Funny how things have come full circle:
I’ve always believed that the Web is the best platform out there: it’s open, free (as in free speech), and flexible. Apple did a great job with the original iPhone of making web apps work great on smartphones, and they’re continuing to do so. (MobileSafari is still by far the best mobile browser out there in terms of performance and support for modern HTML5 and CSS3 features.) But the best part is that web apps work on any device with a web browser, so software developers don’t have to maintain several different native apps for different operating systems.
Obviously there are still challenges for making web apps as functional as native ones – things like notifications, multitasking, and user interfaces are still not as straightforward as they are on native apps – but I’m convinced that they already work great for many uses, and will be more and more relevant in the future of mobile devices.
Like many, I reacted very negatively to Apple’s new policy: any paid content inside iOS apps be available through Apple’s subscription system, must be available at the lowest price, and must give Apple a 30% cut of that price.
John Gruber has written a very thorough analysis of the popular arguments against this new policy, and attempts to divine Apple’s reasoning for implementing it:
Apple doesn’t give a damn about companies with business models that can’t afford a 70/30 split. Apple’s running a competitive business; competition is cold and hard. And who exactly can’t afford a 70/30 split? Middlemen. It’s not that Apple is opposed to middlemen — it’s that Apple wants to be the middleman. It’s difficult to expect them to be sympathetic to the plights of other middlemen…
This is what galls some: Apple is doing this because they can, and no other company is in a position to do it. This is not a fear that in-app subscriptions will fail because Apple’s 30 percent slice is too high, but rather that in-app subscriptions will succeed despite Apple’s (in their minds) egregious profiteering. I.e. that charging what the market will bear is somehow unscrupulous. To the charge that Apple Inc. is a for-profit corporation run by staunch capitalists, I say, “Duh”.
Gruber has scored a direct hit on Apple’s strategy, and his explanation makes it seem very solid for Apple, its customers, and content creators. The biggest losers are Apple’s competitor middle-men. I think Apple’s main interest is being the best damned middle man in the business. The only problem is that some of those middle-men make products I really like, and Apple will only play ball with them if Apple gets to make the rules.
Daring Fireball: Dirty Percent
The iPad created a new class of computing devices and a new way of interacting with technology. It seems like this ambitious device means something different to just about every segment of the technology world: Old Media publishers herald the device as their salvation from death at the hands of the Web. Open software advocates balk at its controlled app platform as a regression for things like rich web applications and open standards. Tech pundits label it a device which prioritizes passive consumption of content over production and collaboration. Customers complain about the $500 starting price — and then buy over 15 million of them in under a year. (This quarter, Apple is on track to sell more iPads than Macs.)
I took the plunge and bought an iPad last September to see what all the fuss was about. I have to say that I don’t think any of the popular perspectives effectively mirror my experience. Things are about to change very quickly in this new space, and I think this is the appropriate time at which to reflect on its current state and potential in the future.
Devs keep on cranking out top-notch apps for the iPad that simply wouldn’t happen on another platform. This time up, we’ve got Aweditorium, an app that takes great music and supplements it with good (yet minimalistic) visuals to make for a great music discovery experience. Aweditorium supplies music, biographical information and photos on new artists, all streamed from their servers. The app has the ability to share a full stream of a song on Facebook or Twitter, and also encourages users to buy songs they like most straight from the iTunes store. (It should be noted that most indie artists get 70% of all revenue from the iTunes store.)
Aweditorium tickles me in all the right places:
- An excellent example of iOS apps’ capability to let technology help us experience art in new ways
- A fun and easy way to find and share great music
- Yet another channel for independent artists to get serious exposure without an evil music label
Yeah, my Apple Fanboy quotient is off the charts today. Blame Aweditorium, they’ve made a first-rate app.
Man, Apple really means business about that whole freedom from porn on the App Store thing.