For Apple, It's the Simplicity Stupid

Rich Tehrani : Communications and Technology Blog - Tehrani.com
Rich Tehrani
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For Apple, It's the Simplicity Stupid

How Apple's dead simple interfaces and walled-garden approach are wreaking havoc on the competitive world of technology and entertainment

If you have any interest in the future of computing read this post from Charlie's Diary which explains why he thinks Apple is blocking Flash from many of its newer devices. In a nutshell, Flash allows cross-platform development and Apple of course doesn't want to see this being done. There are other cross platform tools available for the iPhone at but let's not go there at this moment.

Another interesting point in the article is a mention of HP buying Palm to compete with Apple via webOS. This is 100% correct. The world has changed. I wrote a while back about how Apple is destroying open computing with its walled-garden approach. Now that I have an iPad I continue to assert this is the case.

But it gets worse for the competition because Apple has the same secret weapon in devices that Sony has in cameras. The proprietary memory stick is what allowed Sony to make more money per camera than the competition. If they chose to they could either lower prices or add more innovation into the camera and sell more than the next guy. Memory Stick technology really didn't keep up with other devices which means this advantage is not so great for Sony today.

But for Apple, they have a very good idea what each iPad/iPhone customer is worth over the life of the product due to App Store revenue. All this and iTunes revenue to boot. So now Apple can charge less for a device today because of the revenue it will make tomorrow. Moreover Apple knows as it sells even more devices the developers will come calling in larger numbers which of course means more revenue per user.

Another concept in the above-mentioned post has to do with the PC era being at an end. I am not sure I agree with this idea but what I do believe is Apple's products continue to kick the rear out of all others and the company has a head start which is unbelievably scary for those who hope to keep computing ecosystems open.

Apple took a phone and made it bigger and now it is eating into the general netbook market. They could tweak it again and turn into a laptop killer. Tweak it once more and it is a desktop killer. Each time they do this they keep the ecosystem closed... Shut... No entry unless you are a massive computer company based in Cupertino. Or of course unless they say you are approved.

Face it... When it comes to computing devices, HP is screwed. Dell as well. Sony may not stand a chance.

These new Apple devices have the most simple user interfaces and even leave important things like multitasking and Flash out. Still people can't stop buying them.

For years, the tech industry survived by out-featuring each other. If your product has 100 features, mine had to have 120, etc. This is obviously not the same methodology Apple is employing. They are simplifying and the market is drooling.

In the VoIP space there have been thousands of software failures. One of the biggest successes came from Skype because the company used simplicity and a fun and light interface where others used arcane user name addresses and passed along unnecessary complexity.

When will other vendors learn? At this rate it may be too late. I understand that many people hope Google will be the counterbalance but Android to me is a poor copy of the iPhone OS. We are entering a world of computing simplicity where the number of partners the walled garden ecosystem is commensurate with success. Few people saw this coming but now that this new world order has been revealed, how will computing respond from the competitive threat Apple is now wielding on numerous industries?

Here is an excerpt from the above-mentioned story:

I've got a theory, and it's this: Steve Jobs believes he's gambling Apple's future -- the future of a corporation with a market cap well over US $200Bn -- on an all-or-nothing push into a new market. HP have woken up and smelled the forest fire, two or three years late; Microsoft are mired in a tar pit, unable to grasp that the inferno heading towards them is going to burn down the entire ecosystem in which they exist. There is the smell of panic in the air, and here's why ...

We have known since the mid-1990s that the internet was the future of computing. With increasing bandwidth, data doesn't need to be trapped in the hard drives of our desktop computers: data and interaction can follow us out into the world we live in. Modem uptake drove dot-com 1.0; broadband uptake drove dot-com 2.0. Now everyone is anticipating what you might call dot-com 3.0, driven by a combination of 4G mobile telephony (LTE or WiMax, depending on which horse you back) and wifi everywhere. Wifi and 4G protocols will shortly be delivering 50-150mbps to whatever gizmo is in your pocket, over the air. (3G is already good for 6mbps, which is where broadband was around the turn of the millennium. And there are ISPs in Tokyo who are already selling home broadband delivered via WiMax. It's about as fast as my cable modem connection was in 2005.)

A lot has been said about how expensive it is to boost the speed of fibre networks. The USA has some of the worst domestic broadband in the developed world, because it's delivered over cables that were installed early -- premature infrastructure may give your economy a leg up in the early years, but handicaps you down the line -- but a shift to high-bandwidth wireless will make up the gap, assuming the frequencies are available (see also: shutting down analog TV and radio to make room). It's easier to lay a single fat fibre to a radio transciever station than it is to lay lots of thin fibres to everybody's front door, after all.

Anyway, here's Steve Jobs' strategic dilemma in a nutshell: the PC industry as we have known it for a third of a century is beginning to die.

PCs are becoming commodity items. The price of PCs and laptops is falling by about 50% per decade in real terms, despite performance simultaneously rising in real terms. The profit margin on a typical netbook or desktop PC is under 10%. Apple has so far survived this collapse in profitability by aiming at the premium end of the market -- if they were an auto manufacturer, they'd be Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and Jaguar rolled into one. But nevertheless, the underlying prices are dropping. Moreover, the PC revolution has saturated the market at any accessible price point. That is, anyone who needs and can afford a PC has now got one. Elsewhere, in the developing world, the market is still growing -- but it's at the bottom end of the price pyramid, with margins squeezed down to nothing.

At the same time, wireless broadband is coming. As it does so, organizations and users will increasingly move their data out into the cloud (read: onto hordes of servers racked up high in anonymous data warehouses, owned and maintained by some large corporation like Google). Software will be delivered as a service to users wherever they are, via whatever device they're looking at -- their phone, laptop, tablet, the TV, a direct brain implant, whatever. (Why is this? Well, it's what everyone believes -- everyone in the industry, anyway. Because it offers a way to continue to make money, by selling software as a service, despite the cost of the hardware exponentially dropping towards zero. And, oh, it lets you outsource a lot of annoying shitty admin tasks like disk management, backup, anti-virus, and so on).

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What benefits do customers have in Apple's "walled garden approach," the absence of Flash and CS5 on the iPhone platform and Apple's control of the Apps store? It's very clear: Apple delivers superior service. We iPhone users prefer things as they are.

First, there is the dearth of malware which plagues the Windows markets. Then, there is the absence of poorly designed and badly performing cross platform applications. Giving Apple the right to prescreen apps means that customers are less dissatisfied with their App store purchases. That is why the Apple users are not the ones who are complaining. It is the developers.

It is the Fly by Night Windows developers who want take advantage of Apple's customers. Let them complain. Apple has no lack for either applications or developers. Over 200 thousand applications and three billion downloads is something that a good developer will respond to. Let us applaud Apple for keeping bad developers off the iPhone platform.

Apple's iPhone platform isn't very old and there is a lot that can be improved. I don't know why there are so many iHaters out there. Those iHaters can use Android or Symbian or RIM OS but yet they keep complaining that Apple's "walled garden" approach is ruining the smartphone industry. It's the iPhone/Touch/iPad users that are voting with their wallets that they think Apple's "walled garden" approach is a good thing. That's why iPhone sales are as high as they are. Consumers feel safe using the iPhone ecosystem.

While the iHaters say the iPhone ecosystem is restricted, many of the users of iPhones say they feel protected. I like the idea of Apple locking down their mobile ecosystem for the mass of users that are not technically adept. They are not the geeks who want to tinker constantly with their devices. These average consumers just want to use their devices easily and have as few problems as possible. Apple also has to lock down their mobile system because competitors will just copy it and steal whatever Apple makes and sell it cheaper. R&D costs money and these copycat competitors will take a short cut by reverse engineering whatever Apple does.

The iPhone ecosystem is going to be facing a lot of resistance now since everything that Apple tries to do is going to be under scrutiny by the FTC. Every time a competitor thinks that Apple has an unfair advantage, they're going to be squealing to the Feds that Apple is cheating even though the iPhone market share is still relatively small. On one hand the competitors are saying that the iPhone ecosystem will fail very quickly on its own because it is a "closed" system, yet on the other hand the competitors are actively trying to find every way possible to bring it down by using the government to intercede.

Apple has been trying to bring quality devices to consumers and the user experience is very important. However, as Apple tries to continue to strengthen the user experience, the competitors are saying that Apple has too much control. Only the users of Apple products should be able to decide that. There are a lot of outside forces that want to see Apple fail. I suspect there is a conspiracy behind this in order to keep the older companies in power.

Consumers want to use a product such as the iPad because it makes life simpler for them, while Microsoft just wants to keep pumping out complicated Windows 7 devices to consumers whether they like it or not. Of course, Microsoft is just doing this to survive and they don't really care what the consumers want. All that matters to MS is OEM Windows desktop licenses for revenue. Microsoft can't tolerate a "toy" company like Apple becoming bigger than they are and will claim that Apple is ruining the computer industry for the masses.

Amazing how as computer users become more sophisticated, and are making their own decisions unencumbered by IT personnel sputterings, they're voting with their dollars and choosing Apple and its products.

You know I keep reading how Apple has limited the approach developers can use in an attempt to stifle competition. It is aggravating to read every time. Apple is trying to avoid the situation Mac users have had to deal with since the beginning of the Macintosh: Sloppy, half-functional application ports from Windows. These cross-platform applications arrive on the Mac after the Windows version and with no attention to those platform specific capabilities that make the Macintosh unique. For instance, the failure of MS Office for Mac to support Services ten years after they were introduced into the Mac OS. Like games in the Classic Mac OS era, ported from Windows, failing to support Game Sprockets or being written to take advantage of the specific video cards used in Mac systems or lacking multiplayer features or level editing capability. No, Jobs meant what he said, the most important reason for these limits is to force developers to develop specifically for the iPhone OS and thereby to take advantage of its very specific capabilities. Thank goodness for no dumbed down cross-platform applications.

Rich, I believe that Apple will resolve your concerns given time. The App store is quite new. It needs to segments into department by age and interests; parental controls need to be applied. Apple is correct in responding to parents wanting to keep their children away from sexually provocative apps, but it needs to respect the rights of its adult buyers too.

Your concerns about companies manipulating us are valid, but they do this in positive as well as negative ways. Think of your favorite store, doesn't it try to maintain an image which appeals to you? It does this by limiting the junk you must wade through. It selects a range of products and services to provide which appeals to that image and your sensibilities.

The problem with computers is that they are mass market, rather than personal; we customers are not yet provided with enough choices. The stores should be clear in the image for which they are selecting. Apple thinks that they should select for good taste and politics is often in poor taste. So, Apple, also, needs an app store which appeals to rambunctious types.

Conflicts of interests are expressed in this dispute. The people who demand an OPEN apps store want to be in control. Apple has been accused of wanting to create a rigidly closed "walled garden." I believe that the customers should be in control. This means that "one-size does-not-fit-all."

An OPEN app store would displease many of Apple's current customers. This is why I think Apple bought iAd. This software keeps track of your interests, so that it selects what ads or apps to present to you. This is what a good and caring salesperson does; they present you with products and services designed to further your goals. They would never present you with choices which offend your sensibilities. Is this limiting? Yes. Is it harmful? No, not when the nudging toward a selection is gentle and the customer has the final say.

Great article Louis. Apple uses the "scarcity principle" better than anyone out there. Steve Jobs in brilliant. People will wait in line for days to get a new Apple product, even if it doesn't support flash. My question is, Do you think many developers will take that into consideration when building their sites? In other words, will they NOT use flash because of no iPad/iPhone support?

Thanks!

"My question is, Do you think many developers will take that into consideration when building their sites? In other words, will they NOT use flash because of no iPad/iPhone support?"

Sure, they will. It is already happening. We are being provided more choices by those web site developers. I recently read an article which said that, in the last year, the use of the H.264 codec had increased from 31 to 64% of the Web. We will be provided with a choice of both Flash and H.264.

I don't believe that Apple wanted this struggle with Adobe yet. It would rather wait; HTML 5 needs to mature a bit more. Three years from now, Flash will clearly be at a disadvantage. That is why Adobe threw a hissy fit now; not that they have a version of Flash which could work on the iPhone platform.

Apple seems to be working on an Open Source HTML 5 development system to replace Flash: Gianduia. It will use the latest technologies.

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1635595/apple-secret-flash-replacement-plan

" one has to wonder why there isn’t more concern among them as to the nanny-state of app stores."

I think that very few of the App store's customers see it as being a nanny state, Rich. Apple needs to make changes so it can serve its customer's better, but I don't believe that the solution is to cave in to the developers.

The computer market is changing and many people like the old anarchy. The market is widening out into groups who don't like computers at all; they want more customer service and pampering. The old guard in computing resents that kind of hand holding. They see it as censorship.

The App store is a work in process; I believe it needs to break up into departments. Clearly, Apple needs a store where there is no hand holding, but there will be other departments where there will be varying amounts of mentoring depending on what the customer needs.

The problem is that to do this right requires a huge software development project. Those take time. In the meantime, Apple is trying to cut its losses. It would rather offend the old time computer users than its new converts who are potentially far more numerous.

I really think that Apple has other things that it would rather concentrate on. Apple makes no money in censoring apps, but it has a responsibility to protect its image. And it needs to create the kind of image it wants for the App store. Anarchy, chaos and totally open never was Apple's method. Apple creates the Whole Widget -- both the hardware and software for a better user experience.

The problem is that the developers won't censor themselves and they, often, have a sense of entitlement. "How dare Apple tell me what to do?" Some of that is from the FOSS community's Linux socialism -- the Cathedral vs the Bazaar. Many of FOSS's adherents are opposed to commercial enterprises. They ignore the fact that they are parasitic; they could never create an iPad or and iPhone.

Unfortunately, Rich, Socialism has indoctrinated us all.

A socialist believes in group action and that politics will resolve issues. The FOSS community often has members in it who decry capitalism and want to force issues, although most would use intimidation or group pressure rather than violence. They will use FUD and flagrant moralizing. Companies are the enemy.

But, Socialism is so prevalent, in America, that even capitalists and libertarians have trouble resisting the urge to meddle in other people's lives.

A capitalist thinks that the market place will resolve controversy. The consumers will act to bless the winners; cause and effect will eventually hurt the bad actors. It seems that every government in the world is being punished as a bad actor now, but the people in charge never learn the lesson. Perhaps in November, that will change.

If Apple is running the Apps store improperly, then there will be consequences, not from the government, but from the marketplace. People will use their purchasing power to punish or reward Apple. It seems as though Apple is acting in the consumer interest, but the App store is new. It has much change ahead of it. We do not know Apple's plans. Why are they building the largest data center in the world in South Carolina?

There is a fascinating video on TED about why Apple is so successful. Steve Jobs does an excellent job of explaining why we should care about what Apple does.

http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

Apple's power was never that it was the underdog; it was great in giving us a vision we could care about. Apple has no power if they can't persuade us of anything. We do not have to agree to give up our free choice. Apple isn't using intimidation or force. It is merely saying, "This is who we are and what we believe in. What we believe in results in what we do, what we choose and how we create. We hope that you like what we make."

Apple needs to be closed so it can follow its dream. If that dream does not satisfy us, then Apple will pass away. This means that Apple must prove itself every day; It must tell us why we should believe in it. It must tell us why HTML 5 and H.264 is better than Flash.

Pragmatic people know that Apple is speaking about a few years from now, because Apple always lives ahead of reality. It lives in the future in a closed system, because that is how you fashion reality out of dreams.

Openness defocuses you; it erodes your consecration; no longer do you pursue excellence. Tell me why I should give a damn about Linux? Why should I give Linux developers any control over me? No one has ever told me that.

I made a mistake in the following statement: Openness defocuses you; it erodes your consecration; no longer do you pursue excellence.

I misused the word Consecration, when I really meant Concentration.

I was thinking about this, later.

An artist is a visionary; his vision is closed up inside his head. There is no ecosystem until he creates it. An artist, to create a reality, must deal with universal laws. If the artist is a sculptor then he must choose the stone and carve away the extraneous matter. The dust becomes part of his lungs and shortens his life.

Steve Jobs is the chief visionary at Apple, but he can only do what is physically possible. He must to work with programmers, designers, craftsmen and managers to create the reality. He must target markets and design products which will appeal to them.

If he guesses wrong then there is hell to pay at Apple. Steve has made mistakes and created products which were based on faulty premises: the Apple Cube is merely one example. Steve doesn't give up on designs through; the Mac Mini is the Apple Cube's descendant.

An artist must be far sighted; he must see what is years in the future, so he can start putting pieces of the puzzle into place, now. This is what Steve did with the iTunes Music store. He needed to create and improve WebObjects, Quicktime, WebKit, AAC and other technologies to even make the store possible. Many of these technologies took ten years before they were practical. Many tech writers were puzzled at the time; they had no idea where Apple was going.

Did this vision evolve over time or did Steve and his other visionaries know where they were going in the beginning?

If they did know where they were going, then they had to use a closed system which locked out the extraneous systems. If the methods used in Flash or Microsoft Windows are the wrong way of doing things, then Apple must pursue the right way. This is why artists are known to be eccentric: they are pursuing the vision, not the current reality. Artists are always confronting what is currently popular.

The problem is not with what Apple is doing or where it is heading; Apple must communicate the vision. It must tell us why it is doing what it is doing. If we know where Apple will take us, we might want to climb onto the clue train.

"Although you are right about no one knowing what the future of the App Store is, the concern I still have is that all computer companies will start closing their ecosystems. The capitalist in me understand this is great for them and each can create mini-monopolies and charge through the nose."

Ah. This is where we differ. It's the total system which is Free Enterprise, not the participants, not the capitalists. As long as there is competition, markets can work.

The markets need not be perfect, merely self correcting. Capitalists can intend to be monopolistic, but this rarely happens when the government stays out of enterprise. When the government interferes, they often guess wrong and create havoc. Companies do not control the marketplace for long. They can pursue their narrow self interest, but that does not necessarily mean they win. Steve Jobs has a reputation as being a hippy who favors social democracy, but, so long as he pursues excellence, he is acting in the best interests of his customers and the economy as a whole. Hence, his politics are irrelevant.

Markets are often imperfect, because they are constantly in motion. We could probably have a long discussion about why Microsoft rose to power, despite ample evidence of its incompetence. I maintain that it was external events which caused that rise. American companies in the 70's and 80's were still semi-cartelized and bureaucratic from the Roosevelt administration's National Recovery Act; world competition would strip that elitist attitude and complacency away, later. Bill Gates ruthlessly exploited the power and favor which the IT departments in Enterprise gave him. But, the trends which gave Microsoft its power are over; it is fighting a rear guard action to hang onto its monopoly and failing miserably. Its paid pundits have done a good job of covering up reality. But, reality always wins.

"But the free market person in me understands within a few years there could be a few app store providers and they could all act as censors. "

As I said, self censorship (or discrimination) is a good thing; it is how companies do market differentiation. I don't believe that Apple intends to completely close down the App Store, but it is selecting, quite imperfectly, what it is wiling to sell. Can you grasp the distinction between that and censorship?

If Apple fails to provide what the market wants, then the App store will suffer from its prior customers leaving it.

Apple is not censoring when it demands an end to cross platform Apps and that developers use its IDE: XCode. It is merely defining the terms on which it will compete with Wintel. It is saying that it only wants developers who use Apple's guidelines and that these guidelines are superior to anything that Wintel has. Apple has made a stance and the market will decide who is correct.

You could also say that Apple is adjusting to reality: Microsoft and Wintel are the beleaguered ones now. Apple can unapologetically take a leadership position. Many of the complaints are from sour grapes.

"Although I am hopeful Google will always keep its app marketplace open, what if they too decide to close their store and approve all apps?"

How do we know that will happen? Google seems to have set events into motion which will prevent it. The FOSS community is likely to hijack the Chrome OS, despite Google's best efforts. It will be much easier to bypass Google's Web centric plans, because Chrome is Ubuntu Linux underneath. Google will not be damaged by FOSS's action: Chrome will be much wider spread than if FOSS leaves Chrome alone. I am betting that Chrome will strip away most of the lower end consumer market and many of the Windows XP users.

"Perhaps what is most scary about the iPhone for example is the device had no cut-and-paste and no multitasking and no keyboard and still it took off. "

Steve Jobs said that one of the reasons that Apple got into the mobile phone market was that every one of Apple's managers hated their phones. This was a market they could exploit, because, they believed that, most people felt the same way. The iPhone didn't need to be perfect to compete. It just needed to be much better in what people wanted. A lack of cut-and-paste, multitasking and a physical keyboard were minor, technical issues to most people. In short, the entire Smart Phone market screwed up royally; they weren't giving people what THEY valued.

"Having a closed app store is a nuisance – it is important to those people who believe in computing freedom and who understand just what Apple is doing behind the scenes."

I disagree that customers care about these issues. This is a political dispute. What the customers want is for their needs to be satisfied. The proof in the marketplace is that Apple is doing an acceptable job.

But, I believe that Apple has big changes coming which will allow the customers to be served better and more personally. This will eliminate the censorship issue. If people want to buy crappy, buggy, smutty Apps, then apple will allow them to do it.

This demand for computing freedom is a developer revolt. The people who grew up in the Wintel and Linux markets want to apply what they learned there to the Apps store. Apple has always applied stringent guidelines to Macintosh applications, this is why Mac Apps have tended to be much better. We Mac users are fussy, too; we tend not to buy Apps which look or act too much like Windows.

"The comments in this post have shown me and others just how passionate many are regarding the fact that what I consider to be a closed ecosystem can equally be construed as a safe ecosystem which protects users from the malicious software PC users are faced with."

You are responding to problems which never appeared on the Mac. We Mac Users have no reason to fear that Apple will be intentionally exploitive; that is not their history. Apple has been the underdog, so it has had to provide users with what they needed in their niches. Apple has also needed to grow the marketplace by serving new customers better than Wintel. It has been slowly moving into new niches and serving them better than the competition.

Since the original iMac, Apple has been appealing to the upper end of the consumer market and is now making moves on Small to Medium sized Businesses. Its consumer electronic devices have served the customers better than the existing manufacturers. I don't see that changing anytime soon. What is to be feared in that?

It's been a couple days and you still haven't posted this, so I am resubmitting it with my later thoughts.


"Although you are right about no one knowing what the future of the App Store is, the concern I still have is that all computer companies will start closing their ecosystems. The capitalist in me understand this is great for them and each can create mini-monopolies and charge through the nose."


Ah. This is where we differ. It's the total system which is Free Enterprise, not the participants, companies or the capitalists. As long as there is competition, markets can work.


The markets need not be perfect, merely self correcting. Capitalists can intend to be monopolistic, but this rarely happens when the government stays out of enterprise. When the government interferes, they often guess wrong and create havoc. Companies do not control the marketplace for long. They can pursue their narrow self interest, but that does not necessarily mean they win. Steve Jobs has a reputation as being a hippy who favors social democracy, but, so long as he pursues excellence, he is acting in the best interests of his customers and the economy as a whole. Hence, his politics are irrelevant.


Markets are often imperfect, because they are constantly in motion. We could probably have a long discussion about why Microsoft rose to power, despite ample evidence of its incompetence and dishonesty. I maintain that it was external events which caused that rise.


American companies in the 70's and 80's were still semi-cartelized and bureaucratic from the Roosevelt administration's National Recovery Act; world competition would strip away that elitist attitude and complacency, later. Bill Gates ruthlessly exploited the power and favor which the IT departments in Enterprise gave him. But, the trends which gave Microsoft its power are over; it is fighting a rear guard action to hang onto its monopoly and failing miserably. Its paid pundits have done a good job of covering up reality. But, reality always wins.


"But the free market person in me understands within a few years there could be a few app store providers and they could all act as censors. "


As I said, self censorship (or discrimination) is a good thing; it is how companies do market differentiation. I don't believe that Apple intends to completely close down the App Store, but it is selecting, quite imperfectly, what it is wiling to sell. Can you grasp the distinction between that and censorship?


If Apple fails to provide what the market wants, then the App store will suffer from its prior customers leaving it.


Apple is not censoring when it demands an end to cross platform Apps and that developers use its IDE: XCode. It is merely defining the terms on which it will compete with Wintel. It is saying that it only wants developers who use Apple's guidelines and that these guidelines are superior to anything that Wintel has. Apple has made a stance and the market will decide who is correct.


You could also say that Apple is adjusting to reality: Microsoft and Wintel are the beleaguered ones now. Apple can unapologetically take a leadership position. Many of the complaints are from sour grapes.


"Although I am hopeful Google will always keep its app marketplace open, what if they too decide to close their store and approve all apps?"


How can we know that? Google seems to have set events into motion which will prevent it. The FOSS community is likely to hijack the Chrome OS, despite Google's best efforts. It will be much easier to bypass Google's Web centric plans, because Chrome is Ubuntu Linux underneath. Google will not be damaged by FOSS's action: Chrome will be much wider spread than if FOSS leaves Chrome alone. I am betting that Chrome will strip away most of the lower end consumer market and many of the Windows XP users.


"Perhaps what is most scary about the iPhone for example is the device had no cut-and-paste and no multitasking and no keyboard and still it took off. "


Steve Jobs said that one of the reasons that Apple got into the mobile phone market was that every one of Apple's managers hated their phones. This was a market they could exploit, because, they believed that, most people felt the same way. The iPhone didn't need to be perfect to compete. It just needed to be better in what people wanted. A lack of cut-and-paste, multitasking and a physical keyboard were minor, technical issues to most people. In short, the entire Smart Phone market screwed up royally; they weren't giving the people what THEY valued.


"Having a closed app store is a nuisance – it is important to those people who believe in computing freedom and who understand just what Apple is doing behind the scenes."


I disagree that customers care about these issues. This is a political dispute. What the customers want is for their needs to be satisfied. The proof in the market is that Apple is doing an acceptable job.


But, I believe that Apple has big changes coming which will allow the customers to be served better and more personally. This will eliminate the censorship issue. If people want to buy crappy, buggy, smutty, Windows looking, cross platform Apps, then perhaps Apple should allow them to do it. But, once the new users get acquainted with Mac Apps which adhere to the guidelines, can Windows dreck be sold?


This demand for computing freedom is a developer revolt. The people who grew up in the Wintel and Linux markets want to apply what they learned there to the Apps store. Apple has always applied stringent guidelines to Macintosh applications, this is why Mac Apps have tended to be much better. We Mac users are fussy, too; we tend not to buy Apps which look or act too much like Windows.


"The comments in this post have shown me and others just how passionate many are regarding the fact that what I consider to be a closed ecosystem can equally be construed as a safe ecosystem which protects users from the malicious software PC users are faced with."


You are responding to problems which never occurred on the Mac. We Mac Users have no reason to fear that Apple will be exploitive; that is not their history. Apple has been the underdog, so it had to provide users with what they needed in their niches. Apple has also needed to grow the marketplace by serving new customers better than Wintel. It has been slowly moving into new niches and serving them better than the competition.


Since the original iMac, Apple has been appealing to the upper end of the consumer market and is now making moves on Small to Medium sized Businesses. Its consumer electronic devices have served the customers better than the existing manufacturers. I don't see this changing, anytime soon. What is to be feared in that?


PS
We could also have an interesting discussion on why Open Source started. It was a response to Microsoft's monopoly. Even free market advocates can disapprove of how semi-cartelized and bureaucratic businesses (Corporatism or Italian Fascism) foisted an inferior OS on us in the name of compatibility. Microsoft's behavior in the OS/2 affaire was atrocious.


But, Socialists co-opted this issue, so that Open Source became anti-business in general, rather than anti-Microsoft. Now, they attack Apple who never had monopolistic tendencies. Apple isn't about the money or the market; it is about pursuing its dream of excellence.

"I got it...The company makes amazing products and understands the UI better than all and understands design and technology and marketing batter than all of the competitors.
Even though I sometimes joke about Apple knowing what is best for me "

Steve Jobs has guessed wrong before.

Also, in trying to extend into new markets, Apple may be neglecting it's existing users. Recall the flap about design awards at WWDC being about the iPhone platform, not the Mac. Steve replied to the criticism by saying that the Mac will get its time in the spotlight, soon enough.

"In hindsight the problem for these companies was likely that the engineers were the ones designing the UIs. There was no central planning or thought to how to make devices that were a delight to use – instead of a chore."

This is the value of competition. The people who were stifling the Smart Phone market were the mobile phone ISPs who were owned by monopoly Local Bells. They intentionally used restrictive technologies and frequencies to lock people into their system. It takes someone from outside the system to break that up. It is broken up now, but the technologies aren't in place to take advantage of the change.

"But now that Apple is no longer an underdog ... things have changed. We should all be concerned that other tech companies just don’t seem to have the mojo they need to compete with Apple in the device business."

Are you afraid that Apple will be corrupted by a lack of competition?

There have been "good" monopolies who's huge market share did not corrupt them. Alcoa Aluminum is one. Every technological gain, which lowered manufacturing costs, prompted them to drop the price of aluminum.

So long as Apple is focused on excellence, not money or market share, they will be a "good" monopoly. Eventually, Apple's competitors will shed their anti-completive ways and borrow from Apple's methods. But, first, they have to understand what Apple is doing. Copying Microsoft's business plan will not help them.

"Ironically the Nokia N800 tablet in many ways is a better device than the iPad,... probably no one other than me ... ever heard of this device."

Apple sells the whole ecosystem, not a piece of hardware. Many people are nuts about the hardware and forget about the rest which makes a product a joy to use. Apple doesn't. The iPad build on the iPhone and the iPod touch with 200 thousand apps at the start. Apple is delivering a product mix which Nokia cannot compete against.

Apple is quite conservative in its initial products. The original iPhone was an underpowered device in order to get the price down. The same is true of the iPad. Three years from now, the iPad will have RAM Cortex A9 or A10 dual core processors. Apple will be moving to 64 bit for its phone when the technology gets cheap enough. This will take time because a mobile phone demands an entirely different set of priorities from a computer.

"Regarding censorship, the example worth looking at is why Apple would delete 5,000 “sexy” iPhone apps and leave in Sports Illustrated"

I'm not connected to Apple. I have no explanation for some of its actions. Apple can get things wrong. Perhaps, the person reviewing that app was on the rag.

"I do disagree with point you make, “If Apple fails to provide what the market wants, then the App store will suffer from its prior customers leaving it.”"

That, of course, depends on whether there is a better place for Apple customers to go to. Let's say that Apple's critics are right; doesn't that provide an opportunity for a competitor?

" I/we are locked in whether we like it or not. "

In the short term that is true, but that may not be true in three to five years. You may be in the market again and be forced to judge the relative merits of competing systems, none of which are perfect.

"We take the good with the bad as we do with any purchase but once again, I wonder, is this too much power ... to be in the hands of a single individual or company?"

Any company must position itself in the marketplace. Its products cannot be "all things to all people." So, Apple must choose its target markets, carefully.

Apple is competing like crazy and has no monopoly position to defend; therefore, it cannot be said to have too much power. Does Walmart have too much power over what it is willing to sell?

I believe that Apple is trying to extend the computer market to people who fear or dislike computers. Any such device, like the iPad, will necessarily neglect the needs of Apple's existing computer base. The App store needs to appeal to both Apple's old time users plus its newbies. It seems as though Apple is choosing the latter, for the moment.

I don't believe that Apple has its ducks in a row yet, so it can't talk about its plans. We have to read between the lines of what Steve Jobs says. I believe big changes are coming to the App store, but I haven't any proof of that. I'm just saying to be patient.

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