This week, at Apple's financial conference call, Steve Jobs took a few moments to talk about Google's platform seemingly openness versus Apple's seemingly closed one. Here are my toughts on the subject.
As a developer, do I care?
I think as a developer, we do care a lot. Everybody would like complete freedom: what language to use to write an app, what tools to use to debug it, what means to use to deploy it, etc. It may seem quite cool to be able to push rapidly a new version of an app without having to "ask for permission". We cannot be against virtues. You're successful on iOS and want to give Android a try. You want to expand. So you start building software for Android. You keep iOS development too. You start to spread thin. You think you're building apps but you are replicating. This is the point where providing experience is no more, because you're too busy trying to be opportinistic. You lose focus.
As a manufacturer do I care?
You bet. When you're name is Nokia, HTC, Sony-Ericson, you do care about openness. Take for example HTC. They want to be able to get an easy way to go to market without having to build a complete mobile OS themselve... This is way too hard. So they choose Android. But, they don't want to look like everybody else. Hardware is not enough to differenciate yourself. Then, since they don't invest much in software foundation, they build skins. So they develop a skin on top of Android to make their phones look pretty and not alike any others. As a manufacturer, you think you're open, innovate and provide choices.
As a telco company, do I care?
Oh you bet. Because your only job is to plant cell towers, how can you make yourself different than any other telcos? You pick and choose handsets from manufacturers that looks cool and think will make people visit your store. You don't really care about user experience, you care about ways to get the maximum money from your customers. If you can find a manufacturer that will allow you to install crapware on the handset, even provide your very own App Store because this is the only way that you found to innovate, then this is the jackpot. As a telco, you think you provide choices.
As an advertiser do I care?
Oh my god, yes every advertisers care about openness. The more different devices, the more they've got channels to push their crap to the handset users. They are happy, they think they educate the communities.
As a security expert, do I care?
Openness is the path to hell from a security stand point. Look at Windows and the security software business that is around this platform. Think: Facebook and security. Think identity thief. Think about information stealing. Openness is the friend of adversiters that are looking at very specific profiling information. Google is an information cruncher. They like information and providing their own platform they plant the seeds for future information indexing techniques.... Like they say: you ain't see nothing yet.
As a user, do I care?
If you're a geek. Yes. If you're an average user? No. Users cares about experience. Look at what is going on in an Apple Store? Experience. Have you seen people talking about their iPhone? They talk about experience. Have you seen people smiling when using their iPhone or iPod touch or iPad? You bet. They experience something unique, they feel confortable they move from one device to the other without having to think about it. Enough of geekyness. They look for experience.
Those who build platforms, are the one to look for. Those who build experience on top of platform are the one who will win mindshare. This is the bottom line. Like Steve Jobs said, openness may be was good in the past but with smartphones and tablets to the masses, most couldn't care less because all their attention is on experiences.
Now it is your turn. What do you think of openness?