Why Microsoft outplays Apple long term

Gang at iPhoneDevCamp

OK, let me set the scene here. Three weeks ago this event didn’t exist. 300 developers are here in San Francisco. All voluntarily. All organized themselves.

I’ve already met a Microsoft employee. A Yahoo employee. A Verisign employee.

But where’s the Apple employees?

Here are 300 developers who WANT to help Apple make its iPhone even better. Yet Apple’s secrecy and lack of care for developers demonstrates itself by not showing up.

Apple should remember 1989. It had a massive lead with the Macintosh. It ended up with, what, five percent market share.

Why? At least in part because it told developers to go pound sand.

History is repeating itself.

This is a VERY geeky room. Developers only (I’m one of only a handful of people who aren’t a developer here).

Watch Flickr for photos from the event
.

Watch Twitters from the event. I’ll put up some TwitterGrams (short, recorded audio pieces sent to Twitter) shortly.

If you’re a developer you’ll want to be at this event. It’s a remarkable event already. The conversations here are flowing big time. I haven’t seen this kind of developer energy for a long time.

Where’s Apple? Microsoft is here.

If this were a Microsoft event the evangelism team would be here in force with T-shirts, stickers, free dev tools, tons of geeks who could help people figure out technical issues, and more. Look at how Microsoft dealt with Maker Faire, they sent the guy who builds Bill Gates’ keynote demos to help out. THAT is how Microsoft got 90% market share.

Where’s Apple?

UPDATE: John Dowdell notes that there may be a few Apple employees there, but they aren’t telling anyone they are from Apple. That changes his opinion of Apple, for the worse.

337 thoughts on “Why Microsoft outplays Apple long term

  1. The iPhone is activated through iTunes because tens of millions of users on Mac OS X and Windows already use it. Yes, they use it for their iPods, but it’s pretty clear that syncing calendar and contacts data is also something else it can do.

    I would argue that the iPhone is being marketed to consumers, but it’s not a consumer device. It runs OS X, which is by no means a consumer operating system. If you’ve used an iPhone, it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that this is a high end device, not a consumer cell phone with a nice UI and a browser. I get it that unless it talks natively to an Exchange server, it won’t be considered a real business device, but we know that’s coming, plus lots of other enhancements.

  2. The iPhone is activated through iTunes because tens of millions of users on Mac OS X and Windows already use it. Yes, they use it for their iPods, but it’s pretty clear that syncing calendar and contacts data is also something else it can do.

    I would argue that the iPhone is being marketed to consumers, but it’s not a consumer device. It runs OS X, which is by no means a consumer operating system. If you’ve used an iPhone, it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that this is a high end device, not a consumer cell phone with a nice UI and a browser. I get it that unless it talks natively to an Exchange server, it won’t be considered a real business device, but we know that’s coming, plus lots of other enhancements.

  3. Robert, all you did was list even more places you heard about Mac development from someone else and it’s all to do with Mac development in the late 80s/early 90s. So I’m going to ask you these two questions:

    1. Do you have any experience of software development on the Mac since 2001?
    2. Do you have any FIRST HAND experience of software development on the Mac at all?

  4. Robert, all you did was list even more places you heard about Mac development from someone else and it’s all to do with Mac development in the late 80s/early 90s. So I’m going to ask you these two questions:

    1. Do you have any experience of software development on the Mac since 2001?
    2. Do you have any FIRST HAND experience of software development on the Mac at all?

  5. Robert, all you did was list even more places you heard about Mac development from someone else and it’s all to do with Mac development in the late 80s/early 90s. So I’m going to ask you these two questions:

    1. Do you have any experience of software development on the Mac since 2001?
    2. Do you have any FIRST HAND experience of software development on the Mac at all?

  6. Robert, all you did was list even more places you heard about Mac development from someone else and it’s all to do with Mac development in the late 80s/early 90s. So I’m going to ask you these two questions:

    1. Do you have any experience of software development on the Mac since 2001?
    2. Do you have any FIRST HAND experience of software development on the Mac at all?

  7. Robert, all you did was list even more places you heard about Mac development from someone else and it’s all to do with Mac development in the late 80s/early 90s. So I’m going to ask you these two questions:

    1. Do you have any experience of software development on the Mac since 2001?
    2. Do you have any FIRST HAND experience of software development on the Mac at all?

  8. Robert, all you did was list even more places you heard about Mac development from someone else and it’s all to do with Mac development in the late 80s/early 90s. So I’m going to ask you these two questions:

    1. Do you have any experience of software development on the Mac since 2001?
    2. Do you have any FIRST HAND experience of software development on the Mac at all?

  9. @100 Michael
    I agree with you. Robert seems to want the iPhone to be an uber PDA appliance. Based on the way Apple is handling this, I’d bet that Jobs views it as a video iPod with a phone and a browser.

    I don’t own an iPod, and I don’t plan to buy an iPhone. Those are consumer devices and have no appeal to me. No amount of ‘cool factor’ is going to change that for me.

    Why is the phone activated through iTunes? It’s an iPod.

  10. @100 Michael
    I agree with you. Robert seems to want the iPhone to be an uber PDA appliance. Based on the way Apple is handling this, I’d bet that Jobs views it as a video iPod with a phone and a browser.

    I don’t own an iPod, and I don’t plan to buy an iPhone. Those are consumer devices and have no appeal to me. No amount of ‘cool factor’ is going to change that for me.

    Why is the phone activated through iTunes? It’s an iPod.

  11. @100 Michael
    I agree with you. Robert seems to want the iPhone to be an uber PDA appliance. Based on the way Apple is handling this, I’d bet that Jobs views it as a video iPod with a phone and a browser.

    I don’t own an iPod, and I don’t plan to buy an iPhone. Those are consumer devices and have no appeal to me. No amount of ‘cool factor’ is going to change that for me.

    Why is the phone activated through iTunes? It’s an iPod.

  12. Al,

    I think that in the next year or so a couple of companies are going to try to make an “iPhone compatible” mobile OS platform. IOW, we’ll see companies like Palm and Symbian scrambling to bring up WebKit-based browsers. They won’t be as good as an iPhone, but they’ll probably be far cheaper.

  13. Al,

    I think that in the next year or so a couple of companies are going to try to make an “iPhone compatible” mobile OS platform. IOW, we’ll see companies like Palm and Symbian scrambling to bring up WebKit-based browsers. They won’t be as good as an iPhone, but they’ll probably be far cheaper.

  14. Al,

    I think that in the next year or so a couple of companies are going to try to make an “iPhone compatible” mobile OS platform. IOW, we’ll see companies like Palm and Symbian scrambling to bring up WebKit-based browsers. They won’t be as good as an iPhone, but they’ll probably be far cheaper.

  15. History certainly isn’t repeating itself. Apple not being at this event has absolutely no bearing on the future of the iPhone. The assumption that you need hundreds or thousands of applications for the iPhone to be successful is certainly 90′s-style thinking. So is thinking that unless thousands of developers get a real SDK, the iPhone won’t be successful.

    Apple doesn’t do lowest common denominator platforms. That’s been Microsoft’s business strategy since the DOS days. If you haven’t noticed, the industry is shifting away from this.

    Apple intentionally doesn’t play in this space–they build a lowest common denominator platform and license it to lots of folks and let any developer do whatever they want. Sure, they could sell lots of hardware that way, but the user experience would be lost.

    Yes, it was hard back in the 80′s to develop Mac software, mainly because developers were used to doing text-based apps on DOS machines and dealing with a GUI was still foreign to many of them. It was much easier to create a text app than a GUI app then. It wasn’t until Microsoft learned how to create a GUI-based operating system by developing for the Macintosh (Multiplan, Word and later, Excel) did creating a GUI app become standard.

    Apple is a very clever company–it’s not coincidence that we now have Safari running on three platforms and Apple is really pushing AJAX/Web 2.0, which is pretty open. Get developers used to the challenges and constraints of doing web-based iPhone apps before they do a real SDK.

    Lets talk in a year about marketshare numbers regarding the iPhone and the rest of the industry. As cool as the dev camp probably was, Apple has already turned the cell phone industry upside down–without a single vertical market app or SDK. Microsoft’s lowest common denominator strategy is a relic that will continue to fail in market after market. It already has with music and video; it will with cell phones.

  16. History certainly isn’t repeating itself. Apple not being at this event has absolutely no bearing on the future of the iPhone. The assumption that you need hundreds or thousands of applications for the iPhone to be successful is certainly 90′s-style thinking. So is thinking that unless thousands of developers get a real SDK, the iPhone won’t be successful.

    Apple doesn’t do lowest common denominator platforms. That’s been Microsoft’s business strategy since the DOS days. If you haven’t noticed, the industry is shifting away from this.

    Apple intentionally doesn’t play in this space–they build a lowest common denominator platform and license it to lots of folks and let any developer do whatever they want. Sure, they could sell lots of hardware that way, but the user experience would be lost.

    Yes, it was hard back in the 80′s to develop Mac software, mainly because developers were used to doing text-based apps on DOS machines and dealing with a GUI was still foreign to many of them. It was much easier to create a text app than a GUI app then. It wasn’t until Microsoft learned how to create a GUI-based operating system by developing for the Macintosh (Multiplan, Word and later, Excel) did creating a GUI app become standard.

    Apple is a very clever company–it’s not coincidence that we now have Safari running on three platforms and Apple is really pushing AJAX/Web 2.0, which is pretty open. Get developers used to the challenges and constraints of doing web-based iPhone apps before they do a real SDK.

    Lets talk in a year about marketshare numbers regarding the iPhone and the rest of the industry. As cool as the dev camp probably was, Apple has already turned the cell phone industry upside down–without a single vertical market app or SDK. Microsoft’s lowest common denominator strategy is a relic that will continue to fail in market after market. It already has with music and video; it will with cell phones.

  17. History certainly isn’t repeating itself. Apple not being at this event has absolutely no bearing on the future of the iPhone. The assumption that you need hundreds or thousands of applications for the iPhone to be successful is certainly 90′s-style thinking. So is thinking that unless thousands of developers get a real SDK, the iPhone won’t be successful.

    Apple doesn’t do lowest common denominator platforms. That’s been Microsoft’s business strategy since the DOS days. If you haven’t noticed, the industry is shifting away from this.

    Apple intentionally doesn’t play in this space–they build a lowest common denominator platform and license it to lots of folks and let any developer do whatever they want. Sure, they could sell lots of hardware that way, but the user experience would be lost.

    Yes, it was hard back in the 80′s to develop Mac software, mainly because developers were used to doing text-based apps on DOS machines and dealing with a GUI was still foreign to many of them. It was much easier to create a text app than a GUI app then. It wasn’t until Microsoft learned how to create a GUI-based operating system by developing for the Macintosh (Multiplan, Word and later, Excel) did creating a GUI app become standard.

    Apple is a very clever company–it’s not coincidence that we now have Safari running on three platforms and Apple is really pushing AJAX/Web 2.0, which is pretty open. Get developers used to the challenges and constraints of doing web-based iPhone apps before they do a real SDK.

    Lets talk in a year about marketshare numbers regarding the iPhone and the rest of the industry. As cool as the dev camp probably was, Apple has already turned the cell phone industry upside down–without a single vertical market app or SDK. Microsoft’s lowest common denominator strategy is a relic that will continue to fail in market after market. It already has with music and video; it will with cell phones.

  18. So, Robert: people take you to task for having basically no coding cred at all, and you try to counter that with having worked on magazines and hanging out with Bill Atkinson, and Dan’l Lewin (who, as it happens, isn’t a software developer).

    Let’s cut to the chase: show us any CODE you’ve written.

  19. So, Robert: people take you to task for having basically no coding cred at all, and you try to counter that with having worked on magazines and hanging out with Bill Atkinson, and Dan’l Lewin (who, as it happens, isn’t a software developer).

    Let’s cut to the chase: show us any CODE you’ve written.

  20. anona @93: “And she’s angling for a job at Apple? Coincidence? You be the judge.

    I’ve been unemployed since 1998–I’m angling for a gig with ANYONE! ;-) (hey, I’ve been told Starbucks gives benefits to baristas…).

    But that won’t stop me from speaking bluntly about how I see things. I’ve been blogging since 1999 and given that I’ve got years of online opinions, it’s too late for me to suddenly start playing nice.

  21. anona @93: “And she’s angling for a job at Apple? Coincidence? You be the judge.

    I’ve been unemployed since 1998–I’m angling for a gig with ANYONE! ;-) (hey, I’ve been told Starbucks gives benefits to baristas…).

    But that won’t stop me from speaking bluntly about how I see things. I’ve been blogging since 1999 and given that I’ve got years of online opinions, it’s too late for me to suddenly start playing nice.

  22. Martin: you’re funny. I was using a Mac back in 1988 and was quoted in MacWorld magazine back in 1992. That was all before I switched to Windows.

    You also must have missed some other key things in my life. I befriended Steve Wozniak back in 1989 and talked him out of $40,000 for our journalism department. I also sold cameras to MANY Apple developers and executives. Including Jean-Louis Gassée, who, many years later personally remembers me. He told me lots of things about Apple development.

    You might have missed that last week in line I spent hours with Bill Atkinson. Apple’s first software developer. He told me all sorts of stuff about Apple.

    I also worked with Dan’l Lewin, who co-founded NeXT with Steve Jobs. He now works at Microsoft and told me a lot about why Microsoft beat NeXT and Apple in the developer markets.

    I could go on…

  23. Martin: you’re funny. I was using a Mac back in 1988 and was quoted in MacWorld magazine back in 1992. That was all before I switched to Windows.

    You also must have missed some other key things in my life. I befriended Steve Wozniak back in 1989 and talked him out of $40,000 for our journalism department. I also sold cameras to MANY Apple developers and executives. Including Jean-Louis Gassée, who, many years later personally remembers me. He told me lots of things about Apple development.

    You might have missed that last week in line I spent hours with Bill Atkinson. Apple’s first software developer. He told me all sorts of stuff about Apple.

    I also worked with Dan’l Lewin, who co-founded NeXT with Steve Jobs. He now works at Microsoft and told me a lot about why Microsoft beat NeXT and Apple in the developer markets.

    I could go on…

  24. Martin: you’re funny. I was using a Mac back in 1988 and was quoted in MacWorld magazine back in 1992. That was all before I switched to Windows.

    You also must have missed some other key things in my life. I befriended Steve Wozniak back in 1989 and talked him out of $40,000 for our journalism department. I also sold cameras to MANY Apple developers and executives. Including Jean-Louis Gassée, who, many years later personally remembers me. He told me lots of things about Apple development.

    You might have missed that last week in line I spent hours with Bill Atkinson. Apple’s first software developer. He told me all sorts of stuff about Apple.

    I also worked with Dan’l Lewin, who co-founded NeXT with Steve Jobs. He now works at Microsoft and told me a lot about why Microsoft beat NeXT and Apple in the developer markets.

    I could go on…

  25. Robert, I notice in your qualifications you didn’t mention a single bit about anything to do with Mac development, let alone OS X development, which is an entirely different ball game. Try actually looking at what Apple offers before you start making your comments. If you want real credibility you’ll research before posting and just say you don’t know when you haven’t had experience with something. Trying to paint what you have been told by others as your own experience is bad. Do I make a large number of comments about Windows development? No, because I don’t have a huge amount of experience with Windows development. My comments on developer relations with MS are largely based on their allowing staff blogs and an open bug database (two things that developers would love Apple to do).

    That said, I see nothing worthwhile on Windows development wise that would make me switch from being a Mac developer. It’s just too hard to be successful as an indie on Windows compared to the Mac

  26. Robert, I notice in your qualifications you didn’t mention a single bit about anything to do with Mac development, let alone OS X development, which is an entirely different ball game. Try actually looking at what Apple offers before you start making your comments. If you want real credibility you’ll research before posting and just say you don’t know when you haven’t had experience with something. Trying to paint what you have been told by others as your own experience is bad. Do I make a large number of comments about Windows development? No, because I don’t have a huge amount of experience with Windows development. My comments on developer relations with MS are largely based on their allowing staff blogs and an open bug database (two things that developers would love Apple to do).

    That said, I see nothing worthwhile on Windows development wise that would make me switch from being a Mac developer. It’s just too hard to be successful as an indie on Windows compared to the Mac

  27. Robert, I notice in your qualifications you didn’t mention a single bit about anything to do with Mac development, let alone OS X development, which is an entirely different ball game. Try actually looking at what Apple offers before you start making your comments. If you want real credibility you’ll research before posting and just say you don’t know when you haven’t had experience with something. Trying to paint what you have been told by others as your own experience is bad. Do I make a large number of comments about Windows development? No, because I don’t have a huge amount of experience with Windows development. My comments on developer relations with MS are largely based on their allowing staff blogs and an open bug database (two things that developers would love Apple to do).

    That said, I see nothing worthwhile on Windows development wise that would make me switch from being a Mac developer. It’s just too hard to be successful as an indie on Windows compared to the Mac

  28. LayZ: did I say I could develop? No. I said I knew what developers wanted because I hang with them. Over and over yesterday people came up to me at the iPhoneDevCamp and said “you’re right, where’s Apple?”

    I’m just the messenger here and I AM qualified to be that messenger.

  29. LayZ: did I say I could develop? No. I said I knew what developers wanted because I hang with them. Over and over yesterday people came up to me at the iPhoneDevCamp and said “you’re right, where’s Apple?”

    I’m just the messenger here and I AM qualified to be that messenger.

  30. LayZ: did I say I could develop? No. I said I knew what developers wanted because I hang with them. Over and over yesterday people came up to me at the iPhoneDevCamp and said “you’re right, where’s Apple?”

    I’m just the messenger here and I AM qualified to be that messenger.

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