On the iPhone as a platform

A couple of thoughts on software expandability, vis a vis discussions about the iPhone. I agree that allowing third party developers to create applications for the iPhone would be fantastic. However, I think some of the criticisms leveled against the iPod as being a ‘closed platform’ are a bit unfounded.

Dave Winer says:

The iPod is a wonderful product, but damn it’s time we made one that could run our software, could run any software, so users have choice, and so you don’t have to buy new hardware to get software features, and so the market can grow at the rate of innovation, not at the whim of one marketer.

The iPod is a *music* platform, and in that case, it is completely open. Sure, buying songs from the iTunes Store includes proprietary DRM, but the iPod functions perfectly well with every popular music format you throw at it, sans DRM.

So for the thing the iPod was designed to do, it is an open platform. Look at the podcasting phenomenon. The iPod didn’t need to be an open software platform to enable that innovation.

I think (or hope) that when the iPhone is released, its perceived limitations as a software platform will likely reveal opportunities in the areas where it is open: music, video, internet and voice.

(these thoughts are my own and not my employer’s)

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