[FoRK] $100M for iPhone Developers

Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> on Thu Mar 6 21:30:04 PST 2008

On Mar 6, 2008, at 4:20 PM, Luis Villa wrote:

> I'm going to go with option (c), Ernie, 'laughter.'
> No one built anything close to respectable businesses on Palm or
> Blackberry or WinCE apps; why will anyone will magically be able to do
> so on iPhone, where they not only have the same problems as the
> aforementioned platforms but also have to compete against top-notch
> free webapps?

Playing devil's advocate a bit here, but a scruffy little team of  
folks I used to be associated --- with less than a half-million in  
funding --- with managed to extract $6m from *General Magic's* short- 
lived entry in that race, and most people couldn't even *spell*  
"Internet" at that time.  (We also bailed on the space before Palm  
really debuted, so --- in a sense --- score two for our team. :-)

I'm a believer this time around, I think this thing has legs and have  
to give the KPCB guys huge props for having foresight and chutzpah.   
They're probably not going to have the usual 1/7 hit rate, but I bet  
they'll have a couple of hits out of this that generate bigger returns  
than usual and justify the whole adventure.

IMHO, there's a certain critical mass of features / functionality /  
killer app(s) below which any platform fails to truly take off and  
above which things are qualitatively different.  iPhone may have it  
--- perhaps not in this generation, but the potential's there.  And  
iPhone's off to a huge start already anyway;  it's difficult to  
overstate the momentum it's got, it's astounding really.  And it's got  
a lot to recommend it beyond the aforementioned platforms.

The whole distribution thing (App Store) is huge.  I think I posted  
something to this list (one of the periodic "open letters to Steve")  
about six or seven years ago pleading with Apple to do something like  
that for the Mac.  And the iPhone's got a *real* OS, IDE (for those  
that care about that sort of thing, IMHO more important for mobile  
devices than other hardware applications) and a *real* language with  
lots of libraries and 3rd-party expertise and support behind it ---  
something that is fundamentally different to any of the above.

I didn't "get" the iPod when it debuted, and in some sense still  
don't.  But I wouldn't count the iPhone out at all.  Eventually the  
phone WILL be a platform --- IMHO, someday it'll be the portable  
brain, our laptops will just be dumb terminals on our mobiles.   
Apple's the first company making a credible run at that space.  I  
wouldn't count them out, or the possibility that --- pried away from  
the telecom companies and the mobile-only companies so desperate to  
build a "companion" device rather than a primary one --- the phone  
becomes the platform basis of a thriving ecosystem of 3rd-party apps.

Apropos web apps, welcome to the new platform war:  desktop ecosystems  
are enjoying a bit of a renaissance.  I know very few people that have  
actually and successfully gone "all Web" --- and more than a few that  
have tried, myself included, that have come full circle.  At some  
point the two will smear and fade into each other to a large extent,  
but I wouldn't bet on the highly balkanized Web 2 crowd to prevail  
over e.g. Apple in particular in that battle.



PS - Nu, the Objective-C / Lisp hybrid I've mentioned before, has  
already been experimentally ported to the iPhone.  Here we go...

PPS - I'm in my 3rd month as an iPhone owner.  It's not the e-mail  
device that my Nokia E60 (RIP, crushed in a car door incident just  
before Christmas) was, but on the whole it's the best mobile device  
I've ever owned (and I owned pretty much one of everything from the  
first Newton through the first Palm, and quite a few since.)  It  
*feels* qualitatively different from any other phone or mobile I've  
ever had.

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