Marco Arment: ‘Developers Don’t Rush to New Platforms’

Spot-on analysis from Marco Arment:

The problem is that hardware manufacturers and tech journalists assume that the hardware just needs to exist, and developers will flock to it because it’s possible to write software for it. But that’s not why we’re making iPhone and iPad software, yet those are the basis for the theory.

We’re making iPhone software primarily for three reasons:

  1. Dogfooding: We use iPhones ourselves.
  2. Installed base: A ton of other people already have iPhones.
  3. Profitability: There’s potentially a lot of money in iPhone apps.

It’s a classic chicken-vs.-egg bootstrapping problem. Developers adopt new platforms with lots of users; users buy into a new platform if it has a lot of developer support. So how can a new platform get off the ground? Apple got past this with the iPhone by making it so damn compelling and useful right from the start. Not only did that get users in line to buy it without any third-party software whatsoever, but it even got developers interested in writing native iPhone apps before the iPhone even went on sale, because developers wanted to write the sort of inspiring apps Apple itself had written (and shown off) for the original iPhone.

Friday, 5 November 2010