Competing with your ecosystem

Earlier today, I thinking about the new ipad. I’m still trying to decide i’m getting the white one or the black model….but ah, i digress.

Then my mind wandered to the new Smart Cover.(i’m getting the orange one, lauren is getting the pink). 

It’s beautiful and given that Apple was the only one to know about magnets in iPad2, they will have the first case on the market that uses this capability. 

So I was thought out loud about that effect on the iPad ecosystem (to my knowledge, apple doesn’t make an iphone case). Why didn’t any 3rd party ipad case company cry foul. 

I got a few responses. Peter Rojas thinks that fear is keeping 3rd parties from complaining. Chris Dixon suggests it’s because Apple doesn’t bundle it. 

I think Peter’s follow up tweet was something to consider:

@bijan Yeah, if can get your stuff into Apple’s retail channel you can make an insane amount of money.

Even though Apple competes with their ecosystem, they provide a way for 3rd parties to still innovate and thrive.

And you don’t have to get into their store to do this either. As far as I know, Dodocase doesn’t have a deal with the Apple Store – instead they just sell direct. 

Dave Winer has often told me that there will always be a certain amount of healthy tension within any ecosystem. And I’m sure Apple has their fair share of such tension.

So you can have an interesting and vibrant ecosystem even if the platform competes with others in the ecosystem. But the key things to take away from this in my mind is that the platform has to be strong, successful and growing. If it isn’t than the ecosystem won’t stick (how many Zune cases have you seen). And if the platform is strong and growing, the ecosystem will figure out a way to thrive based on creativity, tenacity and differentiation.