As a stockholder, I’m concerned about the command-n-control, draconian measures being exhibited by Apple around the iPhone and what that is doing to any semblance of an iPhone ecosystem. I’m also bored with a stock iPhone and was really enjoying what the ecosystem was delivering.
I also feel a push-pull: I have (thankfully) hung on to my stock for 15 years and have been well rewarded for that loyalty and have made a crapload of money off of the stock.
I have a unique perspective that concerns me about what I’m perceiving is a crushing of the energy and enthusiasm that comprises the iPhone ecosystem and how that is impacting future product launches, the current iPhone influencer base as well as any interest by developers going forward.
As I’ve written about previously, I was with a pre-Apple-salesforce manufacturer’s representative firm handling Apple in the days of the Apple II, Lisa and then the Macintosh. Even during the time that the IBM PC was gaining ground — which was ‘open’ so any third party could make boards, software and more for the box — Microsoft was beginning to execute on partnering in a way Steve Jobs has admittedly admired (see D Conference web site gives a summary/transcript and links to the various parts of an interview with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates).
One could argue that the #1 reason Microsoft has been so wildly successful and dominant is their development and courting of an ecosystem and the HUGE momentum by millions of people that were making a buck off the Microsoft space. With the latest release of the iPhone 1.1.1 update (which, while crossing my fingers, I just performed with success to my hacked iPhone), Apple has crushed any hacking which includes SIM unlocking and the development and delivery of any third party applications.
But maybe Apple had no choice? What data do we not have that could be influencing their decisions?
Almost every single (reasonably tech-savvy) person I know modified their iPhone (about 30 people I’ve talked to). I’ve been in four Apple stores in the last couple of months and have personally seen roughly 20 Apple retail employee’s iPhones which have been hacked (not the SIM unlock, but instead installed applications, wallpaper, ringtones and such).
Here’s what I think we don’t know:
- We know that the control mobile telephony companies enjoy in their respective markets globally is unprecedented in history. What did Apple have to agree to in their partner agreements so that they could maintain some balance and control when dealing with these near-monopolists? Without distribution in various countries for the iPhone, it would be dead in the water.
- How much of Apple’s iPhone business model is dependent upon ongoing revenues garnered from these exclusive partner agreements?
- With Wifi built-in to the iPhone, how long do you think it would be before a true VoIP application was delivered thus obviating the incentives mobile telephony providers have (selling mobile minutes, ringtones and SMS) and killing significant future revenues?
I think it’s a crime to charge $20 for unlimited text messaging per month. These teeny-tiny text strings go into a queue at the mobile telephony provider’s servers and delivered when possible. $.99 for a ringtone? Yes…it’s cheaper but again it’s still a joke when I can easily put any sound I want to on the device (and I have libraries of sound effects and the tools to make TONS of ringtones).
Like I said above, I’m bored with my stock iPhone and I’m bummed. There were several useful applications that I’m missing already and it’s only been a half an hour! Wired Gadget did this at-a-glance chart from this post that shows a hacked vs. Apple ‘official’ version:
So remember the iPhone launch, the excitement, the instant ecosystem that popped up and the blow-the-doors-off rush of momentum toward maximizing and optimizing this new device. Then consider how the 1.1.1 update has crushed the life out of the developer ecosystem and the almost instant $200 price drop sucked the energy and enthusiasm from the rest of us.
It’s too early to tell how this is all going to play out and only a perspective a year or two down the road will tell the tale. It just doesn’t feel right with all the available data I have now.