iPhone: Good or Bad for the Industry?

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Before Apple released the iPhone it irked me that the pace of technology for cell phones lagged at an incredibly slow pace, the user interfaces were crap, and the deal between cell phone providers and service providers seemed to completely leave the consumer out of the value chain.

Apple changed all of that by going “over the top”, picking a winner in each market, but limiting what deal those winners would get.  That was great, and really stuck it to SPs (who got rich anyway).  They’re trying to do the same thing with the iPad, but in the meantime Apple has changed the accepted development model for businesses.

It used to be that you needed rich web connectivity, and that was good enough.  Now you have to have an Apple app in order to reach all of those customers who love their iPhones.  Good examples of this include Facebook, Airlines, and even that dinosaur who is responsible for Formula 1 promotion, Bernie Ecclestone.  Yes, even F1 has an app.

Here’s the problem: many of the Apps are nothing more than shells for garbage that companies want to shovel at you, and they don’t want others using their data”.  A perfect example is American Express, who requires an app in order to view flight reservations.  THERE ALREADY ARE MANY SUCH APPS. One of them is your calendar program.  One thing you might want to do is download reservation information into your calendar.  But American Express‘ travel web site GetThere.Com won’t let you do it.  You have to download their app.

And GetThere is getting sneakier, as they no longer send many corporate travelers a full reservation in email, but instead simply send a pointer to their web page.  Why are they doing this?  Because they don’t want others like TripIt to capitalize on “their” (really your) information.

And so there seems to be no incentive for these bad players to be good players in an iPhone world, in spite of the fact that there are perfectly capable standards and programs and libraries to deal with much of stuff that’s being exchanged.  What can be done to change that?

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