So far, the 21st century is the century of us against them, of open vs. closed, of yes vs. no. Don Reisinger in Electronista sums up the latter issue of negative terms and how “no” applies to Apple’s smart phone business:
In politics, some say the Republican party has become the ‘Party of No.’ Rather than find solutions to issues, its critics say, the GOP has instead decided to strike down anything and everything that the Democrats support.That technique, while somewhat effective, is being panned by pundits. The same might be said for Apple.
Might be, yes. Anyone who thinks that way isn’t thinking deeply about the issues at hand. For better or worse, Apple marches to a singular drum, a steadfast mission. Voters will decide, for better or worse, whether the Republican Party’s strategy of ‘Party of No’ has merit. For Apple, customers have already voted a resounding yes.
Yes Is No, And No Is Yes
As Republican politicians have found, easy solutions are easy to find, difficult to implement. Likewise, similarly endowed technology pundits grab an idea and run with with it, giving little thought to how their perspective fits into the big picture. Regarding Apple, Reisinger continues:
Although the company is currently a leader in the mobile market, it has decided that it would rather say “no” to strategies that companies like Google offer in their mobile platforms than acquiesce to market demand.
Market demand? Or, technology pundit demand? The market has already spoken and continues to speak. Apple’s strategy for mobile devices (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad) has growing sales, growing profits, growing market share.
What are the Google strategies and market demands to which Apple must acquiesce? Flash? Has not the market spoken already? Flash is irrelevant to most money paying customers. It’s not irrelevant to Adobe, of course, who desires the proprietary Flash to don open sheep’s clothing. It’s not irrelevant to would-be technology pundits who love to describe a good technology fist fight between industry heavyweights.
Apple has made it clear that it wants to control every aspect of its App Store. The company recently announced that only Apple’s development tools can be used to create applications for its App Store.
Is Apple saying no to control, or saying yes to control? Or, is Apple saying no to mediocre development tools (pushed by greedy Adobe), or yes to curated computing and superior tools? Let the market decide. Or, let technology pundits decide for us.
Developers almost universally railed against the decision. The issue, they said, is that using Apple’s tool forces them to develop a program for the iPhone and then totally rebuild that application for another platform with a different tool. According to one developer, it creates a scenario where the cost of building an application is incurred twice, rather than once, like it previously was.
Wow. Except for a few things. Developers did not almost universally do anything—except continue to develop for the iPhone because, you know, it’s commercial and all, and they seem to, well, you know, universally like money.
Yes, not having cross platform tools means a developer has to use separate tools to build an Android app, and Apple’s tools to build an iPhone or iPad app. What’s not mentioned is that the resulting cross platform app, developed by mediocre, common denominator tools, generally is crummy by comparison to native iPhone or iPad apps. Maybe that’s why app developers didn’t universally take their marbles to Android’s open Market instead. It seems that universally no one is buying much over there.
The Biggest “No No” Of All
As long as Apple’s products sell faster than the competition, which they are, and developers can make money on iPhone and iPad-only apps, and they are, all will be happy despite the policy of “no.”
What of the biggest “no no” of all?
But perhaps the most hotly contested “no” from Steve Jobs comes in the form of pornography.
Apple said no, and kicked the pornography peddlers out of paradise.
But those against Steve Jobs and Apple say that it’s a mistake. Once again, they contend that they should be able to download any app they want, regardless of whether Steve Jobs thinks a particular application is ethical or not. They say that Apple shouldn’t make decisions for them.
Call that curated computing. It’s obvious that Apple is making a number of decisions which affect their products, their developers, their customers, and their competitors. That is their right. The developers and the customers have a right to find products elsewhere. So far, Apple’s strategy appears sound. Apple’s so-called strategy of no also has the effect of pushing competitors in a different direction.
Is Apple pushing Google toward mediocrity?
Google is working hard to get Flash running on newer Android mobile devices, thus far with mediocre results (poor performance, reduced battery life, inconsistent interface). Google’s Android Market takes all applications, regardless of quality, which has side effects—pornography, poor performing apps, security problems, etc.
Maybe, just maybe, Apple’s so-called strategy of no is a brilliant strategy. Android smart phones already are a cacophony of dizzying designs, capabilities, and performance. Apple made some tough decisions to avoid those problems. Some will argue that Apple should not make such decisions for them.
But so far, Apple has… And along the way, it has cemented its position as the company that says “no” when it might be better to simply say “yes.” Google has. And so far, it has mostly helped that company.
The cemented position is arguable, of course, but after all the postulating and posturing, one must ask a few simple questions. First, how has Android helped Google? Revenue? Profits? For the most part, Google’s mobile device efforts have proven economically anemic (and I’m being kind, since they’re huge money losers). Second, how has Apple’s strategy of no helped the company? Apple’s mobile devices are wildly popular, with record revenue and profits, and growing market share.
Could it not be more clear that Apple’s strategy of no is really a strategy of yes for the company’s fortunes (not to mention developers and customers)? Microsoft and Google and now Adobe have been forced by Apple to compete in ways which are not economically beneficial to their respective companies.
However a technology observer wants to describe it, Apple’s strategy is working very well for Apple.