The reason why Apple’s app ecosystem will give them a competitive advantage for years is the same reason why people are making and buying $20 text editors on the App Store.
It’s because Apple, Mac developers and Mac users share the same values.
More than two decades after they were first created, why in 2011 would developers be building new text editors? And who’s buying them for $20? Every single device that’s out there comes with a free text editor.
What’s going on?
I can’t say for certain why developers would invest their time into creating text editors. Maybe some do it because they love writing, some because they want to promote plain text, some may also be doing it because they aren’t happy with any the text editors that have been developed so far. The point is though that what they’re doing could only be done in Apple’s ecosystem.
Charging $20 for a text editor on Windows, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry, the Playbook etc… It wouldn’t work.
The Apple users who buy WriteRoom, Byword, Elements, iA Writer and many others aren’t just paying for a pretty text editor. Just like how people who spend $2000 on a designer coffee table aren’t just buying a pretty table. They’re buying the craft.
Craft may not be exactly what it is, but that’s what I’m going to go with for now.
The fact is the software they’re building connects with consumers, and that’s why people are buying it. Part of what’s connecting those developers and users is the same thing that brought them to the Mac in the first place.
This is how we start to see why Apple’s app ecosystem has been so successful. It’s because that connection is built on values that have defined Apple for the past 20 years.
Designing Software’s About Values
What I’m trying to say is that the reason why Apple has the benefit of a bigger app ecosystem is because for years before app stores even existed, they had a community of developers and designers that associated the Mac platform with crafting beautiful software.
Today’s Apple software ecosystem is built on values and is made up of a community of craft that’s been growing for the past twenty years.
With other companies, you get the feeling that developers became important to them only after those companies realized that their mobile platforms depended heavily on successful third party apps to be successful (and after Apple proved exactly that).
“Marketing’s about values.”
Whether you’re buying an app or building one, you are buying into those Apple values.
I’m not an authority on this as I don’t develop for the Mac and haven’t been a Mac user for more than 2 years really. So let me know if you think I’m wrong on this.