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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Apple intimidation drives developer innovation

Mark this day -- Aug. 10, 2011 -- on a calendar, for it may be remembered as a turning point for Apple, when it finally claimed and maintained largest market capitalization and the beginnings of a developer revolt broke iOS mobile apps dominance.

Yesterday, several times, Apple's market valuation topped Exxon, making it the world's biggest company. Absolute Power

Amazon, Financial Times and Vudu released Web apps that sidestep Apple App Store policies and can be consumed in a browser. Apple's success on mobile devices is largely tied to the iOS App Store, where there are more than 450,000 apps -- 100,000 of them for iPad. Many people are convinced that Apple's platform is a sure winner because of the large number of apps available. Analysts, bloggers, investors and journalists sing this apps-rule-the-day tune. For developers with limited development resources, HTML5 is a compelling alternative.

"While the focus continues to be iOS and Android application development, mobile websites are becoming a complementary requirement for most developers and businesses today".

For some developers, HTML5 mobile web app development is the priority -- and Apple largely is the reason. In February, Apple changed its apps policy for e-bookstores and other content providers barring their using external links to purchase content and demanding in-app purchases. The change meant that to sell books on iOS devices, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers would have to pay Apple a 30-percent commission. In July, e-booksellers updated their apps, removing the option to buy via external links.

According to major analyst firms, including Amazon and IDC, iPad has overwhelming market share lead in the market for media tablets. Secondly, Apple's apparent attempts to extend iPad into the nascent e-reader market. F You, Apple

Today's response, from Amazon, Financial Times and Vudu is nothing short of innovation to sidestep intimidation. Wouldn't it be funny if Apple bullying led to a larger developer revolt and escape to HTML5 mobile web apps? In April 2010 post "Clash of the titans: Apple, Google battle for the mobile Web" I laid out opposing Apple and Google worldviews -- one focusing on mobile resident apps the other on apps/services consumed in the browser: "Where these two worldviews clash is the mobile device, such as the smartphone. Mobile applications favor Apple, which tightly controls the hardware-software platform -- and applications development by the APIs it chooses to expose and the terms dictated to developers".

Apple's tight controls have been good for keeping the iOS platform stable and the end user experience consistent. Intimidation is strangely driving innovation -- and some developers away from the App Store.

FT even offers instructions for adding the HTML5 app to the iPad and iPhone home screen.

No need to install an app should chill Apple execs to their bones.

Then there is Amazon, and I must thank Apple. Thanks to the Kindle app Amazon developed to get around restrictive App Store policies, I can now read Kindle ebooks on my Chromebook. I look forward to even more apps, as more developers create HTML5 mobile apps either to compliment those for iOS (and even Android) or even to replace them.

Apple intimidation drives developer innovation

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