Apple‘s announcement on Tuesday that they had recorded download 1.5 billion from the iPhone App store is another impressive milestone in the history of what is arguably the most successful consumer electronics launch of the 21st century. It’s also a ringing endorsement of the Open Source philosophy of making your API freely available to 3rd party developers. Apple noted in their announcement that there are now over 100,000 developers for the iPhone. Think Steve Jobs has learned some lessons from the days when he had to beg game developers to design software for the Mac OS?
Of course, Apple is not alone in reaping the benefits of a freely available API. Both Twitter and Facebook have enjoyed similar success with this strategy and the wide number of apps available for both platforms is one of the biggest drivers in their phenomenal growth numbers. There are a lot of users who initially got on Facebook just to play Scrabulous (now reinvented as Lexulous) and it would be hard to imagine monitoring a lot of Twitter followers without a third party application like Tweetdeck or Seesmic.
The new model is yet another example of company’s outsourcing innovation and reaping the benefits. What projects are your company working on that could be optimized by sharing your resources with third party experts?