We had been using the app store, first introduced by Apple, as an easy-to-grasp model that Asia’s telecom operators should emulate. Reduce transaction costs; foster decentralized innovation, we said. We were pleased that Etisalat in Sri Lanka was one of the first to implement the idea. Sadly, it appears that Apple is reintroducing some elements of the discredited walled garden metaphor into the app store.
The change may signal a shift for Apple. The company has made more money selling hardware than music, e-books or apps. If people could have access to more content from more sources on their iPhones and iPads, the thinking went, then they would buy more devices.
The move is also surprising, as Apple has indicated recently that it would be more collaborative, not less, with magazine publishers and other content producers that want more control over how to distribute content on the iPad.
“This sudden shift perhaps tells you something about Apple’s understanding of the value of its platform,” said James L. McQuivey, a consumer electronics analyst at Forrester Research. “Apple started making money with devices. Maybe the new thing that everyone recognizes is the unit of economic value is the platform, not the device.”