Stratechery on iPad as a Platform

Last Thursday, after Apple’s announcement of the new iPad Pro and the subsequent on stage demos from Microsoft and Adobe, technologist Ben Thompson wrote this post about the challenges in sustaining the iPad as a platform. He makes the salient point that making iPad a more robust development environment, which is essentially what I have been arguing for, is not in and of itself enough:

…Cook’s conclusion that Apple could best improve the iPad by making a new product isn’t quite right: Apple could best improve the iPad by making it a better platform for developers. Specifically, being a great platform for developers is about more than having a well-developed SDK, or an App Store: what is most important is ensuring that said developers have access to sustainable business models that justify building the sort of complicated apps that transform the iPad’s glass into something indispensable.

Thompson also gives a mildly backhanded compliment to Adobe later on in the same article:

Over the last several years both Microsoft and Adobe have altered their business models away from packaged software towards subscription pricing; while their users may have grumbled, they also had no choice given their dependence on the two software giants’ products. And, it’s that new model that justifies the expense of developing iPad apps and explains why it is Apple’s old nemeses who are doing by far the most interesting work on the iPad.

There are at least a few things in that passage that I would describe as “not entirely true,” but there is some truth, at least, to all of them. More importantly, it’s absolutely right that Adobe is doing some truly substantive development for the iPad right now. What I’ve seen in my first few weeks since joining the company confirms this.

Read the full article at