Tuesday, March 11, 2008

InformationWeek is batting 1.000 this week

Alexander Wolfe is busy getting kicked by the Macalope tonight, so I thought I'd take a cut at Mitch Wagner's vast factless void Will The SDK Be The iPhone's Achilles' Heel?

First of all, the condensed version of the reply: No.

Mitch says:

Apple is betting its future in the smartphone market on a control-freak business model. Where other smartphone platforms let anybody build applications for them, Apple demands to be the gatekeeper for what goes on the iPhone, to protect users from inappropriate and dangerous content, and to generate additional revenue for itself.
That control-freak business model is the "Apple" business model. Someone who knows something about the "Business value of technology" would know that. That someone would also know that it seems to be working out okay for them. Apparently that would be someone different from Mitch. I wonder if Mitch has seen Apple's market cap trend over the past 10 years.

Apple is only protecting me from code, not content. I can go to the internet and get anything I want. Apple doesn't give a big rat's ass about content.

And Apple is in business to make money. (Mitch actually got this point right, although he seems to think that making money is a bad thing)

A little further down, Mitch stumbles on:
In addition to a cut of the revenue, developers must pay Apple $99 up front to write apps for the iPhone...[at this point he quotes John Gruber saying it isn't a major problem]...But the $99 will also restrict diversity. The volume of free and dirt-cheat programs for the iPhone will be vastly diminished if the people writing those programs have to pay $99 to get them out to the public. Apple is basically pricing the hacker community out of iPhone application development, leaving only the pros.
Yup. You have to be a pro to come up with $99. It's a trip to the grocery store. It's less than a utility bill. It's a month of vente lattes. I like John Gruber's characterization of the C-Note price of admission as a "bozo filter."

Can someone please tell me what must-have third party applications are residing on those "open" smartphones? Wait, change "must-have" to "worth the time to download," also filter that list based on whether they crash the phone more than half the time they operate.

I had one of those other smartphones with the open development platform. The stuff it came with barely ran. The available third-party applications were difficult to find, ugly when they ran, if they ran. The ones I tried also crashed my phone even when they weren't running.

At the end of the post, Mitch belches:
I was one of the first people to buy [an iPhone] when it went on sale June 29, and I like it a lot. But what smartphone will I, and other users, buy when it's time to replace the iPhone in a year or two? Will we upgrade the iPhone, or go with something more open next time? That's a question Apple is betting its future on.
Well, Mitch, that's a question you're going to have to answer. Would you rather have a device full of software written by amateurs with nothing vested in your user experience, no accountability for the functionality of the device, and no oversight for quality or security between you and a basement-dwelling hacker? Or would you, and most users, prefer to have software that has been verified to work, software that won't crash the system, software that will be easily searchable and downloadable? Oh yeah, and a device for which there actually is software worth the time and energy to download?

Apple's betting their future on that. Me too.

Full disclosure: The author has a few shares of Apple. Whenever I collect enough change out of couch cushions and under the bed, I buy another share or two. That will continue for the foreseeable future.

Interestingly, as a late update, Mitch notes that Alexander Wolfe posted a similar mess of worm-eaten drivel elsewhere on the same site. This under the heading "Great minds think alike." I might have phrased that differently.

Note that at no time in the above post did I ever resort to petty name-calling. I never said assclown, dipwad, technologically illiterate troll, or any of those other mean things. No applause, please.

Time to find my jammies and teddy bear.