Rather than innovating, Palm has spent the last five+ years chasing after "carrier requirements", ignoring end users, neglecting its once thriving ecosystem, and bandaging an increasingly obsolete operating system.
And Microsoft's Windows Mobile never even figured out what a mobile user experience is all about...
So it is little wonder that once the iPhone was hacked to allow for third party application development, there was an unprecedented flood of excitement and enthusiasm. Over the past two months, there has been more developer activity on the "officially closed" iPhone than on the "open" PalmOS. Some great stuff was starting to emerge - with immense possibilities for the future.
Apple was at first officially "neutral" on the concept - saying they would do nothing to guarantee that future iPhone OS updates wouldn't break iPhone applications, but they would do nothing "malicious" to stop developers either.
But Apple has stopped playing fair, and has gotten VERY malicious.
The new iPhone 1.1.1 update locks down the iPhone so strongly that even if developers find a new way in, it is now clear that Apple's "neutral" stance is long gone - and every new update will slam the door hard shut yet again.
Where there was once unprecedented enthusiasm, there is now emerging a huge backlash of disgust. I don't think Apple realizes how much damage they have done - it is never wise to piss off your most enthusiastic fans, developers, and influencers. Conservative estimates show that fully 10% of the one million iPhone's sold so far have been "hacked" to install third party applications. The now stillborn Navizon soft-GPS program alone had been downloaded and installed 80k times.
The anti-Apple backlash is making news - it has been a top story on Google News all week. Gizmodo has revised its iPhone review to "Don't Buy" in response, Wired is writing about all the thing you can do with the iPhone 1.0.2 that you can't after "downgrading" to the new 1.1.1, and even the New York Times is taking a real critical look at how Apple has attacked its "most ardent fans".
Apple is certainly taking a hard-line - even a MacWorld editor was told his only recourse after bricking his iPhone by upgrading to 1.1.1 was that he was "screwed" and needed to buy a new one. Egads!
This video really nails the situation by turning Apple's own words against it - taking the audio from the classic "Think Different" campaign and overlaying it on top of a scrolling catalog of the iPhone applications that have emerged:
Apple has forgotten its own advertising - Apple has stopped "Thinking Different" and turned into 1984's Big Brother.
It is rare to see Apple stumble so badly.
And it is interesting to see Nokia trying to take advantage of the stumble - with new posters appearing saying "Phones should be open to anything. The best devices have no limits" and launching an "Open to Anything" marketing campaign.
If only Nokia had a phone even half as exciting as the iPhone...