For years, Java Web Start, Adobe AIR, several Microsoft initiatives, and who knows how many failed startups, have all tried to answer the question: does it make any sense to take all of that “traditional app”-development expertise that’s floating around in the world, and use it to try to write web applications that are based around something other than HTML? (Or, to characterize these companies motives more accurately: how can we own that thing that dares to compete with HTML?)
With iPhone apps, we may have the answer, and it’s due to the App Store and its highly compelling business model. What will make developers buy a Mac to write code on, learn Objective C, write to APIs they’d previously never heard of, and finally, pay (an admittedly scrawny) $99 for the privilege? Money. And the App Store provides an incredibly compelling way to make it.
I’ll now launch into an awkward analogy, but I’ll go with it, because it shows how far Apple has come over the past ten years: with the iPhone App Store, we have a bit of the promise of OpenDoc–small bits of code, sold quickly and easily for low prices, tying into larger ones floating around on the network–but wired to a business model that makes so much sense, it just slaps you in the face and dares you not to make sense of it.
We had to practically blackmail developers to write to OpenDoc. I’m not even sure there needs to be an evangelist for the iPhone App Store.