Remember a month ago, when I urged the open source developers to take on this software and develop something equivelant and multi-platform? It seems that the only people who actually got interested in my $100 USD offer… was Apple.Their new Sherlock search application for OSX 10.2 Jaguar is a direct copy-cat of Watson, and there is no denying in that. The Karelia folks, obviously unhappy with the sudden change of Sherlock from being a simple search tool, to a Watson-like web service, will most probably take them out of the market in the long run (they sell the product for $29, and reportedly as of now, it is still better than Sherlock 3 as it supports more add-ons and it has an SDK for third party developers to create their own add-ons). They are now more strongly consider a port on Windows, to keep their company alive.
However, we should not be too fast judging Apple. They recognized that the Watson application is an incredibly great idea, and having it bundled with their OS, it would make OSX a more viable OS and more complete. From this point of view, what they did what was absolutely correct for their product and their users. However, history dictates that when an OS manufacturer competes straightly face-to-face with their third party developers, they destroy a part of their own market. And without a viable market, an OS can not have a future commercial success.
Be, Inc. had made the decision back in 1996 to never compete with third party developers. They paid this decision by having developers only creating small utilities, while more complex applications were almost unusable from bugs, as third party developers could not master the art of multi-threading in their code. Result was, that after years of BeOS being available, only a handful of really useful applications were created. Most of them were small utilities (please note the difference of an ‘application’ and a ‘utility’). This is not the case with Apple though, where they already have quite a large application base, plus some very advanced development tools, in contrast to what Be had.
Apple is taking today a route where they compete with their resellers and developers, in order to maximize their revenue. What do you think, would this strategy hurt Apple in the long run, or would it make them stronger?