Apple, The Knock-off King?

iTunes is made by the same developer who used to make SoundJam for Casady & Greene. Apple now releases iTunes for free, putting a serious crimp in the market for shareware MP3 players like Audion, and other apps. iChat will also be a free AIM chat client from Apple, which threatens the markets for the developers of Fire, Adium, and others. In fact, Apple has often integrated features into the OS that were in some way introduced by third party developers.

Is there anything wrong with that? Is Apple hurting its own developer community by doing this? These are the questions posed by BusinessWeekis Charles Haddad in his latest iByte of the Applei column entitled "Where Apple Doesnit Always Play Nice." From the article:

Iid argue, in fact, that many if not most of the improvements of the legacy operating system, OS 9, were cribbed from other developers. Examples include such popular features as spring-loaded folders, hierarchical menus, and tabbed windows on the bottom of the screen. The late Now Software pioneered all these features.

Appleis imitations can be downright painful to small developers, since its knockoffs, such as iChat and iTunes, are released as free features within its operating system. That weakens the market for the original software from third parties.

Stop by BW Online and check out the rest of Mr. Haddadis article, then stop back here to let us know what you think. He raises some very interesting points on both sides of this issues.