For traditional publishers, the Apple has been a blessing and a curse. On one hand, its iOS devices, including the iPad, have created hope and inspired thought about the future of publishing. On the other hand, it's clear that it is no savior.
It's not into charity either. Case in point: the 30% cut Apple demands from subscriptions sold in iOS apps. Begrudgingly, many publishers have agreed to this fee. But not all.
Apple's WWDC events are always big news, and yesterday was no exception.
Steve Jobs himself took to the stage as the company unveiled its first official
look at iOS 5, which is now available in beta to iOS Developer Program
This week, Apple achieved what may be one of its most impressive milestones to date. In the past three years, it has approved 500,000 iOS applications for entry into the App Store.
The App Store, of course, is the world's most popular 'app store.' Billions of iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch apps have been downloaded through it, generating billions of dollars in sales.
For developers hoping to hit the jackpot developing apps for smart phones and other portable devices, the App Store is almost always priority numero uno.
The numbers leave no doubt: when it comes to buying mobile apps,
consumers feel far more comfortable handing their money over to Apple
via the App Store.
A big reason for that is Apple's app approval
process, which, love it or hate it, arguably provides a much greater
level of quality assurance than is found in competing app stores, such
as Google's Android Market.
But despite Apple's often opaque approach to App Store rules, the iPhone developer ecosystem isn't exactly squeaky clean...
Some publishers believe that Apple may hold the key to a profitable
future. Thanks to the success of the company's iPad, for instance,
there's a lot of excitement amongst traditional publishers who have seen
their revenue from 'old' channels like print plummet. Some publishing
moguls, such as Rupert Murdoch, are so excited that they're investing
tens of millions of dollars in iPad publishing.
But previously, there was a huge barrier: a lack of an
Apple-sanctioned solution for selling subscriptions from within Apps.
That solution came yesterday, and it offers some things publishers will probably love, but a few things publishers will likely hate too.
It's no surprise that Amazon is launching an app store for Android. The ecommerce giant has come a long way since it started selling books online. Today, Amazon is rapidly evolving into a content company. And mobile apps are already a big part of the digital content business.
But despite Amazon's brand and size, there's no guarantee that it will become a successful player in the mobile app space. Apple is the 800 pound gorilla, and history isn't exactly conclusive when it comes to Amazon versus Apple. While Amazon's Kindle seems to be holding its own with the iPad, its MP3 store has hardly put a dent in the success of iTunes.
With the App Store, Apple has positioned itself as one of the most powerful players in digital content. Millions upon millions of customers now acquire everything from music to mobile apps through it.
But when it comes to Mac desktops and laptops, the App Store is irrelevant. Until now.
Are you ready to buy desktop applications through an app store? Apple thinks you are. In the next few months, it will roll out the Mac app store, which will let Mac owners purchase desktop software apps the same way iPhone owners purchase apps for their phone. And Microsoft has plans of its own for a Windows desktop software app store.
The big question: will the app store model work on the desktop? And is the desktop even a market worth targeting?
Not sure why Apple hasn't permitted your awesome iPad app in the App
Store? Worried about developing an iPhone app using anything but
Rejoice. Yesterday Apple made a major, unexpected announcement: it's
going to be providing official guidelines "to help developers understand
how we review submitted apps" and it's also easing restrictions on the
tools developers can employ when developing for the iPhone/iPad.
When Apple made it clear that apps created with Adobe's Flash Packager
for iPhone would not be permitted in the App Store, Steve Jobs had an
explanation: "We know from painful experience that letting a third
party layer of software come between the platform and the developer
ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and
progress of the platform."
Many, myself included, found Jobs' explanation to be somewhat
disingenuous. Tools that facilitate cross-platform development aren't necessarily responsible for bad code and poor software; bad development
practices and poorly-skilled developers almost always are.