the real success behind ios

The App Store. It’s the real innovation behind the iOS platform. How do I know? Because it has been the biggest battlefront for Apple since day one.

Straight back to the Macworld Keynote in 2007, the iPhone announcement incited developers with deep disappointment for not being provided an SDK for native app development. We’re all but certain that the SDK itself existed back then. In fact, iOS shares most of its development environment with Mac OS X. What wasn’t ready for primetime was the App Store. The process of screening applications, pushing updates, and creating guidelines in an attempt to protect Apple, its customers, and its developers, all had to be developed from scratch. Many aspects of the App Store were gleaned from Apple’s experience with iTunes, but there were still many unknowns.

After the App Store’s release, the battles only got more heated. Developer wait times, pulled applications, ambiguous and ever-changing guidelines, the Flash debacle, and now, this subscription fiasco, all have been in the forefront of Apple news and community discussion. But how could this not be expected? The App Store debuted as something altogether new, but it was so quickly taken for granted. I won’t rehash the pros and cons of the store that so many blogs have captured and repeated. The simplicity of having such a safe environment for buying and downloading software speaks for itself, and it has been paramount in the success of iOS.

The competitors of the iPad are trying to compete with USB ports, Adobe Flash support,  built-in cameras, other hardware features, size, and weight, but many of these are product differentiations based on a bygone PC era. The software ecosystem is what sets the iPad apart, and it’s what none of these other platforms provide. No one has a store that lets me download and purchase fast, native software, with any more confidence in its safety and security than just downloading some .zip archive off the web. Until someone takes the App Store seriously, and makes a model that competes with Apple’s toe-to-toe, none of the competitors are going to make headway in gaining tablet market share. And without a solid competitor, Apple has no reason to kowtow to anyone’s suggestions as to how their store should operate.

February 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

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