Apple updates demonstrate developers' need for innovation

Many independent developers have been left sweating by a number of the features set to be included in Apple’s new MAC and iPhone operating systems.

At WWDC this month, the organisation announced a raft of changes to the Safari browser, alongside its new iCloud suite and a number of new native apps like iMessage, moving it into direct competition with numerous companies of all sizes.

Companies including RIM, with its BlackBerry Messenger app, and the online storage service DropBox, will be viewing Apple’s developments with a wary eye.

Improvements to the iPhone’s camera software, for instance, included functionality found a number of independent applications, including using the volume button to take a photograph; a feature that Tap Tap Tap, makers of the Camera+ app, had their app blocked from App Store for.

“Volume button to snap a pic ... What an awesome idea, Apple!” Tweeted the developer.

Instapaper, which stores web-articles in text only format so users can read them later, will also be challenged by Safari’s new Reading List functionality. Instapaper’s developer, Marco Arment responded to the news with a blog, in which he wrote that he had been expecting the move, but said it had happened sooner than expected.

The move demonstrates the risks inherent risks to third party developers in a market where providers can very quickly shift to become competitors. Some may even feel that they’ve been used as free R&D services for Apple’s own product development teams.

But while many will feel uncomfortable at this, many small developers will take consolation in the fact that Apple’s market-gobbling add-ons are confined just to Apple products.

In fact, the lack of surprise, or even real tangible alarm, from some developers points to an altogether more resilient mood among proven industry innovators. Instapaper’s creator Arment, who says his biggest problem isn’t winning over converts from competitors, but explaining to people how his service works, believes the move may well have a positive effect on his business.

“Today, fewer than 1% of iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch owners are Instapaper customers,” he wrote. “The potential market is massive, but most people don’t know that they need it yet.”

He explained that if Apple educates millions of users in the benefits of a ‘read later’ service, those people become prime potential Instapaper customers. “And it gives me an easier way to explain it to them: ‘“It’s like Safari’s Reading List, but better, in these ways.’

“So I’m tentatively optimistic,” he added. “Our world changes quickly, especially on the cutting edge, and I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

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