Apple has admitted that it needs to build a better relationship with software developers or its business could be at risk.
At the company's third European Developer Forum last week Heidi Roizen, Apple's vice president for worldwide developer relations, confessed that the supplier did not have a good track record with developers.
"There was no one previously at Apple responsible for building relationships with developers," she said. "When we released a Windows-only version of the software, no one phoned us up and asked why."
She said that Apple will be reinventing how it deals with developers, and she would like to see free membership to Apple's costly developer programmes. "If we can't make it as good, if not better, to be on a Mac then we don't deserve your support," she told delegates. "Our CEO believes that without developers Apple doesn't have a business."
The first example of Apple's new developer focus came yesterday with the launch of a new European developer Web site. This includes discussion groups and online communities. The Web service will be extended in January to include members-only areas.
In a candid admission, Roizen, who previously headed up her own software company before joining Apple at the same time as CEO Gil Amelio, commented that to outsiders, Apple did not always look like such a good career move.
"When you join Apple, people do question your sanity."
The success of the Mac came about because Apple focused on the developer community. Had it not been for Aldus in 1985, the Mac may never have been as successful as it was. Then, desktop publishing was the killer application which distinguished Macintosh from the IBM PC. Today, as PCs have become increasingly more sophisticated, Apple desperately needs a new killer application. Hence its renewed emphasis on developer relations.
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