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Apple should free the web services, reap the benefits!

Apple needs to figure out the Web Services game, ASAP! Forbes has an interesting article on the topic, which includes quite a lot of commentary on a tumblr post from Patrick Gibson. Apple does a great job of focus and simplicity on hardware, and even on desktop/ios software. Arguably, no one does a better job on on focus and simplicity than Apple and the iPhone. They are so good at it that the excellence has become a bit boring. Go to the local ATT store and watch. People spend hours looking at, testing and commenting on the Windows and Android phones, then spend 30 seconds buying the Apple one.

However, many of the things that are strengths in a minimalist hardware design and the application stack, are the exact opposite in a web service. Instead of me telling you, let’s take a few examples. In my opinion, what has made Twitter so central to so many people’s lives is not the website, but the simplicity and openness. What they operate is a HUGE repository of 140 character or less messages, associated user accounts, a growing index and most importantly, an slick API. While they have experimented with locking people into their own clients, it is partially the openness of the API that has allowed the Arab Spring to happen.

Another example is Last.FM. This is the music service that Apple dreams Ping could have become. Imagine if Ping had been open? Or imagine Apple buying Last.FM and keeping it open. Instead, you basically were forced to move out of Last.FM to move to Ping. Not going to happen!

iMessages and Facetime is another example. By not allowing outside OS’s into the game, they have left the door open to Skype, Facebook and Google. Let me just say this. If Facetime was open and I could use Adium/Gaim/GTalk/Etc to interconnect for both voice and video calls, I would venture to guess that Skype would be dying. Think of the timing of the Microsoft purchase of Skype. Talk about taking the wind out of the sales. How about Siri. We already know that Siri is almost 100% processed in the cloud. They could be taking the fight to Google. Instead, Google Now is leaping ahead.

Apple views web services as a way to lock people in to their hardware. And it works a bit for that. However, in my opinion, the hardware is so good, there is no need for the lock-in. Instead, open the doors. Maybe monetize them over time, but open the door.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Apple hater, I carry both an iPhone and a MacBook, however, it isn’t an iPhone 5 (4s), nor the latest MacBook (late 2011).

Please Apple. Listen to the crowds on this. Free the services, reap the benefits!

Posted in Business, Geek.

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