[Geowanking] iPhone App Development
jim at media.mit.edu
Mon Jan 15 08:29:30 PST 2007
if the iPhone loader is locked, as it's said to be, then it really
doesn't matter what OS is in the box. We do have SJ on the record
talking about the risk of un-approved software somehow taking down
Cingular due to a misplaced semicolon, to justify his decision to
You are slightly misunderstanding the Roomba example.
iRobot is not like a cell carrier in this important way: they don't
make incremental revenue each time someone vacuums a floor. Thus,
their economic incentives derive from "sales of more hardware" not
from "increased usage" (replacements due to wear and tear excluded).
I was trying to show that for iRobot, incentive toward more profit/
more market share was created in part by hobbyists (using an already-
provided DB9 port, iirc - a cheap, exploratory teaser, "try me"), and
then nurtured with helpful FAQs from the vendor, and finally seized
as a product opportunity once there was a sign of a coming critical
mass, to the benefit of all involved. But iRobot left the door open a
little from the very start, and used the hobbyists to test the waters.
To change the wireless landscape requires equivalent guidance toward
more profit/more market share, for carriers.
In other words, "why should they bother?" "Because it would be
nice" is unfortunately not a good answer to that.
The inverse motivation (aka fear, or "negative reinforcement") can be
used... that is, guidance away from lost profit/lost market share
(e.g. if "a competitor" makes a first move, or a big disruptive other-
thing appears). "If you FAIL to come around to the new way, you're
dead" can work, but the carrot's easier than the stick.
Many have talked, thought, and scratched their heads, but to date
nobody's figured out a workable formula that would allow cellular
phone users to lead carriers, even a little. So the present situation
not just in the closed-ness of the networks and devices, but in the
sad condition of customer service generally.
The players are so big that the force needed to lead them down that
road must also be big or broadly based.
The platforms/networks they have given us to use are pretty good at
tamping down any such forces before they become pervasive enough to
be of concern. Or in English, the masses can't fall in love with and
demand more of your new free mobile application if they can't get it
and don't know about it. Carriers control what their customers know
and use. Customers are happy enough with the status quo.
I think the standard template requires that I write something hopeful
here, but that would feel insincere.
There is precedent for vendors of captive services (ISP services,
paging, other) to allow limited exploration of their networks,
provided such explorations are wired into some good-faith capture of
revenue and/or market share. For example, a paging company "allowed"
me to write software for, and test on, their system, because if the
software I was trying to create actually worked, they could sell many
more pagers. The ISP "Speakeasy.net" has written agile agreements
that allow redistribution of the DSL over an open wireless access
point, support gaming, and so on, bringing business and referrals
from customers who want those things.
I suggest that the best way to go about getting what's desired here
is not going to be a clever hack that touches a tiny fraction of
those who can even afford a very expensive device like an iPhone.
Rather, how do we put the right people in the right spot with the
right carrier, to nudge that door open the first little bit, as
happened successfully for iRobot, the paging company, and the ISP in
the examples here? Cell companies actually a bit open in the early
days when they were starved for applications. That's changed now. How
do we change it back?
Those doing the asking are not going to be able to make demands like
"it must be free for everyone forever". Carriers, and companies
generally, don't respond to that. Wire independent innovation into
market success for those who support the innovators, and it will be
 "non-revenue generators"
On Jan 15, 2007, at 10:44 AM, Marcus Kirsch wrote:
> First of all I disagree with some points like , yes noone is using
> linux on ipod, but iphone is already running os x. Plus we had
> examples of people using the new macbook's sensors to create little
> apps that unfortunately havent found some real use, yet as Jim
> himself giving the example of the Roomba sweepers, new products can
> come out of this and hacking or reverse engineering however you
> call it is not just a "rebel" hobby, you might call it as well
> innovation no matter what, which is interesting coming from someone
> seemingly situated at the MIT.
> Nevertheless I fully agree on the uselessness talking about
> projects and ideas based on rumored functionality.
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