What do Steve Ballmer and Steve Jobs have in common these days? It’s an odd question considering how frankly Steve Jobs has expressed his distaste with Microsoft and their business approach. That’s why I had to chuckle the other day when I heard Jobs’ comments on Apple’s earning conference call the other day.
…Apple strives to the integrated model so that the user isn’t forced to be the systems integrator. We see tremendous value at having Apple, rather than our users, be the systems integrator… And we also think that our developers could be more innovative if they can target a singular platform, rather than a hundred variants. They can put their time into innovative new features, rather than testing on hundreds of different handsets.
In other words, Apple wants to make it as easy as possible for developers to create applications that iPhone, iPod, and iPad users download from the “integrated” iTunes store. Jobs is arguing that their “closed” platform means “integrated,” while Google’s “open” platform (and at least one prolific developer challenges whether or not Google is really open) actually means “fragmented.” Apple is creating an ecosystem that will thrive based in large part on the diversity of stuff you can do with their devices.
Microsoft (founded by a couple of developers) understood this point from day one:
Windows was successful in large part because they deliberately created a developer-friendly ecosystem that led to an explosion in application development for their operating system, eventually becoming the de facto standard. Some may argue that Microsoft is more similar to Android than iOS because it still wasn’t very tightly integrated and while there is a valid argument to be made there, I’m referring more to the business strategy than the technical realities. After all, this blog is really about inbound marketing.
Speaking of which…
So What’s the Inbound Marketing Takeaway?
This whole point crystallized for me when I read “Is an App a Tool or a Behavior?” by John Jantsch on his Duct Tape Marketing blog. Jantsch wrote the forward for a book titled “App Savvy” that provides guidance for building apps that people will want to use. He is encouraging us to think of apps in a different way than perhaps most of us do:
When you come to view your app ideas and execution with a “feeding a behavior” mindset, ideas and the carrying out of those ideas will flow more freely.
So here’s the bottom line: apps are another channel that help you spread your ideas. They’re another means for achieving the third step of inbound marketing, promotion. Think about the gifts you can offer to your target market and ask yourself, “Is there an app for that?”