Marco Arment, one of the first developers at Tumblr and creator of Instapaper, thinks that Apple’s new iPhone operating system, iOS 7, is going to level the playing field for developers making apps for Apple’s App Store.
In a post on his blog, Arment compares the unveiling of the new version of iOS to a force of nature:
“Like a forest fire, clearing out the old is very destructive and shouldn’t be taken lightly. But what’s left behind is a clean slate and immense opportunity,” he writes.
According to Arment, entrenched players in the App Store have long been able to maintain their position by incrementally improving their apps as updates to iOS gave them new features to add and new options for user interfaces.
“iOS 7 is different,” he writes. “It isn’t just a new skin: it introduces entirely new navigational and structural standards far beyond the extent of any previous UI changes. Existing apps can support iOS 7 fairly easily without looking broken, but they’ll look and feel ancient.”
The advantage that new developers will have against these existing products is that they won’t be tied to previous versions. Older products need to supports users who bought their apps on older devices that don’t support all the new features available in iOS 7.
This means that even if they want to modernize their apps to the new paradigm, they’ll also need to devote resources to keeping their existing customer base happy. That will lead to compromise.
In Arment’s view, this means that developers can be successful in even the most established markets if they’re willing to be bold: “This big of an opportunity doesn’t come often — we’re lucky to see one every 3–5 years. Anyone can march right into an established category with a huge advantage if they have the audacity to be exclusively modern.”
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