Call it Steve Jobs' revenge. In what might be called the original "Clone War" of the 1990s, the superior Mac OS and hardware were routed by the Wintel clones -- IBM clones really, including Dells, Gateways, and something called a Compaq. Apple had a fetish for perfection, and old Steve just could not abide letting lesser mortals have a license to make compatible machines. Nor could the great Apple sully its OS by making a version that would run on a clone. Worse yet, Apple wanted to make almost all its own software and snubbed independent software developers.
Maybe that's an unfair charge, you say? Well, I was one, so I remember it pretty vividly. Our company, NeocorTech (a name that liternally nobody got for the half decade we were in business), made Japanese translation software that ran on non-Japanese Windows machines. And how many calls a week did we get asking if we made a Mac version? At least one. And of course, the answer was no. Why? Because Apple made it very hard for us.
So Microsoft had a horde of software coders to match the horde of Intel's clone machines, and we overwhelmed the Macintosh. For a long, long time, my partners and I were part of the crowd of Apple haters who mocked them like Americans mock the French. They were hilarious snobs - oozing stylish class and business ignorance.
And then Steve came back to Apple. And he got it. And when he launched the second coming of computer technology in the iPod/iPhone, he deployed the strategy of the horde of third party developers. And lo, they built a plentiful garden of awesome capitalist creativity that nobody, not even the French, can deny.
Back in the 90s, you still needed a company to deploy your software. But Apple's AppStore took things to an entirely new level. Raw Entreps are making awesome stuff and living the American dream faster and more fully than ever before. Check out this story from WIRED:
Apple's iPhone application store is as crowded as a Beyonce concert, with more than 20,000 apps available. But one independent developer still managed to rake in $600,000 in a single month with a single iPhone game.
Ethan Nicholas, developer of a tank artillery game called iShoot, told Wired.com he quit his job the day his app rose to No. 1 in the App Store, earning him $37,000 in a single day.
"I'm not going to be a millionaire in the next month, but I'd be shocked if it didn't happen at the end of the year," he said in a phone interview. "If it weren't for taxes I would be a millionaire right now."
Until recently, there has been no realistic way for individual programmers to make serious money on their own. Most of the software market is dominated by big companies, and the traditional distribution method for independent developers -- shareware -- isn't conducive to striking it rich. By contrast, Apple's iTunes App Store provides a platform for marketing, selling and distributing software; all a developer needs to provide is a good idea and some working code.
So the question is: What recession?