Eli Dourado

More double marginalization: Apple and open standards

The very clever Josh Knox points me to Steve Jobs’s open letter about Flash. Following up on my last post on double marginalization, he wonders if Apple’s distaste for Flash can be explained in those terms. Josh is absolutely correct.

The money sentence in Jobs’s letter is this:

Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open.

Replace “though” with “because” and you have a succinct explanation for why companies like Apple would want to support open standards. Apple makes its margin on the iPhone; no need to let Adobe make a margin on content or development. If Apple can replace Flash on the web with open standards, Apple will make more money, and consumers will be better off by not having to (indirectly) pay the Adobe tax. Pretty much the only loser in this is Adobe.