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  1.    #1  
    I have been wanting to write this for some time, but, just today, read an article that goes very well with my thoughts on the matter. I will include the link at the end of this post.

    Let me get the requisite disclaimers out of the way. I am an iPhone user. (Why is it that around here, that sounds like admitting to being a drug user? ) I have owned every version of the iPhone, yes, including the iP4. I was once a Palm user pre Pre. I just wanted you to have some idea of where I am coming from and what some of my biases may be.

    Almost every one around here talks about the App Store as if it has always been there. You believe that developers are drawn to the App Store because it represents 100 million users and a whole lot of money. You believe that HP will greatly help Palm in that department because HP has a lot of money and incentives to throw at developers, and/or, new devices will sell more with the backing of HP, and developers will be drawn to the platform when it is more successful in the marketplace. As intuitive and sensible as that sounds, all of it is wrong. Here's why:

    For starters, you are asking the wrong question and choosing the wrong starting point. You ask why the App Store is so successful today. You see the market and mind share that Apple has accumulated, and conclude that those are the factors that draw developers. That may well be true for many developers starting today. But that does not begin to address the more pertinent question of how the App Store became successful in the first place. The App Store did not become successful because it was successful; it started from nothing and grew from there.

    To understand the App Store's success, you have to remember how it started. As most of you will surely recall, Apple was dead set against allowing any third party apps into its ecosystem. You think the app policy is restrictive, now? For the first year, Apple rejected every app. Steve Jobs was adamant and public about his desire to keep the iPhone closed. His grudging concession was to allow web apps. Keep in mind, none of these apps were commercial; they were purely hobbyist. I have not checked the numbers in some time, but I feel it is safe to say that there are far more iPhone web apps than native Pre apps. Why would developers write for a platform that didn't want them, provided no tools for them, and gave them no hope for a future with the platform?

    Enter, iPhone OS 2.0.

    Enter, the App Store.

    This is perhaps the only time in the history of Apple that they completely caved to external pressure to do something they didn't want to do. Developers had been beating Apple's door down from the first day of the iPhone announcement. They made great, free web apps for iPhone users. This is one of those times where developers had a better vision of Apple's product than Apple.

    I give this background to show that long before there was an App Store, before even one iPhone was sold, the App Store was already a runaway success. Why? Developers saw the device, the OS, the total experience, and imagined what they could do with that kind of system to play with. Their creative imagination was piqued. They were hooked the moment they saw it, and more hooked the moment they got their hands on one. In short, they fell in love with the iPhone, and indulged their passion for development. It is no more complicated than that.

    Don't forget, Apple did not invent the idea of making lightweight apps for mobile devices. There were plenty of other options for developers at the time. Apple did not have to pay or cajole anyone to develop for them. Fast forward back to the present. Microsoft is literally paying developers to write for WP7. They are not just paying any developers; they are paying iPhone developers. Palm has all but abandoned (it seems), their native SDK in favor of a platform designed to make it easy to port iPhone apps. It is as if these companies have no idea why talented developers are drawn to the iPhone platform. Indeed, they don't.

    I will digress for a moment to relate my own personal experience with this type of confusion. When I was young, I fancied myself a backgammon player. I was good enough to beat all my friends, that is, until I met a real master of the game. He beat me almost every time without mercy. This went on for a long time with me never understanding why I was losing. I had a fundamental misconception about the game. I thought there was just a little skill and a lot of luck. Not so. I couldn't win consistently until I realized how little luck played in the game. My mentor, then, taught me the strategy and skill I needed to play the game well. Today, there is not a computer program or human being I know who can beat me at the game. That could not happen until I started to understand the true nature of the game.

    Palm does not understand the nature of the game. It is not about aping, or even one upping what the market leader does. It is about capturing the imagination of developers and end users, alike. Developers looked at the iPhone and started imagining the new worlds they could create. They looked at the Pre and just saw another smartphone. If Apple had only made a Treo clone, it would have failed. Developers would have just kept on doing what they were already doing.

    How does Palm win?

    Palm, and anyone else, for that matter, can win by creating a product that makes people fall in love with technology all over again and captures their imaginations. This is still possible. The iPhone does not have to be the template. As long as it is, there will never be another app store to rival Apple's.

    Also, consider the type of developer each platform draws: Android attracts a more hard core version of the iPhone developer. These are people who are deep into the geekosphere. They make things that are cool, but not necessarily useful or safe. A recent article revealed that fully 20% of all Android apps put the privacy of the user at risk, some even doing malicious things in the background. WebOS attracts developers who want to patch and fix and improve and tweak the basic functionality of the OS. WebOS developers are more represented in the Homebrew community than in the native development community. WP7 attracts the type of developer who must be paid to lift a finger. They are seeking developers who have no passion for the platform. I wonder what kind of apps that will birth.

    Finally, iPhone app developers are the ones who have an eye for aesthetics, and a thought for the end user. They are not just making apps for the sake of technology, at least, not most of them. Yes, many apps are merely for the sake of mindless, adolescent entertainment, but not most. Apple still happily rejects apps everyday. Apple has attracted the type of developer who writes apps that appeal to the masses. That is because they have a product that appeals to, and captures the imagination of the masses.

    My final thoughts are about the iPhone user. He or she is a person that so many here are willing to write off as mindless sheeple, not even worthy of full, human consideration. This is such a horrible mistake, and one that hurts the viability of your platform. Remember, all of these current iPhone sheeple were using something else just four short years ago. There were no massive herds of Apple sheeple, and iPods still had wheels. Apple had no presence in the mobile phone space. They were not the epitome of cool. They were not the popular kid that everyone wanted to be like. In order to become an iPhone sheeple, a person had to abandon something else. They chose a product made my a company that had never made a phone, and went to a carrier that was the most despised in the industry, and the rest is history.

    The sheeple are your friends and family, coworkers and employers. They are rich and poor, young and old, male and female, gay and straight. They range from those who are afraid of computers to those who have CS degrees. THEY WERE ALL USING SOMETHING ELSE FOUR YEARS AGO! They experienced something that made them leave their more established brands and superior carriers by the tens of millions. Those are the one who you write off as being beneath your notice.

    In summary, Palm is losing the game because they do not understand the nature of it. Palm does not need to sell a lot of units to attract great developers; they need to create ONE great device that fires the imagination. They have to stop thinking like an Asian KIRF company, and start figuring out what hasn't already been done. It does not have to have a bigger screen than the Evo, or more pixels than the iPhone, or more ram than the... You get the point. They need to think about what things they can enable end users to do that is not already accessible. What new worlds can they open? The specs don't matter. Specs don't fire the imagination. Enable people in new and interesting ways and Palm can sell three dollars worth of parts for three hundred. People buy what the product enables, not the product. Do that, and developers even better than those currently working on the iPhone platform will beat down your door.

    Here is a link to an interesting article highlighting iPhone developers. Enjoy.

    Developers weigh in on iOS 4 | Mobile | iPhone Central | Macworld
  2. #2  
    I never understood how having an app store of over 200,000 apps could be an advantage... it has to be a chore just to select an app when there are so many variants of the same thing.
  3.    #3  
    Quote Originally Posted by DrHeathenScum View Post
    I never understood how having an app store of over 200,000 apps could be an advantage... it has to be a chore just to select an app when there are so many variants of the same thing.
    Hard as this might be to believe, I mostly agree. It is all about having something for everyone. For a small community, 200,000 is too much. When you have 100 million users, you need a lot of apps.

    Don't focus on the number of apps. That is one of the big mistakes competitors make. The App Store is not successful because it has 200,000 apps; it has 200,000 apps because it is successful. The number of apps is just a byproduct of the success, not the cause.
  4. #4  
    BTW, good read.
  5. #5  
    This isn't a great article. It concentrates purely on the app store and none of the rest of webOS. I don't use webOS because I want to be different, I use webOS because I love how intuitive and beautifully designed it is. And there are and will be some great apps on webOS.
  6. #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by dandbj13 View Post
    Hard as this might be to believe, I mostly agree. It is all about having something for everyone. For a small community, 200,000 is too much. When you have 100 million users, you need a lot of apps.

    Don't focus on the number of apps. That is one of the big mistakes competitors make. The App Store is not successful because it has 200,000 apps; it has 200,000 apps because it is successful. The number of apps is just a byproduct of the success, not the cause.
    Absolutely.

    While the search in the App Store is fairly functional, I buy most of my apps by reading third party recommendations, then going to the app store and looking them up and buying them.

    It's rare for me to search the app store, buy one, try it out and find it meets a need. Even if I *think* it will, and its well made, in practice it doesn't I find I just don't use it.

    However, I have found recommendations to apps elsewhere (Top ten lists, tech blogs) and sought those out and been very happy. Sort of like the review system, but more reliable.
  7. #7  
    Can I ask a question to fingirl and bj13. If you both use iphone products and not webOS why waste your time on this forum constantly arguing?
  8. #8  
    I'm not a big fan of the "app for everything" model that Apple seems to have just so (in my opinion) they can make more money. I toyed around with a friend's iPhone in the past and the iPad on the sales display and noticed something odd. If I tried to navigate directly to a website like cnn.com or imdb.com using the browser, the site was unbearable for how long it took to load and navigate, but if I used the app it was very snappy. This has been my own personal experience so might not be the nature of the iProducts.

    To me it appeared that Apple, or perhaps the site itself were purposely crippling the user experience on the "free and open" browser access to their content and optimizing it for the app delivered version. This does sort of make sense by both Apple and the website. Why provide free and open content to these devices from their browser when you can get someone to pay for an app to get the same free content. Yes, I know that a number of places offer free apps to view their page but other than the "app for that" sales pitch there is no real reason that an app is needed unless there is crippling going on.

    I'm tending to think that the "We have an iPhone app" campaign is this decade's version of "AOL Keyword." Look where that is now, and just imagine where we'll be in another 10 years (hopefully less).
  9.    #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by pip smith View Post
    Can I ask a question to fingirl and bj13. If you both use iphone products and not webOS why waste your time on this forum constantly arguing?
    I was a fan of the old Palm, so I have a bit of Palm DNA. Also, I thought I posted in the Cross Platform forum. Perhaps the mods will move it there.
  10. #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by dandbj13 View Post
    I was a fan of the old Palm, so I have a bit of Palm DNA. Also, I thought I posted in the Cross Platform forum. Perhaps the mods will move it there.
    Me too.

    And pretty sure we ARE in cross platform chat. I enjoy reading about other devices, and how they compare with each other and the Pre.

    I also follow the future-palm categories.

    You might think I am "constantly arguing" LOL - but I think you'd find - right or wrong - I am only "arguing" when someone posts something about another product that is either wrong or contradicts my personal experience.

    Please consider that my service to the forum....
  11. Maturin's Avatar
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    #11  
    Good read, thanks for writing that.
    It seems to me like webOS can still cater to a nice middle ground between Android and iOS, by being stable and predictable, as well as open.
    But you're right, webOS needs to find a way to truly capture the imagination of the development community to be successful. I believe the framework is there to latch onto something fresh, such as the cloud-centric ecosystem. And being able to fold into HP's line of printers, computers, tvs et all is another interesting new avenue. The problem is, for it to be successful it also needs to successfully repeat all that has come before it. So by having a limited sdk, no access to the mic, no access to the gpu and no compass really hurt webOS from the beginning.
    It remains to be seen whether HPalm can salvage the situation. I believe they can.
    HP Touchpad: I just cant quit you, baby.
  12. #12  
    I think the real story is that Apple actually first captured some ecosystem, then used that to grow to the next market.

    Apple made the music ecosystem by buying iTunes then getting the record producers to agree to sell their goods for $.99. There were other mp3 players, but Apple had the music store, so iPods took off.

    Apple then used the music ecosystem to sell their first phone. And remember, at that time, there were 0 iPhone applications. After a year, they then allowed applications into iTunes (and I'm sure this wasn't just user pressure, but part of the road-map).

    Now, with the app store ecosystem, they launched the iPad. Up to that point, tablets weren't huge, but voila, now everyone wants a tablet. And it looks like Apple's new ecosystem for tablets may include publications?

    If someone is ever going to derail Apple, they need to create and own a market BEFORE Apple jumps into it. I think eBooks/publications are still in play, as Amazon and Apple and the publishers are still fighting. 4G opens up video conferencing. Photos/video are also in play, as I think that market is still fragmented (maybe HP can leverage their printer market control?).

    The other thing to keep in mind is that iOS is getting a bit long in the tooth. It is flawed, and wasn't really designed from the ground up as a mobile OS. Someday, they'll have to scrap it and move on, like they did for their old desktop OS. Maybe in 3 years? 5? So at that point, they will be vulnerable.
    KA1
    Visor Deluxe->Visor Prism/Digital Link->Treo 650->Treo 700p->Pre->GSM Unlocked Pre 2 (wifi only)->FrankenPre + Touchpad 32 ->+ Touchpad 4G ATT + ATT Pre3 + 64 White Touchpad... bliss.
  13.    #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by ka1 View Post
    Apple made the music ecosystem by buying iTunes then getting the record producers to agree to sell their goods for $.99. There were other mp3 players, but Apple had the music store, so iPods took off.
    You make it sound like it was trivially easy, and that anyone could have done it. Apple just had the good fortune of stumbling into it. That kind of characterization is a long ways from what really happened. Apple didn't create the music business, nor the online music business. They didn't invent mp3, or mp3 players. They did not have dominance in any market at the time. They had a superior idea about implementation and packaging. Don't forget, iPods and iTunes were Mac only products. The Windows community saw those offerings and clamored for them. The iPod was an instant success on Windows because they already wanted it and there was a pent up demand.

    Quote Originally Posted by ka1 View Post
    Apple then used the music ecosystem to sell their first phone...
    Actually, the first phone to leverage the iTunes ecosystem was not an iPhone; it was the Motorola Rokr. It failed miserably because the phone and overall experience sucked. You can't just attribute Apple's success to pairing a phone with iTunes. That didn't work for Moto, and it was never going to work for Palm.
  14. #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by dandbj13 View Post
    You make it sound like it was trivially easy, and that anyone could have done it.
    Easy? Hardly. Who said it was easy?
    KA1
    Visor Deluxe->Visor Prism/Digital Link->Treo 650->Treo 700p->Pre->GSM Unlocked Pre 2 (wifi only)->FrankenPre + Touchpad 32 ->+ Touchpad 4G ATT + ATT Pre3 + 64 White Touchpad... bliss.
  15. #15  
    Quote Originally Posted by ka1 View Post
    The other thing to keep in mind is that iOS is getting a bit long in the tooth. It is flawed, and wasn't really designed from the ground up as a mobile OS. Someday, they'll have to scrap it and move on, like they did for their old desktop OS. Maybe in 3 years? 5? So at that point, they will be vulnerable.
    WebOS "wasn't really designed from the ground up as a mobile OS" either. Like Android, WebOS is linux. The OS X kernel is not architecturally inferior to linux in any meaningful way.

    The idea that Apple would scrap OS X in 3-5 years is absurd.
  16. #16  
    Quote Originally Posted by UntidyGuy View Post
    I doubt this. iOS has proved to be fast, efficient, and scalable. It does games great. It does battery life great. It's smooth. It does multimedia great. It runs the iPad pretty well. If designed from the ground-up as a mobile OS means that it takes more than a year to come up with a microphone API then I don't think that would be an advantage.

    It doesn't really have multitasking, and even now it is asking applications to handle this (something most OS's do themselves). It doesn't do notifications well (blocks stuff?), even in iOS4. It requires a desktop to install stuff. It still doesn't have the synchronization that Web OS (and Sense UI) have.

    It is an elegant and well designed system, and it is pretty fantastic. But all systems age. And most systems have their positives/negatives - I can think of something that RIM/Android/WebOS/iOS do better than the others, and things worse. Some of these things are core to the OS, and can't be retrofitted (out of the above examples, most can be fixed).

    I'm 100% with you on the microphone api delay, and I'm not really defending Palm here. We are discussing Apple's app market, and potential ways to crack it, if they exist.
    KA1
    Visor Deluxe->Visor Prism/Digital Link->Treo 650->Treo 700p->Pre->GSM Unlocked Pre 2 (wifi only)->FrankenPre + Touchpad 32 ->+ Touchpad 4G ATT + ATT Pre3 + 64 White Touchpad... bliss.
  17. ksumanth's Avatar
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    #17  
    O boy someone seems to have taken the Steve jobs "magical" thing a little too seriously.

    I respectfully disagree with the article, regarding its reasons

    Why is the Android Market growing so fast if it takes developers a magical device to develop?

    Why dont all the enthusiastic people not give out their apps for free on apple store? just like WM, why did apple create this appstore concept in the first place?
    Last edited by ksumanth; 06/24/2010 at 05:55 PM.
  18. #18  
    Quote Originally Posted by DrHeathenScum View Post
    I never understood how having an app store of over 200,000 apps could be an advantage... it has to be a chore just to select an app when there are so many variants of the same thing.
    Because what might be a useless app for me, might be a great app for somebody else. 200,000 different apps means there is great variety. Something for everyone. For example, I have a coworker that loves the birdwatching app that Apple use to show on one of their commercials. The app is useless to me. He uses it everyday.
  19. #19  
    I disagree with the original post. Here's why. WebOS is a compelling OS and should stir developers' imaginations to produce more and higher quality apps, but uptake has been slow. The iPhone had a significant advantage because it had the most compelling OS at launch (compared with windows mobile and blackberry). Developers delivered on the promise of the OS and as the world witnessed the apps ecosystem grow, the financial incentives kept the momentum going. Enter today with webOS and there is a highly imaginative, productive homebrew community. However, unlike the original iPhone OS that hardly had any competition, webOS has to compete with an established iPhone and android ecosystem. Competition in the mobile space is fiercer than ever, and it takes a heck of a lot more than a passionate developer community to succeed.
  20.    #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by ksumanth View Post
    Why is the Android Market growing so fast if it takes developers a magical device to develop?
    Android grows in popularity as it develops more user focused devices that give people unique and interesting functionality. It still has an abnormally high population of tech geeks compared to average people, but it's getting there.

    Quote Originally Posted by ksumanth View Post
    Why dont all the enthusiastic people not give out their apps for free on apple store? just like WM...?
    You must have fallen asleep during that part. Those enthusiastic developers DID give away their web apps for free. When they got a chance, they gave away the native apps for free. They still do in record numbers. The sheer volume of free apps gives you some idea of how much enthusiasm there is for the platform, ey?

    Apple didn't want the App Store in the beginning. Even now, it is running just a little above break even.
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