Apple’s lock-in works. Can anyone improve on App Store?

Timothy B Lee writes of the App Store/iPhone and now iPad lock-in:

The store is an unnecessary bottleneck in the app development process that limits the functionality of iPhone applications and discourages developers from adopting the platform.

While instinctively I agree, the evidence for the damaging effect of the App Store is not there. On the contrary, the locked-in iPhone has transformed the mobile app market and expanded it remarkably.

Reason: the user experience is great, the approval process at least weeds out apps that would be intrusive or harm performance, and installing an app from the store is less risky than installing an app onto Windows or OS X.

Ironically, Apple’s own iTunes is an example of an app that installs services you do not necessarily want or need. Personally I keep it off PCs and use a Mac Mini for gadgets that require it.

Is it possible to find a app distribution model that avoids the monopolistic and dictatorial model of App Store, but delivers an equally good user experience during and after purchase and installation?

A good question, but to my mind an open one.

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6 comments to Apple’s lock-in works. Can anyone improve on App Store?

  • Jordan Hubbard, Director of UNIX Technology at Apple, spoke at the LISA Conference this year to talk about some of the recent developments in the OS X operating system. There were many topics uncovered and discovered during this talk that were intriguingly exclusive, such as the Apple Syslog which is actually completely rewritten for OS X and has been open sourced on macosforge.org. Please look on this site http://www.thebitsource.com/2008/11/18/jordan-hubbard-on-mac-os-x-at-lisa-2008/

  • Carlos Gabriel Arpini

    First, I think it’s impossible to delivery secure applications to a platform without any kind of control. In the early days of P2P software was surprising download a file and get a sex or advertisement movie instead what you wanted. Now for many security reasons, Windows, OsX and all platforms warns you many times before you run an application that you downloaded from the web. The iPhone/iPad model is secure but it’s costs some liberty that most people are ready to pay.

    Second, it’s amazing how Google Ads works… bad. In this post, at the right side of the page, there is a advertisement of iPods clones made in China for just $35!

  • David Gunn

    JavaStore has a 30% class tax too, on Java Apps of $2 to $200.
    I think I’ll wait to see what Oracle branded products are announced through it. Charging over $20 for desktop products that are easy to reverse engineer doesn’t seem to make sense, but if its good enough for an Oracle database, then its good enough for me.

    Intel is also to have an Atom store.

  • How the heck can the store limit the functionality of apps? Ive read some tosh in my time but that takes the biscuit. The functionality is limited only by the SDK and the developers ability to code for it. No adoption of the platfom? There’s 140,000 apps developed by numerous developers that would disagree.

  • Flash

    They already did improve the app store, it’s called Cydia, also… Rock and Installer. The iphone is my first Apple product and will likely be my last. I can’t believe that Apple is so protectionist. The purpose of the lock-in is to prevent owners of the product from using features it is capable of possessing. Such as video recording (for 3G), tethering internet to PC (even wirelessly), and VOIP, which doesn’t sit well with AT&T who would see its customers using VOIP on there unlimited data plan iphones instead of using up their minutes.

    Apple intentionally locked features on the 3G in order to force us to upgrade to 3Gs. This is worse than anything Microsoft has done regarding protection of it’s platforms. At least Microsoft doesn’t dictate what software can be developed for the pc.

    Apple’s protectionist stance toward the iPhone is the very reason it will not be able to compete with google android based phones. Open platforms encourage developers to find new uses for the hardware in the device, making it more useful to the user. I will never buy a locked down phone again!!

    If all apple wanted to do was prevent malware from being distributed to phones via app download, they could have done that without preventing legitimate developers from adding features to their phone.

    I don’t know what the folks at apple are thinking, but they are squandering their first-to-market advantage by keeping me from tethering my internet. The only reason I haven’t sold my iPhone on ebay and cancelled my AT&T plan is because I can jailbreak my phone. As soon as Apple finds a way to stop me from that, Apple and At&t will both just be bad memories to me.

  • Flash

    Oh yeah, and why is there still no flash plug-in on iphone but there is one for android? Two Words – APPLE COMPUTERS

    I demand compatibility with .flv on the next phone I buy!