Hypocritical? Apple Comes out as Pro Net-Neutrality

Apple, like much of Silicon Valley is pro Net Neutrality. In a letter titled: In the Matter Restoring Internet Freedom sent to the FCC today, the company laid out all the reasons we need an open Internet.

Here are the salient points:

  1. An open internet ensures that hundreds of millions of consumers get the experience they want, over the broadband connections they choose, to use the devices they love, which have become an integral part of their lives.
  2. We work hard to build great products, and what consumers do with those tools is up to them—not Apple, and not broadband providers. 
  3. Consumers must be allowed to access the lawful internet content,applications, and services of their choice.
  4. No paid fast lanes. Broadband providers should not create paid fast lanes on the internet.
  5. Broadband providers should meaningfully disclose the traffic management and network performance of consumer connections.
  6. Simply put, the internet is too important to consumers and too essential to innovation to be left unprotected and uncertain.

The question worth asking is whether some of these issues are hypocritical. After all, iOS has become one of the most important distribution platforms in the technology world. We’ve been hearing for years that the web is dead and that apps are where all the time is spent.

Moreover, if you actually want to monetize your consumer and even business software, you are forced to have it placed in the App Store – Apple’s App Store.

Look at the details.

Apple users spend 2.5 times more than Android users on in-app purchases. Moreover, although we are sure this statement may be offensive to some, the plain truth is Android is for poor people. The stats tell us this is the case. Yes, there are exceptions – people who don’t want a closed ecosystem such as techies and the like might choose Android as well but often they aren’t picking their phone because of price.

Bottom line, to make money in apps,you HAVE to be in the app store.

The good news is Apple is pro Net Neutrality, a level playing field for all.

Except this isn’t the case. FaceTime has a tremendous advantage over other apps – it has had greater access to the underlying hardware – far longer than other developers.

Other browser vendors are forced to use the Safari browser at their core.

iMessage isn’t available outside the Apple ecosystem – likewise for many other Apple network-effect solutions such as photo sharing.

If the Internet must be open, shouldn’t these important apps and services be open to non-Apple users?

Finally, apps have to be approved by Apple. We can go to any website we want through any broadband service provider but we can’t access any app we want from Apple, unless they say we can.

If we look at the numbers above and if we consider the Apple Store to be as valuable to users and developers as the Internet, then we see Apple violates all the numbers above in one way, shape or form. 

Moreover, if we look at who is censoring the Internet, it isn’t broadband providers… It is fellow Silicon Valley companies like Google who block sites which they don’t agree with.

In short, it seems Net Neutrality needs to apply to Silicon Valley first – then we can worry about others.

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