: software developers) and less hacks. You can also guarantee that there is no porn or politically sensitive content on your device.
This also has a negative side effect. Pissed off developers. Tech blog TechCrunch reports that many software developers are getting angry with Apple due to the rejection of their apps, random removal of their apps, or rejection of an upgrade of their original app from the Apple AppStore. This will only anger more and more devs and over time, will limit the developer community on that platform. As we all know, with the apps, there will be no platform.
I am not saying that this is happening (developers leaving in droves) now, but it can happen. A recent decision to pull an app may have started the revolution. Apple last week pulled the Google Voice application from its AppStoe. Google Voice is pretty cool and allows you to use VOIP to make and receive calls (among over cool stuff.) So free phone calls means less minutes AT&T (and other international carriers) can sell.
This caused a bit of an uproar in the tech world. Some major influencers including prominent Apple supporters decided to quit using the iPhone over the decision to remove Google Voice. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt has decided to step down from Apple’s board due to the conflict of interest. Lastly, the US government has gotten interested, last week, the FCC launched an investigation about the removal of Google Voice.
Apple (and AT&T) should allow any application to be installed on the iPhone as well as any other phone for that matter. On the regular wired internet, I can buy a PC and then download and install anything I want, my ISP does not control what computer I can buy and what I can see and what I can’t see. Why is it different for phones? I can’t install everything I want, nor can I even buy whatever phone that I want, I have to buy the phone from the carrier in a “locked” mode.
There is a reason: the United States is large country by land mass. The government has let the carriers have some control due to them promising to wire the whole country-this is why you can get signal in remote places where there is not a lot of demand. But now years later we are paying the price. It is time to open up the airwaves and allow us to buy any phone and install any application. The Apple AppStore is a walled garden that eventually will fail. While Apple risks losing a few design points and some system crashes and AT&T will lose some revenue, over the long run, if they allow anyone to develop software and anyone to install it, we all will be better off.