Steve Jobs, Apple’s iconic CEO and number 43 on Forbes’ list of the wealthiest Americans, has long both thrilled and infuriated geeks — thrilled them with his company’s gorgeous, easy-to-use products, and infuriated them by maintaining tight control over them, even in an age of increasing online openness.
This week, Jobs gave a hint that he sees the value in moving toward some of that openness, when Apple released new guidelines for the developers who make applications to run on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. Even though scores of programmers have found work in developing apps, the process had remained fairly opaque up til now, with developers submitting apps and then waiting to see if Apple would approve them.
Of course, Apple has approved many of them — 250,000 and counting so far. But developers cheered that they will no longer have to read tea leaves to figure out how to get that coveted approval. Even Google and Adobe Systems, two companies that long had issue with how Apple managed its App Store, saw some bright spots in the announcement: Google becauseApple now allows developers to make money by using once-banned third party ad networks like Google’s AdMob and AdSense, and Adobe because now developers can use its Flash to develop apps.
Does this mean Jobs is easing his iron grip on Apple? Who’s the next beneficiary? Underlings? Reporters?
Don’t bet on it.