This is so obvious, I’m surprised I didn’t think of it until today.
There is Steve Jobs, sitting with his iPad. He is pondering all the things that makes it special. He is very proud of his creation (as he should be, setting aside his 30% vig).
What he is most proud of is that he has created an experience.
Because that’s what all the iOS devices are at their core: experiences.
He has transcended the surly bonds of mechanics and imbued machines with emotion.
But as he thinks about all this, he remembers that there are competitors coming. From Android tablets, from that goddammed webOS tablet (why didn’t he see HP would buy them?).
All of those goddammed competitors will be good enough for many people. They can do blogging on them, they can look up maps, they can do Twitter, and all those others things.
Many of the things they’ll be doing wouldn’t even exist if he, Steve Jobs, hadn’t given the world the iPhone first.
The iPhone was the seed that unleashed everyone’s creativity. Goddam it, he’s owed — no, entitled to — more than 30% for showing them all The Way.
Why should all of those other inferior tablets cash in?
Why should they have the same apps?
Wait a minute.
Why should they have the same apps?
Why can’t Apple’s iOS devices be the only one to have to those apps?
And that’s when it all comes together in Steve Jobs’ greedy mind: Exclusivity.
The Developer Agreement is changed.
Remember how iPhone apps were rejected due to “duplicating the functionality” of the iPhone?
Insert new Agreement clause: For any app that you submit to run on iOS, you may not duplicate its functionality on any other operating system platform.
Go ahead and scream and/or laugh in disbelief.
This is what’s coming.
It’s the last card that Apple can play to keep its edge against competitors.
Apple will have an overwhelming device population lead over all other competitors and the Apple PR machine will be sure to crank out glowing Got Rich Quick stories about developers. (Did you think all of the Apple iPhone leaks during Mobile World Conference this week were a coincidence?)
Developers will believe that being exclusively on iOS will be money in the bank.
Never mind that they’ll have to compete against 350,000 then 400,000, then 500,000 other apps.
Why, they’ll have eighty, ninety, maybe over a hundred million potential iOS customers!
Why, if we as developers can just get one per cent of people to pay … (see Guy Kawasaki’s 10 Lies Entrepreneurs Tell, number 10!)
But wait! There’s more!
Aside from granting Apple exclusivity, Apple will want an option clause.
Ask any writer what an option clause is and you’ll get screamed at about things like indentured servitude. It will not be a happy experience for you. I personally know how an option clause can strangle you to death. And I will scream at you for free.
The option clause: In exchange for developing exclusively for iOS, you agree to provide Apple with the right of first refusal of your next application.
In other words, spend months making the next app only for Apple and then hope to God it’s not capriciously rejected.
Wait. You know, that sounds just like today!
And when Apple does reject your app — after delay, delay, delay (that’s how option clauses work!) — you will most likely be too damned late to port it over to Android or webOS because those platforms have developers just as hungry as you — and will move to market just as fast as you.
I’m telling you right now, this is your future.
Apple will want experience exclusivity — and the only way to get that is through app exclusivity.
So all of you developers had better start thinking about where your loyalties are.
Are they to an open and free market — or do you just go after what you’re (mis-)led to believe is “easy money” and wind up cutting your own throat and everyone else’s throats?
Exclusivity is the next thing.
It’s how Hollywood operates.
It’s how publishing operates.
It’s how every industry that relies on talent operates.
And soon it will be the way Apple operates.
Prepare for that dark day.