Back in the 1980’s IBM believed that the real technology value was in strategic hardware manufacturing. They stepped back and let Microsoft build the operating system, a mere component of the hardware that IBM viewed as insignificant. However, as we all know, the software wound up being the differentiating product that made Microsoft one of the largest companies in the world, while the hardware became a commodity. This lesson comes to mind again recently with Apple’s new Gianduia technology announcement, a client-side, standards based framework for Rich Internet Applications (RIAs).
With Gianduia, Apple is once again moving toward the user and the valuable interaction that breeds loyalty and connection with a technology. Gianduia also helps to explain why Apple has been so adamant with freezing Adobe out, first technically and now legally. With Adobe’s Open Screen Project, Adobe was on its way toward becoming the bridge that enabled a unified rich experience across all hardware. This would put Adobe in the value position and relegate Apple into the role IBM played all those decades ago. Instead with Guiaduia, Apple provides developers with an alternative to native Objective C development and delivers a viable alternative for RIAs on its hardware, increasing its value and further entrenching its value with consumers.
Gianduia and the Open Screen Project ultimately both reinforce the importance of rich engagements that RIAs deliver. The fact that two 800lb gorillas are fighting over who gets to provide the platform for delivering a rich experience just further proves that this is where the real value lies.