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Comment on "Do Consumers Want Indie iPhone Apps?"
by Jacob Kaplan-Moss — Jan 15
Some bloggers have gone as far to say that they won't buy an iPhone without third party app support. I don't think this reflects the average consumer.

While this is true, it's also not the whole story, and I think it perfectly illustrates why Apple's treading on dangerous group by not opening up the iPhone just a little bit.

Apple's always understood that in technology, some consumers are much more valuable than others. There's a certain group of "influencers" -- early adopters that many others look to for implicit advice.

Take a concrete example: I bought an iPod as soon as I could get my hands on it, and spent the next few months talking it up to less technically-savvy friends. There's probably fifteen people who got an iPod because I did, and probably a few hundred who bought an iPod because one of my friends did.

And I'm nobody special! Think of the number of people who bought an iPod because Kottke (say) raved about it.

Or look at TiVo: when they first launched, they sent free TiVos to a small number of geeks, who blogged, reviewed, and raved about them. There's an almost unlimited number of other examples: Netflix, Flickr,, Firefox...

So what really disappoints me about the locked-down iPhone is that Apple seems to have forgotten this principle. Mac OS X with all its geeky Unixy underpinnings is the poster child for targeting the influence peddlers, so it really sucks to see Apple fail to embrace it as far as the iPhone is concerned.

All that said, I have no doubts that it'll be successful financially; I just think that by ignoring the value of tech influencers, Apple's missing the opportunity to completely dominate the industry.
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