I was not surprised to see the reports today – including this one in USA Today – that Apple (or more specifically Steve Jobs) has decided to loosen the reins on the iPhone and will now allow third-party applications. (Apple will still stick with AT&T as the exclusive broadband/phone partner, however.) This change was all but inevitable. I’ve never met Steve Jobs but he appears to be a very smart guy, so he must have realized a few valuable lessons in the wake of several marketing missteps involving the iPhone:

  • The collective insight and innovation of the crowd is invaluable…and difficult to silence or ignore
  • Fans can be ardent supporters or fierce critics – depending on how you treat them
  • There is nobody more critical than a (product) lover scorned
  • Opening up the door to third-party applications can dramatically improve the quality and popularity of your products (see Facebook as example)
  • Collaboration and transparency rule – rigid restrictions and insularity are out

 It will be interesting to see how the iPhone evolves now that the doors have been opened a little wider.