Apple Could Turn Google into the Next Microsoft [UPDATED]

Last Updated Nov 17, 2009 5:20 PM EST

Apple has been feeling on top of the world, what with the success of its products, most notably the iPhone, and its financial well-being. But the company has also developed the reputation of being controlling and high-handed, whether non-disclosure agreements, that have the reputation of being far and away the worst in the industry, that its business partners must sign or the seemingly cavalier attitude toward iPhone developers. But there is evidence that many are ready to start pushing back, and in ways that could help cut short the lead that Apple has developed in the mobile space.

ReadWriteWeb reported that three different iPhone app developers had started are mentioned in an online petition demanding to know why Apple had three different DJ MP3 apps waiting two months and holding for approval. One finally did get the nod today. Frankly, given the ramping volume of apps clamoring for space on the company online store, it's not surprising that Apple's approval process is backlogged. But given the events around not approving Google Voice, suspicion quickly surfaces that Apple is not even handed and far more devoted to its own interests than the infrastructure that has grown around its popular device.

That's a good way to set up potent resistance on the part of the very people that make your success possible. Without the apps, the iPhone would still be popular, but not to the degree it is now. And there are other places that developers might think of going. For example, one analyst is estimating that Motorola and Verizon could sell 600,000 Droids in the fourth quarter. The analyst's estimate for 2010 Droid sales could hit 10 million. That's some serious movement, and only one of the potential outlets for Android developers. A number of hardware companies, including chip-maker ARM, have created a resource for developers writing Android apps running on ARM-powered devices. And that could mean netbooks and other devices supporting the OS.

Developers will compare the growing difficulty of getting an app approved by Apple and the huge pool of existing apps (meaning little chance for most to get noticed and sell) to an expanding set of devices with a large audience and relatively new and open market. That could help give Google a chance to become the Microsoft of the next decade, with its OS becoming virtually ubiquitous and not limited only to PCs.

It's a series of mistakes that come out of Apple's underlying culture, philosophy, and strategy. And it's difficult to see how the company, as it exists, will avoid plowing head-on into a wall of its own making.

Image via Flickr user Blyzz, CC 2.0.

  • Erik Sherman On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.