Mar 17

The other smartphone vendors who have been working like crazy to catch up with Apple ever since the original introduction of the iPhone, were set back another year today with Apple’s preview of iPhone OS 3.0.

Some of the other touch-like phones currently available are actually not bad phones in themselves. But any smartphone today is compared with the iPhone, and that’s where they fall down. Palm who has recently gained some attention and interest for their Pre, will now face off with the iPhone 3.0 at their launch in June. You have probably already forgotten the shortcomings of the first iPhone software release. I can’t think of any smartphone vendor who has hit it out of the park with their 1.0 release. Now Apple has had two years and the help of 30 million customers to refine their software. “Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later.” Right.

Other blogs have covered the 100 new features of 3.0, so I will not rehash that information. And the 1,000 new API:s are covered by the NDA, so I can’t discuss them either. But I would like to emphasize the new business models. These changes are HUGE.

The initial App Store model only allowed single apps to be purchased for a one-time fee. This led to the proliferation of books as apps, and apps where it would be natural to purchase additional content but that was verboten. (We actually implemented mobile content purchases for iWallpaper, but Apple rejected it.) When asked at the time, Apple plainly stated that they did not have a solution for other business models.

Now they do. In spades.

  • The ability to purchase content separately from the app. Suddenly ebook readers on the iPhone make a whole lot more sense.
  • Subscription billing. Get continued access to a service (games, enterprise services), or receive new content on a regular basis (magazines, videos).
  • Make purchases from within applications. This feature alone probably added another $1B to the App Store business for Apple.

You have already seen a lot of content made available in the form of iPhone apps for the sole reason that you can easily charge money for it; unlike the web in general where everything is expected to be free. With these changes Apple will become the largest seller of digital products of all types. If you can digitize it, it will soon be available for sale in the App Store. (And why limit the store to iPhone clients? Sell information products for any computer. Notice that it’s not called the iPhone Store…)

Competitors have been scrambling to launch App Store clones, with one of the larger alternatives having just barely put payments in place. (Although, handling micropayments from mobile devices in 77 countries should not be belittled.) Now Apple lapped them again.

I’ll let other people continue to whine that “there really wasn’t that much unexpected” and that this was “Really pretty minor stuff“. You’ll have to excuse me, I have a dozen new apps to write that just became possible. And a few new business models to explore. This is going to be just as much fun as last year when the SDK was brand new!

written by Nick

3 Responses to “A Bad Day For Palm, RIM, Android, et. al.”

  1. Don Says:

    I agree with you 100 %. In fact, what we know is only the tip of the iceberg here. I believe that Apple is about to re-revolutionize the entire world of mobile and computer delivery content all over again, turning it on it’s head and making it very hard, if not impossible for any of Apple’s competitors to catch their breath, let alone catch up to what Apple has released with 3.0!

  2. John Says:

    3 months ago, I was in a meeting with developers talking about new game ideas. At the time I remember someone saying how it would be great to have a game controller that either tethers to the iphone on allows the iphone to dock onto it. Of course the engineers shot the idea down but now with the API support for peripheral devices that doesn’t sound so crazy anymore. Anyway, I agree with you that this announcement has the potential to be huge.

  3. Judith Says:

    It’s amazing how beautifully Apple once defined the lay of the land in the smartphone area, but what is even more impressive is how the company keeps generating heaps of new ideas, with the others throwing in the towels and putting up with the destiny of obediently trailing behind…

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