Originally Posted by DrJedi
How about giving the customers what they want and not telling the customers what they should want? That would be a start. Tell me, does the lack of an App Store for your Mac make it a horrible, anarchic marketplace to choose software for it? Has it rendered your Mac useless? Oh woe is me! Apple doesn't pre-approve every application for the Mac! I have to, horrors of horrors, choose for myself! And has this made Macs unwieldy? Bug ridden? Useless? Why not the same for the iPhone OS?
Let the developers fulfill users' demands without going through a middleman, especially one with conflicting interests.
The issue is that different customers have different wants. And quite often, those wants are at odds with each other. In other words, Apple can only satisfy one of two groups of people.
Specifically, most consumers prefer a device where they don't have to worry about malicious software. They also want to be able find, download, install, and delete apps in the easiest manner possible. The vast majority of people want an appliance-like phone.
Catering to this group unfortunately means that people, such as yourself, don't get the product they want. You would prefer to have a completely open platform that can be customized to no end, and for which software can be installed in a manner up to each developer. This results in a powerful tool for those who feel inclined to use and administer the more complicated device.
One might argue that optional features wouldn't ruin the experience for those who prefer an appliance-like phone. After all, they're optional features, just don't use them. Well in the real world, when the capability is there, people will invariably use it, no matter whether they have the skillset needed to use it effectively. The end result would be the majority of people having a worse experience using the phone.
The iPhone platform would be completely different if the app store didn't function as a middle-man. It would be a confusing mess of potentially bad software. With the app store, average users are installing, enjoying, and using more applications on their phones, by average, than on their home computers. It only takes one minute to learn how to use the app store. Users quickly understand that they don't need to worry about anything. They can install or uninstall anything they want without fear.
Opening up other app-delivery methods would have resulted in the following scenario: Aunt Jenny sends your mom a link to an a weather-bug app. The weather-bug app is installed, having never been vetted, and proceeds to muck up your mom's iPhone.
That isn't to say that this model is best for all platforms or all users. Just that it has worked out to the majority's benefit this time around. Even as a full-fledged computer and gadget geek, I've grown quite fond of how robust and simple the iPhone is, even with its 140000 apps.
The good news is that the pocket computer (smart phone) market is highly competitive. Numerous cash-rich multi-national corporations are spending hundreds of millions on R&D and are continuously releasing new and competitive products. Everyone has a choice. If the locked model doesn't work for you, choose something else. Now if one company starts to achieve a monopoly, then the managed-app-delivery model could become a net-bad. As of right now though, the dictator is benevolent.
Incidentally, the above reasoning, even if not agreed with, is what motivated Apple to prohibit 3rd party background processing at this time. (What most people are refering to as multi-tasking)