“Three years ago, the first people to order an Apple iPod – announced as a ‘breakthrough digital device’ on 23 October 2001 – started receiving boxes in the post. Inside were the first models: the white packet-shape that’s now familiar, with a five-gigabyte hard drive – enough for 1,000 songs,” Charles Arthur writes for The Independent.
“Since then, six million have been sold. The newest iPods can store up to 60 Gbytes and display photos, while the product has become a cultural icon, synonymous with ‘digital music player’. Apple commands 90 per cent of the hard-drive player market, and more than 60 per cent of the digital music player market (including cheaper flash memory-based players, which have less storage),” Arthur writes.
“So the question commentators ask is: how soon will Microsoft crush that market share to single digits, as happened with the personal computer market? A more interesting question, asked by software developers who see those six million iPods as an untapped market for a new breed of applications, is: when will Apple open up the iPod platform to other software? I think the answer to these two questions is interlinked: the sooner Apple does the second, the less likely the first will happen; but the longer it delays the second, the more likely the first becomes,” Arthur writes.
“All Apple has to do is publicise the application programming interfaces its teams use to write programs, such as Breakout, Solitaire, Contacts and Calendar for the iPod. But will it? Not soon. Danika Cleary, the head of worldwide iPod product marketing, told me in London last week that the debate has surfaced repeatedly within Apple. ‘But our stance is that right now [the iPod is] very simple and it works the same for everyone,’ she says. ‘We have decided to keep it closed. And basic,” Arthur writes.
“Why? ‘Essentially, it’s a music player,’ she says. ‘We don’t want to spoil the experience.’ Clearly the worry within Apple is that outside programs might mess up the working of the machine – and that Apple would get the blame. Microsoft is familiar with this: Windows is often blamed for glitches that are down to badly written (or just malicious) outside programs,” Arthur writes. “Without becoming a platform, the iPod won’t achieve long-term dominance (say, over five or 10 years) even while keeping sizeable market share. But there’s still time for Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, to change his mind.”
Full article, with much more such as why not opening the iPod to other music stores and WMA is not comparable to Apple’s decision to keep Mac OS to itself instead of licensing it way back when, and more here.