In a recent article, John Gruber masterfully compared Google’s and Apple’s software strategy. He insightfully concluded that Apple solved the software distribution problem through their app store therefore doesn’t have to rely on browser based software. As a result of that, they can have all the benefits of native apps. Read the article, I was impressed by its sobriety.
He does have a grave misconception that spans technologies in his following thoughts:
I’m biased, insofar as I consider Apple’s strategy more appealing than Google’s. But that’s because my interest lies in having the best possible user experience — the best-looking UIs, the lowest-latency responses, the smoothest animation, the most elegant designs. I share that interest with Apple.
The error is that Apple strategy does not lie in betting on native apps for “the best possible user experience”.
There are many Widows native apps that are horrendous. Flash, Java and HTML5 are all able to deliver equally good user experience. Most importantly, it is tremendously simple to create awful software in Objective-C, especially Cocoa. No, it’s not about the native apps vs. browser apps vs. any other apps.
Apple strategy lies in their approval process for the app store. That’s why you never get to see all the under-performing, ill-designed nonsense. Because it never get’s to your device.
I can conclude this because I’ve been developing for Flash platform for 10 years where that problems manifests in its fullest. People would often mention to me how they hate Flash because of the annoying advertising banners and non-usable web sites. I on the other hand have experienced some of the best software in the world in Flash.
How can those two impressions co-exist? Because Adobe doesn’t have an approval process for Flash software. Anyone can create and distribute whatever they can manage to compile. In such an environment, all kinds of good and bad work is going to show up. Bad work also gets associated with Flash and Flash ends up having a bad name.
Apple is smarter than that. They decide who is good enough to be associated with their brand. It’s their show and they are running it well.
Their interest lies in their brand image and profits, like of any other business. “Best possible experience” therefore, has nothing to do with Apple’s software and everything to do with how they run their business.