Over on CNet there is an article arguing that Apple is “ceding open-source app market to Google.” Just to get the obvious out of the way, I agree, Apple is handing over the open source app market to Google.
While there are many reasons open source developers are not focusing on the iPhone and Apple is not helping much, I think the bigger picture provides a good perspective on what is going on here. Apple is a control-oriented company. That is very at odds with open source, which lacks controls and fosters free creation of applications. A lack of control does not fit well with Apple’s model. Apple likes to be able to say which applications go on their phone. To some degree, that is a good thing, but how many killer apps have been denied access to the app store because they compete with Apple’s existing software? For the user, is that a good thing? Do you have access to the best available software?
In part, I would have to say that Apple’s control model has worked well for them. Their products are well made and show that someone had been putting it all together with great concern over the user experience. Some direction and structure is a good thing, but when it comes to suffocating the creative edge of individual developers or driving away competitors’ applications, one thing is clear – the end user gets the bad end of the deal.