Remember that, at its core, the iPhone offers not a whole lot more than a phone, browser, camera, iPod and GPS. Which, ok, is kind of impressive. But not truly differentiating, Apple’s acknowledged strength in user experiences aside. As good and smart as Apple is at design – and they are very, very good – they’re never going to be as good and smart as everyone else. We see this in the enterprise world frequently, where vendors that foster an ecosystem succeed and those that don’t, well, don’t. But we haven’t seen too many examples of this play out in the consumer world yet, which is one of the reasons the iPhone is such an interesting platform. With the App Store, Apple’s attempting to cement its role with a community play.
I find it interesting that everyone holds up the App Store as the key reason for the iPhone being successful – the key differentiating factor. Has everyone forgotten that the iPhone originally launched with no developer SDK at all and how well did that go? That’s right, it was a massive success.
The iPhone is not succeeding purely because of the App Store, in fact it could just as easily be the opposite – the App Store is succeeding because the iPhone is so popular. There’s nothing simple about developing for the iPhone – you have to learn Objective-C and Cocoa Touch, you have to pay to get involved at all and you don’t know if you’ll be allowed to ship your app until after you finish it and submit it to Apple. So why do people do it? Because there are a huge number of iPhone users out there.
In the short time the iPhone has been out, people have simply forgotten how revolutionary the phone and Apple software that comes with it actually is. The third party apps are just very tasty icing on top.