Editor’s note: This post is sponsored by GetJar.
Open vs Closed is one of today’s hottest topics in the apps and appstores world. It seems like everybody supports Open; also everybody calls themselves Open, but is it really so?
First, let’s define what Open really means, because everybody understands it differently. Openness is not binary; it has many shades of gray, as it does different dimensions. It starts at the very fundamental property of a mobile platform — whether the user is allowed to download apps from different sources (appstores, mobile sites, memory cards and other places). Although it is commonly believed that the only two really closed platforms given this definition are iPhone and Brew, other places may not in reality be perfectly open either, despite different public positioning. E.g. not many would know that Android by default comes with settings restricting the user from freely downloading apps from other places than Android Market. Such practices can barely characterize Openness. Drawing a comparison with the real world, how would you feel if you were only allowed to shop for all of your needs (from clothing to toys) in only one mall?
More importantly, though, are content guidelines. Formally created to “guard user experience”, too often they are used to ban competing businesses. In fact, the restrictions affect the most important, interesting and profitable areas, such as voice, navigation, music, browsing, etc. As a result, developers are kept away from the most lucrative businesses — “Yes, you can sell $0.99 peanuts in our town, but don’t even try to open a bank, or even a restaurant here…”. Consumers also suffer, as they are forced to use (and pay for) one specific service, not because they’ve chosen it, but only because it’s the only available.
GetJar CEO Ilja Laurs attended Vilnius University Lithuania, where he studied Economics. Serial entrepreneur since 1999, Ilja’s launched over 20 successful projects, as diverse as Lithuania’s largest hotel reservation system LithuanianHotels.com, mobile payments service MicroPay.lt and mobile games studio Gaxo Interactive. In 2009, Informa Telecoms & Media included Ilja in the list of Top 40 most influential people in mobile communications.