Apple's Master Plan (and why even fanboys should be scared)

Just sent this to my email list:

In this email
1. The Fallout from “The Case Against Apple”
2. Apple’s Master Plan (and why even fanboys should be scared)
3. Some free tickets to two events
4. A request for some help on a presentation

The Fallout
The feedback from the last email missive, “The Case Against Apple,”
has gotten a predictably large and passionate response. Excellent!
That’s my entire goal for doing this email newsletter: to create
discussions around issues I personally find important or interesting.

Now, some of you are starting to realize that this email newsletter is
a HUGE ploy for me to get smarter by doing 2% of the work associated
with solving big problems/issues. Well over 1,000 of the 16,000 of you
responded to the “Case Against Apple.” I’ve read about half of the
emails so far. You guys are teaching me 100x more than I’m teaching
you thanks to the asymmetrical nature of this medium.

If only I could post all your responses somewhere for the world to
see. Then again, you wouldn’t send in the brilliant stuff you do if I
did I suppose. Also, publishing your comments would diminish the
massive competitive advantage I’m getting by having all your
collective thoughts to myself! 🙂

Seriously, you guys are the best. After four months of writer’s block
you’ve inspired me to do back-to-back pieces about things we all care
about–first the Yahoo piece and now this one. My mind is super
engaged right now, and that’s when I’m happiest. When my mind is in
the middle of a really deep discussion and thought I’m on cloud
nine–how about you? In fact, sometimes after a full day at Mahalo I
go play poker for another five hours just to relax my brain. This
email newsletter serves the same purpose: you guys exhaust my brain so
I can sleep.

Now, in response to the piece well over 95% of you responded that
Apple was acting too closed and should, for market opportunities
alone, open up their platforms. One person got really upset because he
loves Apple products and unsubscribed, saying that I had taken things
too far. I begged him not to, but alas my pleas were for naught. How
will I ever survive?

Many folks pointed out, correctly, a number of flaws in my missive
including the fact that iTunes openness vs. Windows is not really
correct (or Apples to Apples–so to speak). The correct metaphor would
be the Zune’s media store vs. Apple’s. I stand corrected, but I still
believe that Apple should make an open API to iTunes and let folks
plug in whatever player they like.

A number of folks added that Flash not being available on the iPhone
was a really anticompetitive issue. I haven’t researched that issue
too deeply, but I would of course love some Flash on both my
Blackberry and iPhone. When will the Flash issue on Blackberry and
iPhone be solved anyway? Does anyone have inside information on this
that I can share with the list?

The most fascinating part of the discussion to me were the technology
people who were fighting for less choice. Now, they are not fighting
for less choice in some greed-is-great Ayn Rand kind of way. No, these
lost souls are arguing that users are not savvy enough to make choices
for themselves and that Apple’s core mission of stability trumps
openness. This is, of course, a red herring.

Apple’s open when it benefits them (i.e. on the desktop), and closed
when it benefits them (i.e. the iPod and iPhone). Apple is more than
willing, and in fact excited, to have multiple browsers developed for
their desktop computers, but God forgive the poor soul who puts a
second browser on their iPhone!

2. Apple’s Master Plan (and why even fanboys should be scared)
What we’re seeing right now is the fight for the next desktop: the
mobile desktop. If Apple wins the fight for the mobile desktop–and
they are off to a great start–it will set the industry back decades.
We’ve fought and fought as an industry to make open platforms
connected to an open network.

Now Apple is trying to control the platform, applications and network
simply to line their own pockets. While you Ayn Rand-ers are busy
slapping high-fives, let me remind the rest of you that competition
and open platforms are better for consumers on all levels–from
pricing to performance. It is only in the short term that we benefit
from closed systems.

You want proof of how important this issues is? Well, according to
everyone Apple will produce a new line of netbooks/tablets in a couple
of months that are somewhere between the size of an iPhone and a
laptop. When this device comes to market what operating system do you
think it will run: Mac OS X desktop or the iPhone’s OS?


This decision will be the ultimate tell for Steve Jobs. If Apple puts
the iPhone’s OS on this device it’s clear the direction he is going.

Is Apple working *backwards* from the closed iPhone up to netbooks,
media players and tablets? Is this just the start? Some day in order
to put software on your laptop or desktop you might have to go through
the App Store. Oh yeah, you might not be able to use Opera and Firefox
on your desktop any more. Oh yeah, and if Steve Jobs thinks the Flash
player isn’t as stable as his competitor to it, well, Flash might not
be supported in the new version of Safari.

There are features in HTML 5 that some say with QuickTime could
replace Flash features. Blocking Flash on Apple’s iPhone is certainly
a boost for Apple’s game business on the iPhone (i.e. you can’t play
bejewled in Flash on your iPhone–but you can buy Bejeweled 2 in the
App Store for $2.99).

This probably seems totally illogical to the Apple fanboys–heck it
feels illogical to me! However the fanboys are so drunk on the Kool
Aid that there is a good chance that they will just go along for the
ride. “Sure, lock down my tablet… why should I care?”

The rest of us? Well, it’s really up to us to make it very clear to
Apple that we don’t like the direction they are going in.

Freedom for our generation starts at our keyboards, flows through our
computers and phones, and then on to the internet. Anyone who tries to
limit your freedoms in that process is the enemy–even if they produce
the best products available right now.

all the best,


(Housekeeping stuff follows)

3. Some tickets for you!
As part of the arrangement for me speaking at events we’ve asked
producers of the conferences to provide us with tickets so that
members of the Jason Nation can “roll deep” with me. Translations: we
got free tickets for the members of this list to expensive conferences
by being heavy handed. 🙂

We have eight tickets to the DigiDayApps conference in New York City
this Wednesday, August 12th. I’m giving the lunch keynote on “the Ten
best applications that haven’t been built yet.” Details at If you would like to request a free $495
ticket to this event please send an email to tickets@
with “digidayapps for yourname” in the subject line. We will pick
eight people at random to join us.

We have ten tickets to the in San Jose on
Thursday, August 13th (yes, I’m racing from NYC to SJ for that
event!). I will be doing a fireside chat with Jeremy, the CEO of Really excited about this. If you would like to be
considered for one of the ten free tickets to this event simple email
tickets@ with “localsearchsummit for yourname” in the
subject line.

4. What are the ten best iPhone/Facebook apps that haven’t been made yet?
At my talk on Wednesday I’m going to run down the top applications for
the iPhone, MySpace and Facebook that haven’t been built yet. If you
have funny or clever ideas to share please help me out by sending to
jason@ and ccing with the subject line of
“10 Apps ideas.” Really appreciate your ideas/help on this one!

10 thoughts on “Apple's Master Plan (and why even fanboys should be scared)

  1. You pose a lot of questions, but where are the answers? What is a good business model for a company that allows complete interaction? Are you just going to allow anybody to make games for the Wii? Would you charge a royalty then? Many technologies such as the PS3 & xbox rely on the profits made from game and accessory sales so that they can sell the hardware at such a low rate. Kindle generates money from book sales, cell phones generate money from cell plan sales, etc. So how are you going to convince people to purchase a more expensive product in order to compete with the profits of those who sell a closed product? Ie: network vs unlocked cell phones Do you sell api licenses to small graphic card manufactures for less (like a handicap in golf) than nvidia in order to generate competition? How could you do so without throwing the free market of supply/demand off balance? Secondly, how do you convince manufactures to stay in an open format when businesses such as Apple are showing such great innovation and success in a closed format? And finally, how can we convince consumers to stay strong in their ideologies instead of caving in just to do the popular thing and purchase the next great product such as everyone does every time a new ipod/phone comes out. Great post btw!

  2. Jason, I agree that Apple has gone nuts; and being in bed with AT and T could only be worse if it were Canada and Bell…Rogers being only slightly better. Goog shows the way with open standards and they wwill win the day…won’t they….

    Great listening to you and Leo on TWIT!

  3. “What we’re seeing right now is the fight for the next desktop: the
    mobile desktop. If Apple wins the fight for the mobile desktop–and
    they are off to a great start–it will set the industry back decades.
    We’ve fought and fought as an industry to make open platforms
    connected to an open network.”

    Assuming mobile means apps, you’re spot on, but the question here is how long will apps trump Web? Apple is doing a commendable job with Safari to cultivate Web standards and, unless they kill this initiative or prevent Web access through the browser (and there is absolutely no way they’d get away with that, not for a minute), the ability to get open standards based apps on iPhone is not at all hindered (not having Flash is a boon to this movement, as it promotes innovation the likes of which you allude to when discussing HTML5).

    In the end, if Apple continues to impose limitations on the App store, I believe they’re going to lose the app market to the browser. And why would they let this happen when they can’t monetize the browser in the same way they can monetize the App store? (Again, other than limiting browser access, which would cause an uproar and fallout the likes of which we can’t begin to comprehend.)

    I expect that the App store policies will shift dramatically towards open once AT&T exclusivity is up, as they’ll be able to leverage their sales track record and consequent interest from other carriers into continued (though limited) profit sharing, bolstered by increased App store sales. If they don’t go this route, and choose instead to continue to limit app access, they’re going to have serious issues ahead with consumers and, more importantly, with developers. There’s too much competition in the mobile space, as quiet as it’s been, for them to alienate developers and piss off consumers.

  4. “When will the Flash issue on Blackberry and iPhone be solved anyway? Does anyone have inside information on this that I can share with the list?”

    I don’t have inside info, only public info.

    Adobe’s goal is to make it easier to publish rich media anywhere, on any device. Last year Adobe re-org’d to develop a common Flash Player across laptop, mobile, and wall display… we should see the first models towards the end of this year, with volume starting in 2010. Here’s the starting-point:

    For specific brands (such as iPhone or Blackberry) it’s harder for me to say, because product announcements belong to the manufacturers themselves rather than to the makers of common enabling technology. Adobe has publicly confirmed that we’re doing the engineering work on iPhone, although there’s no info yet as to whether a browser plugin will be permitted by the manufacturer. Blackberry is a little less clear, in part because of the Java reliance:

    Summary: No news on those specific two devices, sorry, but Adobe’s goal is to get Flash working on them all.

    tx, jd/adobe

  5. Today Flash is application development platform (byte code interpreter for ActionScript byte code + class libary) similar to Java/JavaFX and .Net/Silverlight.

    Supporting Flash (and Java and .Net) on the iPhone would open a possibility for user to circumvent the AppStore and use every application they want without any vetoing by Apple (and without paying anything to Apple)

    The next version of Quicktime will support playback of Flash videos (FLV files).

    I don’t think that Apple should open up iTunes for 3rd party player but rather open their iPods so that they can be used with (most of the time better) 3rd party software. This would allow me to get rid of the crappy iTunes application. Good.

    And then there is this general misconception that Apple is creating general purpose computers and phones. Wrong. Their products are more similar to the Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, etc. – i.e. they are actually building game consoles for people with wide pockets in their midlife crisis. That’s why the

Leave a Reply