Anyone could develop software to run under Windows, but only software approved by Apple can run on its iDevices – which is why the software giant Adobe is so threatened by having its Flash animation program banned by Steve Jobs. In addition, Apple takes a 30% cut on every “approved” program that is sold. Microsoft, in contrast, was never able to levy a tax on developers selling Windows-compatible software. So while Bill Gates and co prospered mightily from their dominance of the market, other people prospered too – to the point where Microsoft claims that for every dollar it makes from Windows 7, other companies earn $18.52, and predicts that this ecosystem will sell “more than $320bn in products and services revolving around Windows 7”.
In contrast, the ecosystem based around Apple seems, well, puny. It includes all those people making chic cases for iPods and iPhones, the thousands of developers writing apps, the record labels taking their rake-off from iTunes songs, the audio manufacturers making yet another docking station for iPods, and so on ad infinitum. It’s not negligible, but it’s not industrially significant either. And it all goes to show that, in the Apple economy, only Apple gets really rich. Watch out, Exxon.
Nature does not like or grant monopolies. Monopolies fail.