The iPod as platform

Charles Arthur: Why iPod’s tune won’t change

All Apple has to do is publicise the application programming interfaces its teams use to write programs, such as Breakout, Solitaire, Contacts and Calendar for the iPod. But will it? Not soon. Danika Cleary, the head of worldwide iPod product marketing, told me in London last week that the debate has surfaced repeatedly within Apple. “But our stance is that right now [the iPod is] very simple and it works the same for everyone,” she says. “We have decided to keep it closed. And basic.”
Why? “Essentially, it’s a music player,” she says. “We don’t want to spoil the experience.” Clearly the worry within Apple is that outside programs might mess up the working of the machine – and that Apple would get the blame. Microsoft is familiar with this: Windows is often blamed for glitches that are down to badly written (or just malicious) outside programs.
Without becoming a platform, the iPod won’t achieve long-term dominance (say, over five or 10 years) even while keeping sizeable market share. But there’s still time for Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, to change his mind.