WWDC keynotes take a different turn when you transition from being an Apple user or fan to an Apple platform developer. About 70% of those ninety minutes watching Steve Jobs on stage are spent being excited what direction Apple is planning to take the Mac and iOS over the next year. The other 30% is that cautious concern that what is next on the agenda is going to put your product out of business.
Apple makes no apologies about adding functionality to their platform that will improve the overall experience for the iOS community at large, even if it means stepping on the toes of developers large and small. Whether its adding Instapaper like functionality to Safari for Lion and iOS 5, a to-do list application to replace the hundreds1 of task management apps on the App Store or even text expansion support to save you a few key strokes in your favorite apps.
The term developers tend to use to describe this is ‘Sherlocking’ after Apple unveiled a new version of the Sherlock search application that looks awfully similar to what Dan Wood had done with Watson. In the case of Watson, there wasn’t much room for the product to grow. In other cases such as when Apple entered the RSS market with support for feeds in Mail and Safari, it proved to be a gateway drug to get people to explore more powerful RSS applications like NetNewsWire.
Some people grow frustrated by Apple continually making inroads in existing developer’s territory, but it comes with being a part of the platform. The key is to ensure your product lineup is diverse enough that you can survive taking the blow Apple may offer at the next keynote. As excited as I was to see iCloud be unveiled yesterday, I did it with my teeth clenched waiting to see if Elements was going to live to see today or if yesterday at 11AM was the end of the road as iCloud rendered it obsolete. For me, it’s full speed ahead.