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Apple: A strategy dinosaur?

A rather brilliant article in iMedia Connection ( highlights some of the flaws in Apple’s strategy, and refers to what many partners (developer especially), perceive as pure arrogance.

Among the noteworthy points made are:

“Apple’s desire to control its marketplace has made it a poor choice for developers, even when it offers a large market. Having a large base of customers makes Apple initially attractive, but its poor support for the developer community eventually forces smaller niche players out.”

“When Steve Jobs announced MS Office for the Mac to a stunned audience in 1997, he looked very uncomfortable about it. He justified it by saying Apple existed in an eco-system and could not sustain the Mac as a closed platform. His iPhone strategy seems to have forgotten this painful lesson.”

“The iPhone may be popular now, but history has shown us that the days of competing operating systems eventually give way to more open platforms. The world will not tolerate three or four competing smartphone systems with roughly equal market share. Eventually, one system will dominate. Apple’s iPhone OS and BlackBerry’s RIM are not candidates for that role because they’re not available for other phones, which only leaves Google’s Android and Microsoft’s WinOS as candidates for global domination. “

“Apple’s attitude to developers looks to me as if Apple feels it is doing developers a favor by allowing them the privilege of access to their customers.”

The author goes on to say that while Apple designs great products, their business strategy is stuck in the 1970s.  As someone who has experienced the pain of dealing with Apple’s almighty decision making power on what goes in their store or not, I can certainly agree with a lot of the points being made.

Google and Microsoft’s challenge of course, is to try and emulate the success of the eco system model of Apple, but in an open environment. This is challenging given proliferation of app stores and mobile operators somewhat confusion about what role they are going to play in this (case in point T-Mobile USA’s recent closing of their developer program).

In the end, it comes down to the value proposition proposed to end users: Apple may have a lead now, but a case can be made that this advantage will be short lived.

Please chime in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Posted in The Business of Mobile.

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