iPhone and greed

Ken Ollin is wondering if the biggest innovation in the iPhone is greed. At least, that’s the catchy title of his blog post.

What he’s really questioning is why the iPhone is a closed garden instead of an open software development ecosystem.

In response, of course, eager Mac users have responded with the usual flood of comments to anyone who questions Apple – mostly making good points about the software development kit that will be coming out in February or so.

But Ken’s post is still valuable, as I commented on his post:

A lot of people have made good points in the comments. The SDK, etc.

But … let’s not lose sight of the point (even if we are Mac fans – and I’m one too.)

The point is that the ecosystem is more important than an individual piece of software or hardware – and any individual company. This is the key insight that initially won Microsoft the operating system war, and losing this insight is what is costing Microsoft today.

The point for Apple: cultivate the ecosystem. The returns are huge multiples of what the closed garden generates. Apple is likely moving in this direction with the SDK.

But here’s why commentary like this is valuable: the ecosystem approach is not in Apple’s DNA. Apple *is* learning it, but true-blue Apple SOP is to go it alone.

An occasional reminder is a good thing for Apple – and a good thing for all of us who love Apple products and software and ethos.