The unveiling of the iPhone almost four years ago stands as a pivotal moment in computing history. The elegant design not only ushered in the mobile computing revolution, it also ignited an entire billion-dollar business based on mobile apps.
And, it is widely believed, this was all part of a master plan designed by Steve Jobs and Apple (AAPL).
But in a recent conversation with former Apple insider Bob Borchers, a very different picture emerged, one that hasn’t been reported until now. What he told me is that the mobile app ecosystem developed far differently from what Apple originally envisioned.
And it happened because Apple did two things: It listened to users. And it adapted.
An important aspect of 21st Century is adaptation – they do not get it right the first time. Apple did not have a grand plan in mind. It was just trying to create the best, most stable smartphone it could.
But, because of the iPhone’s cutting edge nature, it allowed the possibility of outside change. Originally, Apple did not envision the app store.
It listened though and adapted. And in doing so, created an ecosystem much more powerful than just the iPhone itself.
The success of the App Store, though, was dependent on Apple having so many of the pieces already in place – iOS was based on OS X, meaning that a large number of developers could jump on the new system rapidly; iTunes already had the infrastructure to support all the needs of an App store; the hardware of the iPhone could support so much more than web apps.
The success of the App store helped lead to the success of the iPad – Apple made sure that it could run not only iPhone apps but its own.
Apple would not be in the position today if it had clamped down on the development of apps for the iPhone.