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Articles: Here’s hoping the App Store teaches Apple a lesson...

From modest beginnings with just a few hundred applications when iTune “App Store” first opened for business in June 2008 to over 10,000 apps today, it’s clear that mini apps for your iPhone and iPod touch are a big hit.

What we’re referring to in the headline is the hope that this success chips away at Apple’s usual mindset that third parties are only necessary evils to be tolerated, as opposed to something to be nurtured and coddled.

Apple has a long history of being difficult to work with. They are an interesting dichotomy of a socially progressive company (and by that we mean ideologies such as supporting issues such as gay rights and just plain being “cool,” as opposed to socially generous, which they’re not, which brings us to the other side of that dichotomy) and one of the most bottom-line driven companies on the planet. The internal whirlwinds those two opposites create has often left third-party developers holding the bag… or excess inventory they could have avoided had there been closer cooperation from the mother ship.

Apple is much like a shark… with third party developers and manufacturers being the Pilot fish that hang on for dear life, feeding on whatever scraps come their way. And while sharks probably don’t turn around and eat their symbiotic partner very often, they also don’t give a moment’s thought to them. They are, after all, sharks… the big kahunas, the top of the oceanic food chain. If you want to make a living off Apple, you do so at your own risk. There is not a compassionate bone in the collective persona’s body that is Apple… I guess that might be true of most big companies, but with Apple it stands out more because they are this otherwise undefinable cool.

But clearly, the App Store is only a success because third-party developers have provided applications and games by the thousands, many of them exceedingly clever and useful. It is but an example of what can happen when you create a win/win scenario for all parties. It’s as if the App Store became the shark that developed intelligent appreciation for the Pilot fish, and intentionally let nicer scraps fall from its mouth to reward them for eating up all the parasites that would otherwise infect the shark. That is not typical of Apple. Normally, the “Apple Shark” would just as soon eat the Pilot fish as let them make a living off the scraps. I just hope this success puts a dent in that Apple mindset. Win/wins and trusting partnerships can lead to great and unexpected things.

Now that Apple has crawled out of the single-digit desktop computer market share bog, it will find it increasingly difficult to do the go-it-alone thing. This market is large, and it’s a beast, especially as more Mac users come to the platform without that Apple zeal that allowed people to forgive some of Apple’s missteps.

It is one reason we strongly believe the public should support third-party products, service providers and resellers. Apple would love to go the whole thing alone… it’s in their DNA. But customers are the final word, and if you support the whole ecosystem, you’ll ultimately support a better and broader experience, and more choices, from what is clearly the best computer platform on the planet. Just never forget that there are razor sharp teeth in that smiling mouth.
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