In terms of revenue generation, this is an easy question to answer. Of course the iPhone will generate more revenue, but I’m wondering more about the impact on the web world and the world of development. Just as Facebook opened up their platform to developers, so has Apple opened up their iPhone to web developers. The industry has been waiting on an open source mobile platform just as they were waiting on an open source social networking platform. I was talking about this with a good friend of mine this weekend. There is an underlying story behind all of this that is even more important.
Both apple and Facebook have made strategic moves to position themselves as the next “open-source” platforms. The only problem is that they aren’t actually open-source. They have set up branded platforms that provide developers with the ability to develop applications on top of their existing platform within their defined constraints. This is a step above open-source platforms such as Linux that gave developers complete access to the operating system/platform. Rather than enabling developers to simply expand the operating system, they are enabling developers to expand their brand.
We have entered a new phase in the technology world. Brands (Facebook and Apple in particular) will provide the platform (for frameworks which previously didn’t have “open-source” environments) for any developer to rapidly develop applications that can be immediately released to millions of users. While this already existed with Microsoft Windows and Apple OSX, never before had it been so easy for a developer to release an application and have it rapidly adopted by millions of individuals. Facebook has already illustrated its viral potential, now can iPhone?