Apple has built up an enviable reputation for innovation and excellence in its whole spectrum of computing/smart devices. And it has been rewarded with dominant market shares in iPod+iTunes, iPhone+Appstore, and MacOS in the Web 2.0 and Graphics world. It also has garnered app development by thousands of developers for its iPhone and iPod line-up of devices. But there are some serious chinks appearing in the Apple armor in two areas. First, in the Mac Computer and MacBook market, the company continues to charge outsized premiums for its MacOS/X software+Desktop and/or laptop hardware. Typically the premiums are 2-3 times the equivalent PC package price [Walmart is selling a Toshiba L500 Satellite with 1.9GHz dual core CPU, 3GB memory, 250GB hard drive, 15.6″ screen for $498CA while a MacBook with 13″ Screen, 2.2GHZ dual core CPU, 2GB of memory and 160GB hard drive costs $1198CA].
The second and more serious problem is that Apple is starting to bite the thousands of developer and peripheral maker hands that feed the popularity of the the iPhone and iPod brands. There is the constant disbaling of syncing between Palm Pre and iPhones by programmatic API changes [which Palm promptly fixes] But nowhere are shortsighted skirmishes more evident than in this report from eWeek on the Google Voice fiasco on iPhone development. Now Apple has always had a mixed relations with developers. Many developers and 3rd party peripheral makers have been burned by the swiftness of the hardware [and consequent software] transitions between Lisa and Mac, Mac Motorola to Mac IBM Power PC, Mac IBM Power PC to Mac Intel chips. There has already been a fair degree of of unrest over the Apple control over approval and pricing of iPhone Apps. But the issue boiled over with the Google Voice ruling by Apple which appeared arbitrary. First, an OK and then a refusal and pulling of Google Voice based apps from the Appstore. The bad vides have echoes all over the gadget blogosphere. The eWeek article is one of the best summaries of what has happened. Now when you are battling the likes of Microsoft which a)is wounded by the fact that Apple has stolen the mindshare and numbers of developers that Redmond considers its privileged “developers, developers, developers” assets and b)is expert at attacking and exploiting any weakness of its competitors – Apple can ill afford a Google Voice or any other developer discouraging fiasco. Unfortunately I am not sanguine about Cupertino’s command chain being able to reverse these setbacks promptly and civilly.