What is Apple’s Secret?

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Nick Gillespie thinks Apple is blowing it with its absurd censorship of iPhone apps. Tim Lee agrees, but says it’s even worse than that:

Last year, almost every computer scientist in my group at Princeton had an iPhone. This year, two of my colleagues have bought Android phones, and I’m leaning toward getting one myself when my iPhone contract runs out next month. Nick focuses on a content-related dispute, but what really sticks in the craw of geeks are the technical limitations Apple imposes on app developers.

On the other hand, there’s this:

Barely a day after its new iPhone went on sale, Apple Inc. and partner AT&T Inc. said they were so slammed with orders that they were temporarily suspending sales to make sure they didn’t sell more units than they could make. Apple said it sold 600,000 phones Tuesday, the day it began taking orders online. That amounted to 10 times more advance orders than it had received for the previous version last year.

Apple’s paranoid attitude toward app development on the iPhone and iPad hardly seems sustainable, but so far it sure doesn’t seem to have bothered many people outside the geek community. The unwashed masses, apparently, don’t really care if they can’t get a cartoon version of Ulysses on their iPhone.

Of course, part of this is because Apple’s competition is strangely weak — something that puzzles me. Is touchscreen development really that hard? Why is the iPhone (seemingly) so far ahead of Android-based phones? Why, even though tablets have been in development by loads of companies for over a decade, is the iPad essentially a one-of-a-kind device? I don’t doubt that Apple has lots of smart developers and good supply chains and all that, but so do a lot of other companies. What’s going on?

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