Apple Computer may have produced some of the most exciting and innovative IT products in recent years - witness the iPod, the iMac, the iTouch and, of course, the iPhone - but why does the company make life difficult for third-party developers?
Let's contrast the situation with the Windows environment. In all its flavours, including Windows Mobile, Microsoft makes it easy for third-party developers to create new and innovative applications, even to the extent of building in API `hooks' for new software to interface with the kernel of the operating system.
Not so with Apple although, more by luck than judgement, OS-X on the Mac has opened up tremendously in recent years. No so with the iPod, iTouch and iPhone, although a dev kit for the latter is rumoured for introduction in the next few months.
So what happens? A third of iPhone users in the US and a good 20 per cent on this side of the Pond unlock their mobiles from their respective network and allow unauthorised applications to be loaded.
This isn't exactly safe for users, who even could end up `bricking' their iPhone and dragging Apple's reputation through the mud.
Likewise with the iTouch, which I got for Christmas, and have already unlocked it for third-party applications.
The downside is that my warranty with John Lewis is pretty well gone for a burton, as the unlocking option on the iTouch is a one-way ticket - unlike the iPhone which can be reflashed to its original state.
The upside is that I now have a range of excellent third-party applications running on my iTouch, including - incredibly enough - a SIP-based Internet telephony package.
Apple's response to such development is predictable, with its reps whining on about invalidating warranty and support line facilities.
Predictable stuff. One day Apple will make some serious mistakes on the new product front and/or a third party upstart will eclipse the Apple product range with a new world order. And I won't be shedding many tears, I can tell you...