Moving from an Apple ecosystem to a mobile ecosystem

By September 21, 2010Apple, Google, Mobile

image Regular readers will know that in the past I’ve been critical of Apple’s attitude towards its partners in the mobile ecosystem.  I have argued that their insistence on controlling and approving everything and on adherence to the Apple way of doing things makes life harder for startups and stifles innovation.  Jobs’ Thoughts on Flash published in April were to me symptomatic of Apple’s belief in the superiority of all things Apple and their lack of respect/understanding for their ecosystem partners.

In the last couple of weeks it seems that Apple might be changing.

They have done a bunch of things that many thought they never would:

Taken together these developments are pretty significant and if Apple continues in this vein then pretty soon the mobile ecosystem will look pretty different.  Up until now Apple has dominated the mobile internet/mobile app world and sought to lock everyone else out – a domination based on the twin strengths of devastatingly good hardware and an app store that was far stronger than the competition’s.  Their position was sufficiently strong that they felt comfortable forcing developers to make choices between their platform and others (largely Android, Symbian, Blackberry, Windows 7), and despite the significant hassles of dealing with Apple most developers swallowed the pain and went for the platform with the greatest numbers and best payment mechanism.

Now it seems that Apple are bringing the barriers down, and we are taking the first steps towards a world where Apple is (the most important) part of a wider mobile ecosystem rather than an ecosystem in and of itself.

These recent changes might reflect a sudden realisation at Apple that helping their partners ultimately helps them too, or it may be a response to the rise and rise of Android, but either way these developments are welcome.  Long may they continue.

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  • Could it also be as a result of fear from litigation? Analogies can be drawn to the Microsoft / Internet Explorer issue where their control a platform could give them an unfair competitive advantage when it comes to selling and/or monetising their apps.

  • Good point. Fear of the regulator is most likely an influence.

  • Brunings-Hansen

    Nice observation and potentially a tipping point? What do you think about competitive considerations behind the previous “applewall”? I mean as long as they keep a huge part of the developers focused on their Eco-system they gain momentum and keep up market entry barriers. Maybe Jobs just thinks that Apple has gone far enough with “exploiting” that first mover advantage?

  • My guess is that the rise of Android coupled with pressure from the regulators to be ‘friendlier’ led to this move. Culturally it is a big shift for Apple and it will be interesting to see if they remain committed to it.