Curated hypocrisy: How Google camouflages its attacks on Apple

Last week, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps published Curated Computing: Designing For The Post-iPad Era where she observed:

“What’s revolutionary about the iPad is the experience that it delivers: The iPad is a new kind of PC that ushers in an era of Curated Computing.

Not unexpectedly, this drew the attention of the anti-Apple echosystem that regards the Cupertino company as the evil incarnate who’s hellbent on destroying the “open web” by curating its users’ experience on Apple devices.

Taking the baton of anti-Apple venom from Adobe’s Lee (Go screw yourself Apple) Brimelow, Google’s newest evangelist Tim (I hate, hate Apple) Bray responded to Forrester’s “Curated Computing” notion with élan:

I shudder to the core.

In a series of tweets on Twitter, Bray piled on Apple with escalating snarkiness. Let’s review his misdirections away from Google’s own sins:

Curated computing: Who needs complexity?

Exactly, who needs complexity? Who does need complexity other than those who profit from mediating its ill effects on consumers? Who, for example, needs Byzantine complexity purposely injected into our legal, tax or health care systems? Who profits from the shameful complexity of our IT universe? Who benefits from the anti-virus industry? Who profits from the complexity of Facebook’s privacy settings, Oracle’s pricing structure or Microsoft’s SharePoint hairball? Who needs the complexity of users being forced to navigate through six different Android OS versions against a permutation of dozens and dozens of carriers, handset manufacturers and devices? Google would like you to believe users are craving for this complexity, just as Microsoft tried to convince you for the last two decades.

[John @gruber answers @timbray: I think this one actually nails it: "Curated computing: Who needs complexity?" Many use cases where we *don't* need complexity. Tim Bray responds:]

Agreed, many indeed, but freedom is too high a price.

Freedom? Whose freedom? The freedom of those who directly profit from the artificial complexity to continue as they please or the freedom of users who are being taxed by these parasites? Let’s ignore the absurdity of equating Apple’s banning of proprietary Flash with the abrogation of, say, the First Amendment, a real freedom.

Curated computing: Don’t bother your pretty little head, we’ll take care of what you see.

Just like Google telling the rest of the world: “If someone forced us to [disclose how our search advertising business works], it would destroy our product.” This from a company that’s currently being investigated by the European Commission for antitrust ramifications of its opaque search ranking algorithms and the resulting 90% monopolistic share of the European search market. Google knows best.

Curated computing: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Let’s open that curtain a bit. Here’s what Bray’s bosses and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page said in their The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine a few years ago:

Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users.

We expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.

It could be argued from the consumer point of view that the better the search engine is, the fewer advertisements will be needed for the consumer to find what they want. This of course erodes the advertising supported business model of the existing search engines. We believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.

It’s not as if, a decade later, the rest of the world can see what’s behind Google’s perfectly opaque and proprietary search and advertising curtain, is it? Can you say “link farms”and SEO? Do you really know what exactly Google does with your click-stream history? Did you know Google has been snooping on European WiFi transmissions until a few days ago even though the company denied it previously? Do you really know what the man behind the curtain is doing?

Curated computing: Admire the beautiful murals on the garden walls.

Or you can go “out there” to admire the graffiti on the…ground? In Google’s walled garden of advertising, for example, “cougars and cubs are out, but sugar daddies and sugar babies are in.” Google “will take care of” your sexual proclivities.

Curated computing: Freedom is over-rated.

So are utopias.

I, for one, welcome our new curatorial overlords.

Of course, no mention of our current overloads: complexity merchants.

Curated computing: What they have right now in China.

And what they also had in China just a few years ago when Bray’s employer Google went in three-monkey style to conduct commerce, despite all manner of people pleading the overlord of search/ad business not to.

Curated computing: Just fine if you’re the curator.

Google should know, its share of the search market hovers around 65-70% and its U.S. search advertising share is over 75%. If you’re the sole “curator” of AdSense/AdWords things should be just fine.

Curated computing: Your gated-exurban-community home on the Internet.

Perhaps the most pernicious proposition of the “everything must be open” crusade is the notion that curation is bad and anti-freedom. Soldiers of this crusade confuse freedom with competition. Our museums are not football-field sized warehouses where art objects are indiscriminately dumped and our magazines and blogs are not amorphous containers of randomly selected articles. Our classrooms, restaurants, hospitals and indeed all our civilized institutions are firmly reliant on curation of one kind or another. The goal should be for curators to compete, not for curation to be declared illegal and unholy by the “open” zealots.

Who’s behind the curtain?

Just as Adobe is desperately trying to yell at the world, “Don’t buy into Apple’s walled garden, get locked into our own proprietary Flash,” so is Google trying to misdirect consumers’ attention from its own monopolistic sins to Apple’s mobile platform where 100 million users voted with their own money to enjoy 200,000 apps. The evil man behind the curtain in this scenario is not Apple’s curation, it’s the frightening prospect of Google getting cut off from search and ad revenue derived from its naked domination of the search box on top of your web browser. That, unfortunately, doesn’t sound like an appealing public cry, hence the “Curated Computing” misdirection whining.

152 thoughts on “Curated hypocrisy: How Google camouflages its attacks on Apple

  1. It is human nature to be dissatisfied. Some individuals more than others are well nigh impossible to please, no matter how much one tries to accommodate their wishes.

  2. Google is hypocritical. They want you to “have a choice” in hardware. What they fail to mention is that they want to have their android OS on all that hardware, allowing them to ensure their advertising will have a place in the future as the world moves away from desktop search.

    On a touchscreen device, the hardware does not matter nearly as much as the OS, and google wants their OS on ALL hardware.

    This is not the first time in history freedom has been used to condemn something, even though it has nothing to do with the condemned. Reminiscent of 1984 the book, where there are situations where the character is forced to reaffirm his allegiance to the state and what is “free,” similarly google are trying to leverage such a tactic, and I believe that is far more wrong than any curation apple provides for us.

    I think people are excited about these things because people realize we are at a turning point in history, and everyone wants to have a part in dictating the “laws” of this new age.

    Apple users don’t condemn android users. Android users seem to do so about apple. As apple users we enjoy our experience but don’t mind if others don’t because we know deep down that they are missing out. It seems that android users are bitter that a platform other rhan their own can have such loyalty.

    There is no us Vs them in apple culture. There is no need to associate apple though publicity as “the choice of the free world” becuase the quality of apple products and the user experience speak for themselves.

    Meanwhile google masquerades in this “righteous” guise.

  3. Google is hiding behind the “do no evil” and “open source” masks to commit nefarious activities on others. When caught it always pleaded that no harm was done and that everyone was making a fuss over nothing. Google is dangerous. It wants to control every channel of the world’s information and in doing so, it is prepared to remove every obstacle that gets into its way. What better way to endear itself to the unsuspecting public than to pretend that it is giving away free goodies to everyone? Nothing is free. Google peddles information to the highest bidder to earn obscene ads profits from advertisers, which pushes the cost to the final consumers. Also Google restricts competition on those whose space it decides to kill off. A small competitor whose product is superior to Google’s good-enough free goodies cannot be expected to ward off Google’s use of money diplomacy.

    Another potential backlash of Google’s cavalier and wild wild West method of competition is that it would transform America’s corporations into mediocre don’t-take-the-risk breed of businesses. As was exemplified by Microsoft’s monopoly over the OS market, every manufacturer that jumped on the Window’s bandwagon decided to stop innovating and to just produce commodity-type PC boxes. They contracted out the design and production of the PC boxes to Asian competitors and just slapped their labels on the boxes to distinguish themselves from the rest. In the end it is a loss to America and a gain to Asian competitors as they move up the value chain. Google is repeating the same mistake of Microsoft and this will affect badly on America’s competitiveness.

    Since Google’s stranglehold on the world’s information is enormous, the bad it could do with all the information is unimaginable. It could use its clout to punish those who oppose it. It can also punish governments and act as a Fifth Column to its own country to further its own agendas. Google is evil … its wings must be clipped before the world is trapped inside the Google’s gulag.

  4. After Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time” it wasn’t long before someone in marketing changed it to refer to happiness. Now, we all know Abe was right. And we know Steve Jobs is a smooth enough operator to not be fool enough to ignore what Abe had to say. There’s no getting around this. Not everyone is going to be happy. And… well, period. If SPJ sanctioned a Wild West style App store, the developers playing by the rules would be fowking pissed. The wild west guys wouldn’t be making any fowking money anyway. Users would be fowking confused. Apple would lose direction and have another fowking Heart Attack and SPJ would fowking get fired again. Because dispite the improbability of keeping everyone happy all of the time; it is actually quite possible to do the opposite. Does anyone wonder why it only takes a day or two to jailbreak each new iPhone OS! It’s actually a fair approximation of a free app market and doesn’t seem to be any worse than the Android market and you get the ‘i’m an outlaw’ kind of sensation that comes along with ‘livin on the edge’. There, freedom. That’s what the real Wild West was, a place beyond the law. And a hellava lot freer than most are comfortable with.  The App Store?… or… The Wild West? You need to choose, because; You. Can’t. Have. Both. Else everybody would be happy all of the time and neither Abe nor Steve were ever foolish enough for that nonsense.     

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. I’m going to pipe in on the “complex app” issue. I don’t think developers have avoided the “compled app” development because of fear of rejection, in fact I get the sense that fear of rejection is far less today than a year ago. (I’m willing to be wrong on that.) However, I also don’t see a market for a full fledged “Word” clone on an iPhone.

    That said, with the recent success of iWork on the iPad, I wouldn’t be surprised to see MicroSoft, or some other entity, develop an iOffice suite in the future. Pages seems to work on the iPad, but even Apple sees no benifit in bringing Pages to the iPhone.

    As for the running definition of “crappy” apps in the app store, I do think some of the outright “spam” out there in the store needs to be dealt with. Developers should have some access to the store “curators” to prevent some of the outright hijacking that is allowed to pass. I’ve seen damn near identical apps pop up, with damn near identical icons. That isn’t fair to the author of the original app, and Apple should be on the front line of that fight.

    However, I don’t think apps that use WebKit and pretty much present a “app” version of a website are automatically “crap.” That’s all the USA Today app is, yet I find it wonderful. That’s all the Weather.com app is, and it too is a daily used app on my iPhone. The fact that I can get my information as either an app or a website just means I have more choice in how I access the data I need.

    Are you really, instead, suggesting that Apple needs to ban the webkit from the App development process? Is that really your primary complaint? Because I don’t understand the reference to “spam apps.” Seems to me that you’re referring to branded apps that use the web as their content source. I don’t consider either of my two examples of webkit based apps as spam.

    • “I don’t think developers have avoided the “compled app” development because of fear of rejection”

      Perhaps you’re right, but as of now, the publicly known facts are as follows:

      1) A lot of developers have publicly stated that they can’t risk investing a ton of time into an iPhone app because they can’t be sure that they will be allowed to sell it. Personally, I’ve published a small game for the iPhone to test the waters. I’ve started work on some larger projects, but I’ve since given up on them. I like writing apps for the iPhone, but unless it is something I will personally be able to use regardless of whether Apple approves it, I can’t justify investing much time into the platform.

      2) There are no complex iPhone apps in the iPhone store. The only larger third-party app for an iPhone OS device I can think of is OmniGraffle for the iPad, and that only exists because Omni was able to develop it in relatively short time thanks to the existing Mac version of the app.

      “Developers should have some access to the store “curators” to prevent some of the outright hijacking that is allowed to pass.”

      Agree 100%.

      “However, I don’t think apps that use WebKit and pretty much present a “app” version of a website are automatically “crap.””

      I didn’t mean to imply that. I’ve mentioned this type of application because many of the spammy applications are built that way, not because all of the applications built that way are spam. I should have been more clear.

      “Are you really, instead, suggesting that Apple needs to ban the webkit from the App development process? Is that really your primary complaint?”

      No, of course not.

    • “A lot of developers have publicly stated…”

      Apple has close to 200,000 App Store developers.

      I challenge you to cite 1,000th, heck even 10,000th, of that number to justify using a purposefully misleading phrase like “a lot of”. Nuts.

    • “I challenge you to cite 1,000th, heck even 10,000th, of that number to justify using a purposefully misleading phrase like “a lot of”. Nuts.”

      Do you seriously think that challenging somebody to name 200 examples, or even 20 examples for something like that is a valid argument? Are you honestly expecting me to actually spend the next hour googling for developer quotes when you know perfectly well that I’m right? Or are you actually seriously claiming that it is *not* true that a lot of developers have said that they are unable to invest a sizable amount of development time into an application without knowing whether they will be able to actually sell it to anyone?

      This isn’t just rationalizing anymore. This is, to quote yourself, “nuts.”

    • I am claiming you’re wrong, and I’m betting that you can’t name 1,000th of 200,000 developers who are giving up on the App Store. I am saying 10,000th or 1,000th of something is not “a lot”. Further, I am also claiming that 200 or 20 developers leaving the App Store for whatever reason isn’t something that’s going to doom the App Store or Apple.

    • “I am claiming you’re wrong, and I’m betting that you can’t name 1,000th of 200,000 developers who are giving up on the App Store.”

      Obviously. You are asking me to name 200 developers. The fact that I’m not going to do that is unrelated to the question of whether I’m correct; you are not making an honest argument, because you are setting up a test that can’t be met.

      How about this: you name 200 developers who have publicly stated that they are okay with investing a year of development time into an iPhone app without knowing whether Apple will approve the app. Does that sound like a fair way of responding to your argument? I hope not.

      “I am saying 10,000th or 1,000th of something is not “a lot”.”

      So you’re telling me that even if I spend the next hour looking for quotes and list 20 examples of developers who will not develop for the iPhone, you will dismiss my point. Which brings me back to what I have said earlier: you are rationalizing. It doesn’t matter what evidence there is, you will find a way of rationalizing it away. You have made your mind up, you have publicly stated it, and now nothing will change it; you are unable to back down, even when provided with evidence that contradicts your opinion. Good for you. This proves that you’re still human.

      “Further, I am also claiming that 200 or 20 developers leaving the App Store for whatever reason isn’t something that’s going to doom the App Store or Apple.”

      I did not claim it would. Why all the straw men?

      First, you “challenge” me to provide 200 examples. Now, you argue against a position I have never taken. I find your way of arguing disappointingly unconvincing.

    • @ Kontra:
      I don’t think the “nuts” is called for.

      Where did you get to “close to 200,000″ number? (My impression is that most published developers have more than one app in the store, which leads me to believe it’s more likely below 100,000. I thought I remembered Apple making a statement about this, but I cannot seem to find it.)

      @Lukas:
      I agree with Kontra that there are no signs of “A lot of developers have publicly stated that they can’t risk investing a ton of time into an iPhone app because they can’t be sure that they will be allowed to sell it.”

      There are certainly a few developers who have made vocal statements along those lines (and their point-of-view is entirely reasonable, IMO), but not “lots”. (Admittedly, it may “feel” that way because the few vocal developers are quoted/linked by lots of blogs and news sites.)

    • “Where did you get to “close to 200,000″ number?”

      Apple has passed the 100,000 developers mark long time ago. I think some time ago they had publicly announced 125,000 devs. For a quick comparison, the Android market has 1/4 of the App Store’s apps and 180,000 devs, as announced by Google yesterday. It’d be highly unlikely for Apple to have fewer than 100,000 devs as you stated.

    • “I find your way of arguing disappointingly unconvincing.”

      Lukas, that’s the second time (at least) in this thread that you’ve made a point of argument, and then denied ever making it when someone presents a contradictory statement.

      *You* used the term “a lot” to describe how many developers were unhappy with Apple’s Appstore policies. Kontra simply called you on that statement by highlighting the *fact* that as a percentage of developers out there, the number who have publicly stated they are unhappy is negligent. i.e. not “a lot”. His “challenge” as you put it, was simply for you to back up your claim.

      The idea that this state of affairs would damage Apple, while perhaps not explicit in your argument, was most certainly *implicit* in your argument, so to deny that on the basis that you never actually said those specific words is grossly disingenuous.

      Don’t bother replying. This thread has become a nonsense and I won’t be coming back to it.

    • Lukas- Tim Bray said it best. I admire the vigor of your language. And you are certainly entitled to your own opinion, even if it has paralysed your brain from thinking up your own solutions to all the conflated and infatated problems in your head. Try not to worry about the complex apps thing so much. It’s driving us nuts.

  6. Nice long fanboy rant you have there. Thing is a computer is not a museum filled with objects not to be touched. It’s a filling cabinet, a desk, a house. It’s something we own, and no one should tell us what furniture to put in it.

    • If you choose to buy a house in with covenant restrictions you will be told what is and is not OK to put on your house. And lots of people love to live in these developments.

      What’s happening here is that “freedom” fighters are angry that covenant subdivisions even exist. Even though they have plenty of non-covenant bound properties to choose from they are stomping their feet and insisting that that everyone else drop covenants for THEIR freedom. Other people’s freedom to choose such a living condition be damned

    • Unfortunately for you, you don’t get to define what a specific ‘thing’ a specific vendor is selling you. iPad is what Apple says/sells it is. You’re, of course, free to not buy it. But you don’t get to re-define it for Apple. If you think you bought a Swiss Army knife, perhaps you bought the wrong product.

    • I want to build a swimming pool but I’m not allowed to do so for some phony reasons: shortage of water, hospital nearby, noise disturbance, whatever. I mean, this is *my* house! Why is the local council so *evil*?

    • No, if the council OK’ed you to build your new house, and you followed the planning guidelines, and then the council change the rules, and knock your newly built house down because it is retroactively applying those rules, then maybe the local council is evil.

      See, I can do shit analogies too. Now, where’s that museum?

  7. Apparently Tim Bray missed the corporate orientation session on his first day at Google. Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. What is that if not curation taken to the nth degree?

    • You’re being mislead by the word curation. Google understands that the internet is infinite, that shelf space is not an issue, and lets you surf all of that.

      When these articles have been talking about curation, it’s more akin to censorship.

    • And you’re misled by the word “organize”. It implies there is a single rational order to things and Google is just sussing it out properly. Every organization scheme entails a world view and an agenda, hidden or not, for good or ill. PageRank is not exempt.

    • So Google just couldn’t find enough ‘shelf space’ when it censored Chinese content then or can’t find enough shelf space for cougars now?

    • Kontra – Google acknowledges the censorship, it did so from the outset.

      They don’t get PR shills to dress it up as “curation”.

  8. straw man. It is perfectly possible to present a “curated” computing experience that people can nevertheless improve for themselves, should they choose.

    “‘open’ zealots” aren’t zealous about making computing hard or making people drink from the fire hose. But if they buy a car — even a fancy Prius that seems to be the poster child for the iPad car analogy — no law prevents them from messing with any part of that car. They can disassemble it, turn it into a planter, replace the fuel injection regulator with one that beeps, whatever.

    If Apple wanted to, they could sell iPads, give away an open source compiler toolchain and allow people to install apps in ways other than the App Store. They would still be offering a “curated experience” to those who want it, and those who don’t could opt out and install non-curated software. This situation exists de facto with jailbreaking. The difference is that jailbreakers are treated as criminals, and Apple is actively hostile to them.

    In other areas of human/computer experience, openness and transparency exist side-by-side with curation. Websites like Reddit and Slashdot curate the experience of news gathering; they run on top of an open-source technology platform that runs on commodity hardware. This does nothing to corrupt the experience of reading Reddit or Slashdot. (Or Google News, a parallel, closed-source stack, which is really closer to the right analogy. No third-party developer making non-App Store apps will ever affect someone who only downloads from the App Store.)

    Apple makes really excellent products. I don’t argue that they have every right to do what they’re doing under our laws. They even have legitimate concerns about third-party apps making the system unstable and people blaming them when it’s not their fault. (Through most of personal computing’s history, companies have mitigated that risk by publishing standards and offering software certification. The App Store is a kind of certification that costs money; others have been free or nearly free to get.)

    However, it’s false to say that advocates of open technology are against curation. Advocates of open technology are against unconditionally limiting individuals’ choices.

    • “But if they buy a car — even a fancy Prius that seems to be the poster child for the iPad car analogy — no law prevents them from messing with any part of that car. They can disassemble it, turn it into a planter, replace the fuel injection regulator with one that beeps, whatever.”

      No law prevents you from also turning your ipad into a planter. But neither Apple or Toyota will honor your warranty or provide support if you tell them you turned their product into a planter. You could make the argument that Apple is more hostile than Toyota, but I think that is not quite the part of the picture people are complaining about.

      “Advocates of open technology are against unconditionally limiting individuals’ choices.”

      I’m still dumbfounded by this notion. The iPhone is not the only phone out there! Every individual has a choice to buy another phone.

      The thing is, consumers have spoken with their wallets, and developers, even if they disagree with Apple’s philosophy, generally admit that the user experience is better on the iPhone versus other platforms.

      It is incredibly easy to make the individual choice: as a developer, go develop for Android. As a consumer, go buy a Android phone. Explain to me why this is not a solution.

    • <>

      It’s not really different with Apple’s devices: You can disassemble it, turn it into a planter,… (there isn’t a fuel injection regulator). Note that the modified Prius may not be allowed on the roads after that. Or perhaps your modification voids the warranty. And Toyota has certainly designed parts of the Prius (e.g., the batteries) to prevent/discourage tinkering.

      Oh, and you have to pay Toyota to get their diagnostic tools.

      <>

      How so? Has Apple sued jailbreakers for their jailbreaking activities? Has the company made a statement saying that they’re criminals, or that they ought to be criminals?

      I agree Apple does play a cat-and-mouse game to keep control over the development tools for their mobile devices, and that entails preventing/discouraging jailbreaking.

      <>

      IMO, generalizations just don’t work here. Certainly, nobody’s choices are “unconditionally limited” in this context: E.g., the Apple limitations are conditional on buying Apple’s products, and there are plenty of alternatives.

      I read this article not as a claim that Apple’s model is what everyone should embrace, but as an accusation of hypocrisy on the part of Google spokespeople when it comes to claims of “freedom”.

  9. I don’t need a museum, I need a studio. It’s hard to work in a studio where you’re not allowed to use all the tools of your craft.

    • No one is making you stay at the Apple museum. There are studios for rent down the street. The problem is that people at the studios are upset because they can see all the fun other people are having at the museum.

    • No, the problem is that developers have invested into the Apple museum, only to have the curator fuck them over with changes to their agreement.

    • @kwyjibo

      Actually, it’s that the curator has fucked them over, but they refuse to leave because they know what’s going on at the studios. Otherwise, they would have picked up their artwork, given the curator the finger, and rented a studio down the street.

      (Actually, some have left the museum. The “Adobe should work on making Flash work well on Android” is the analogy of a group of artists opening a studio that gives the museum a run for its money. *Then* the curator will begin to bend.

    • No, they can’t leave because they’re already invested in the platform. I use the word invested for a reason.

      Sure, it’s their partly their fault for placing all their eggs in one basket (ie Facebook fucking Zynga over). But that doesn’t make it not a dick move.

    • Whether or not it was a “dick move” by apple is besides the point (not that I disagree).

      I think people fail to see that what they want Apple to do is what Google is doing with Android. Why, then, given the choice, are people choosing to develop for Apple and then complaining about it? People feel that Apple is the better platform, yet no credit is given to curation for that success.

    • “People feel that Apple is the better platform, yet no credit is given to curation for that success.”

      That’s because no credit goes to “curation.” Developers feel that the iPhone OS is the better platform because they can reach customers directly on the iPhone, and because it has a huge installed base. Users feel the iPhone OS is the better platform because it’s by far the most usable platform.

      One only has to browse through the App Store to find out that absolutely no “curation” is going on there. Apple is not filtering applications based on quality.

    • @Lukas

      “Users feel the iPhone OS is the better platform because it’s by far the most usable platform.”

      How do users come to this conclusion?

      “One only has to browse through the App Store to find out that absolutely no “curation” is going on there.”

      I will concede that there is not a superb curation happening, but I won’t agree that there is “absolutely no” curation. I own both a iPhone and a Android G1 phone, and the iPhone app store, while also having junk apps, does not seem nearly as bad as the Android Marketplace.

      I don’t necessarily think that the approach Apple is using is ideal. The fact that there are more junk apps now (as a percentage) confirms that it doesn’t scale. It’s quite possible that Apple may have to find some other approach in the future. But I do think the initial effort helped give the platform an image of having better quality apps than Android.

    • @Lukas:

      <>

      I rather disagree: I look at the front page of the App Store, and most of the area is taken up by “recommendations” of various sorts: Staff picks, App of the week, Hot apps, bestseller in various categories… etc.

      Each of those criteria are proxies for a notion of “quality” (not something objective, for sure).

    • @Alex

      I’m speaking more of the devices themselves than the app store. I have an iPad. It’s pretty cool. I wish I could install, say, Processing and Arduino on it so I could have a slick, portable interactive art studio. I can’t do that in Apple’s museum. For me as a user, the device seems crippled. I understand the logic behind what Apple is doing, but it leaves power users holding a lot of expensive wasted potential. Open, closed, I couldn’t care less – I just want to use *my* device the way I want to.

      The iPhone is somewhat different. Much tighter resource constraints, and they have to keep the carriers safe, so tight restrictions are more acceptable in my opinion. The iPad on the other hand does not have those requirements. And I expect Apple to transition their notebook and desktop line to the curated model in some ways before too long as well.

      Apple is exacting a heavy toll on users in exchange for ease of use, lack of maintenance, and relative safety. That’s fine for my grandmother, but kind of a bummer for me.

    • “For me as a user, the device seems crippled.”

      For any given product some users will find it somehow inadequate for their needs. Unavoidable.

      Apple is clearly not labeling iPad as a “power user gadget” as you say you’d prefer. Apple spent hundreds of millions of dollars creating the iPad, you haven’t. Clearly, gadgets specifically targeting power users don’t have as attractive ROIs. Not complicated.

    • @Kontra

      Clearly. I don’t disagree with any of that, I did buy an iPad after all. I’m not bashing Apple for not letting me have my way with the device. As I said, I understand where they’re coming from. Tight integration between the hardware and software has always been The Apple Way, and is a contributing factor to the overall quality of their products and user experience.

      The iPad is great for what it does, I just wish Apple would let me do a little more with it without having to either jailbreak it or write the software I want myself (which, as an app developer, I have the ability to do). I’m not sure why that warrants an unsolicited education on the economics of consumer electronics, but I hope you feel better about yourself now.

    • @Alex Porras:

      “How do users come to [the conclusion that the iPhone OS is the better platform because it’s by far the most usable platform]?”

      I’m guesing mainly by using iPhones of their friends. I remember when I got my first iPhone, everybody wanted to try it out, and a number of these people bought their own iPhones after playing around with mine and liking the user experience.

      “I will concede that there is not a superb curation happening, but I won’t agree that there is “absolutely no” curation.”

      Fortunately, this is quite a public process. From that, we know that Apple very rarely filters for quality. We know quite well what they filter for, because there are lists of apps that were not approved. The most common reasons for Apple to reject apps seem to be:

      - Some people will perceive it as “insulting” (e.g. a Southpark app; Dope Wars, a game; Freedom Time, an ap which contained political carricatures; or some e-books like Knife Music). That’s not filtering for quality.

      - It duplicates features already on the iPhone (e.g. Google Latitude, Google Voice, Podcaster). Not quality either.

      - Not enough features (e.g. some clock apps). This comes close to the “quality” argument, but unfortunately, the only effect it has is that people add useless features to apps, which ends up not improving quality.

      - It’s against AT&Ts contracts (e.g. Netshare). Nothing to do with quality.

      - “Sexual content” (e.g. Booty Caller, or e-readers which contain the Kama Sutra). Nothing to do with quality.

      - “Can be used to infringe on third party copyrights” (e.g. Drivetrain, a Transmission controller). Nothing to do with quality.

      - Violated Apple trademarks (e.g. Pocket God). Nothing to do with quality, every app depicting an Apple device is covered.

      Apple has banned some developers outright for spamming the App Store, and that’s a good move, and the only one I can remember that had to do with quality.

      “I own both a iPhone and a Android G1 phone, and the iPhone app store, while also having junk apps, does not seem nearly as bad as the Android Marketplace.”

      Agree, but the fact that Android is even worse doesn’t improve my experience on the iPhone.

      “But I do think the initial effort helped give the platform an image of having better quality apps than Android.”

      I agree, but I don’t think it’s due to Apple’s attempts at “curating” the App Store’s contents.

    • @David V:

      “I look at the front page of the App Store, and most of the area is taken up by “recommendations” of various sorts: Staff picks, App of the week, Hot apps, bestseller in various categories… etc.”

      Try searching for anything. Try browsing a specific category.

    • “Clearly, gadgets specifically targeting power users don’t have as attractive ROIs.”

      I don’t think anyone is arguing that Apple should have specifically targeted power users.

    • “I wish I could install, say, Processing and Arduino on it so I could have a slick, portable interactive art studio.”

      If this isn’t ‘power user’ written all over it I don’t what might be. iPhone or iPad wasn’t designed for this and they aren’t being sold or promoted as such.

      Apple could make it happen, perhaps one day will, but that day hasn’t arrived yet.

    • @Lukas:

      “Try searching for anything. Try browsing a specific category.”

      Works fine. For most categories, I get “Top paid” and “Top Free” lists. For games (the largest category), I get “New and Noteworthy”, “What’s Hot”, “What We’re Playing”, … etc. much like on the front page.

      I must be misunderstanding your point?

    • “I must be misunderstanding your point?”

      Search for “Twitter”. Look at all the apps that appear before Twitterrific, including one app which “uses the special sensors in your iPhone or iPod touch to measure your current emotional state.” Twitterrific Premium isn’t even in the first 25 results; stuff like “Touch Scan Ultimate”, a “lie detector” and “IQ scanner” is listed ahead of it.

      Browsing by category is utterly useless, because the categories are too coarse. Unless something appears in the Top Paid or Top Free lists, you can’t get to it. Instead, you get to see “awesome” stuff like tons of spammy “flirting apps.” Or “Emoji Plus”, which is listed as a “productivity app.”

      I’m not sure what you’re seeing on your iPhone, but on mine, browsing for apps is useless, and searching typically returns a ton of crap.

    • @Lukas:
      “Search for “Twitter”. Look at all the apps that appear before Twitterrific, including one app which “uses the special sensors in your iPhone or iPod touch to measure your current emotional state.” ”

      Okay, that admittedly not great. But not useless either: Lots of useful apps are still on the first screen. Also, when I type “twitter” the auto-suggest system puts “twitterific” in #3 and “twitterific premium” in #6.

      “Browsing by category is utterly useless, because the categories are too coarse. Unless something appears in the Top Paid or Top Free lists, you can’t get to it.”

      The “top” lists are not short. I have found lots of apps by browsing by category, looking at top lists, and checking out staff picks.

      I’m not disagreeing that there is room for improvement, but I do think there is some “curating” going on.

      “I’m not sure what you’re seeing on your iPhone, but on mine, browsing for apps is useless, and searching typically returns a ton of crap.”

      I don’t browse on the phone app much; I use iTunes for that. Lately, I have also used the iPad app.

  10. Tim Bray talks about his disgust for Apple while I have Google search built-into Safari on my iPhone and the Google Maps app came pre-installed.

    Is that called having your cake and eating it too?

  11. I feel like there is a unspoken sentiment in the argument against Apple’s control on the iPhone/iPad: they know they can go elsewhere, but they also know nowhere else is as good. The question, then, is: how do you think these products became so successful in the first place?

    If Apple is doing it so wrong, just let them be. Move on.

  12. “The goal should be for curators to compete, not for curation to be declared illegal and unholy by the “open” zealots.”

    Glen Beck would call this socialism but he’s an idiot. The Public Option for healthcare was just another curated choice provided by the government, a government elected by choice.

  13. Anyway, I’m sick of these analyses. I understand some people want to believe that Apple is doing a bit of curating but what Apple and Steve Jobs are doing is not ‘curation’. If it was, the App Store wouldn’t be crawling with junky apps.

    There’s no rhyme or reason to anything Apple is doing right now…some excellent apps get rejected, some crap apps get rejected but many get accepted.

    If the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch represent curated computing, I’m very disappointed.

    • Apparently a lot of people want Fart apps along with more serious ones.

      The point is that Flash, as Microsoft, Apple and Google has said, has performance, compatibility and security issues. Apple also does not want to be dependent and promote a technology which has a monopoly on the web and a history of performance issues on the Mac and PCs.

      Sure, H264 is not open, But is also not owned by one entity, rather by a group which Apple is simply one member of. Not perfect, but a better choice until something open comes along that works just as well.

    • That would be a valid argument if “Apple” were one thing, but it’s not. If Steve Jobs were doing all the app approvals himself, there probably wouldn’t be any fart apps in the app store. It’s a team of people all trying to find exactly the right balance between approving as many applications as possible (which is, after all, in their best interest) while at the same time trying to exercise some sense quality. It’s a hard line to find and no one wants to loose their job because they let the virus or hidden porn app in the App Store.

      Do you think everyone on staff likes the art in any one museum?

  14. Tim Bray: “I went to work for Google partly because I find Apple’s app-store policies intolerable…”

    Wow! How noble of you!! Thank you dear sir for your service to humanity. Some still chafe from the XML complexity, sorry, crud you brayed on humankind. All this talk about Freedom has me worried about WMDs in Cupertino. Wait a minute; is that what they call iPads?

  15. The whole concept of curation is irrelevant, it’s entirely out of date, and got obsoleted with the concept of “the internet”.

    If you need a curator, then it’s because you do not have a suitable UI to filter the content, it’s because you do not have a suitable engine to fine your content.

    This clearly isn’t the case, we do have these tools. Amazon, iTunes, Youtube et al. have shown us that this is the age of the long tail – that the only curator is the customer, and it works. In the next few years, when eReaders become the norm, you will have access to every single book ever published, instantly. The age of curation is over.

    The appstore policies aren’t about curation. They’re about control and lock in. Whereas any one of us can switch search engines at will, we’re tied down to phones with contracts, and now with our apps too, and we can’t even run the free Flash alternatives.

  16. Everyone keeps saying flash is proprietary, but that’s incorrect. Both the player, compiler and SDK are all open. I’ve been a senior flash developer for 8 years and I don’t use a single Adobe product to do it, I build all flash sites using Eclipse, which is an open source industry standard for high end flash. The specs needed to build your own player are also published by Adobe, it’s just that no-one has tried and been successful.

    Flash is open, it’s just that Adobe has a monopoly on the player. That doesn’t make the flash platform proprietary, just monopolized on the player side. Which, thankfully, is why you can build once in Flash and not worry about it behaving differently on different computers.

    • Fact: 99+% of all Flash players out there are from Adobe. Adobe alone determines the SWF data format and Flash player APIs.

      Stuff beyond that reality is just “Flash is open” noise.

  17. So what Tim Bray is saying is that instead of a single text box for Web search, we should actually have complicated “portal” pages with hundreds or even thousands of links?

  18. I think this essay is conflating a few ideas, mainly due to the unclear definition of what it actually is arguing against. It’s not “Apple” against “everything must be open”. There are many different points of criticism against Apple; simply labeling them all extremist and discounting them as a whole is a dishonest argument.

    Specifically:

    “The goal should be for curators to compete, not for curation to be declared illegal and unholy by the “open” zealots.”

    The common argument against the App Store isn’t so much that it should be illegal for Apple to curate its contents, but that it shouldn’t be the only curation of content for iPhone OS devices. The problem here isn’t that Apple decides what goes into the App Store. The problem is that there is only one App Store. As a developer, that puts me in a difficult position. I can either invest half a year of my life into a product with the chance that I will be unable to sell it, or I can ignore the iPhone; if I do decide to write an iPhone app and don’t get into the App Store, my investment was a total loss.

    As a result, even after three generations of hardware, there are almost no complex iPhone apps. It simply doesn’t make sense for most developers to invest the time into one.

    I should also point out that Apple is utterly failing as a curator. Every single time I search for something, the search results are full of spam applications. Most of the applications in the App Store — especially the ones that appear for common search terms — are worthless. Apple’s closed system unfortunately isn’t protecting us from a crappy experience.

    The article is mischaracterizing the goals of many of the people it seems to argue against, and vastly overstating the advantages of Apple’s walled garden for its customers.

    • I completely agree and concur with the sentiment that the following message impresses upon readers of this blog.

      Take the case of the iPad, par example.

      I disliked the iPad at first, now I like it enough to get it to boost my productivity.

      Why the sudden change of mood?

      Typical hypocritical views of a consumer?

      Not so, I say. Neither did the change happen because of anything Apple has done or not done, but just because everybody big like Time Inc are moving very energetically towards the HTML 5 + CSS 3 + Javascript bandwagon, as was seen in the Google conference that just opened. Which will make Apple´s curation obsolete before birth – I will personally develop Web applications myself for the device and so will everyone else, big or small – mainstream or alternative.

      Fact is, Apple´s own software for the iPad is kind of limited, while the web application equivalents work and fight better for user satisfaction. It is a change that

      However what I dislike most is using concepts like “curation” and so forth that are clearly doomed for failure. And meant for middle-men like Daring Fireball´s Gruber and the author of this blog to shout about. I personally sense that I must resist these folks from gaining too much influence and pushing everyone into neat little boxes of opinion, habit and usage of any computing device.

    • Do you know of any device that has multiple lines of “curation of content” that’s even remotely as good, profitable and successful as the iTunes/App Store?

      “there are almost no complex iPhone apps”

      Do you know of any other mobile app store that has more “complex” apps than the App Store?

      And am I to understand that App Store customers are simply duped by Apple because on some plane of reality most of the apps therein are actually “worthless”?

    • I do not, in fact, agree that Apple is doing a good job at curating App Store content. They don’t curate App Store content at all. They allow pretty much *everything* into the store. The few exceptions are not based on lack of quality, but on content (for example, the application contains content that some people will find insulting) and type (for example, the application duplicates existing functionality).

      Pointing out that other platforms are also doing a poor job is not a good argument in favor of the iPhone. Obviously, there are no complex applications for Android, either, but then, Android is a younger platform, and current Android sales indicate that there wouldn’t be a sufficiently large market for such an application. But even if Android had no such excuses: the fact that the competition is failing as well does not excuse Apple’s failure. As an iPhone owner, it really doesn’t immediately matter to me how poorly Android is doing. What matters to me is that I pick up my iPhone, search for something in the App Store, and 90% of the results are spam. What matters to me is that I can’t find a usable text editor with SVN integration. What matters to me is that there is no great solution for editing Word documents. The fact that this would also be the case on Android offers me no consolation.

      And no, you are not to understand “that App Store customers are simply duped by Apple”. I’m not sure where you got that impression, but I am quite sure that I have said nothing of the sort, especially since I myself am one of these customers. I was responding to the points you have raised in your essay; I was not making a blanket statement about Apple or their customers. The world is more complex than “either you agree with everything Apple does, or you think iPhone owners are being duped by Apple.”

    • I invite you to consider the fact that your expectations of “complex” apps, editing of proprietary file formats like MS Word with fidelity or text editors with SVN integration on a 3.5″ mobile touch screen are the source of your problem rather than any inherent issue with the iPhone. Neither the iPhone, nor the Nexus One for that matter, make toast. They weren’t quite designed to. What of it?

    • “I invite you to consider the fact that your expectations of “complex” apps, editing of proprietary file formats like MS Word with fidelity or text editors with SVN integration on a 3.5″ mobile touch screen are the source of your problem rather than any inherent issue with the iPhone.”

      If you honestly think that it would be impossible to create an application that edits a Word document on an iPhone, or that there is no demand for such an application, then I invite you do consider the idea that you might be rationalizing.

    • If you honestly think there are not already applications that can edit Word files on an iPhone, then I invite you to actually put in 30 seconds of research before speaking out of the wrong orifice.

    • “If you honestly think there are not already applications that can edit Word files on an iPhone, then I invite you to actually put in 30 seconds of research before speaking out of the wrong orifice.”

      Please note the word “great” in “there is no great solution for editing Word documents.” I know that there are ways of editing word documents. They don’t work well. Implementing a good .DOC parser is hard, and so far, no company seems willing to invest the time it takes into creating one for an iPhone application.

      As an aside, I think the insult is quite uncalled for. A lot of people are taking criticism of Apple way too seriously.

    • “The goal should be for curators to compete, not for curation to be declared illegal and unholy by the “open” zealots.”

      They can. They don’t all have to compete on the iPhone though. There’s many other platforms out there. I disagree that Apple shouldn’t be the only one to curate their platform. After all, it works fine that Sony is the one who curates the PS3 platform, Microsoft the 360, and Nintendo the Wii; nobody expects Nintendo to allow Microsoft or Sony to have control of their platform.

      I also would argue that no complex apps are developed for the iPhone. What kind of app is missing that people want for their iPhone?

      I do agree that Apple could definitely improve their App Store, and I do empathize with how antagonistic they can be toward developers. However, though they have failed to protect consumers from a completely crappy experience, it’s arguably better than what’s available for the competition. One thing I’ve noticed is that I don’t have to worry about viruses or malware in the apps I download.

      I think it ultimately comes down to control: Apple does not want to relent control of its platform and developers do not want to relent control of what they develop for the platform.

    • “After all, it works fine that Sony is the one who curates the PS3 platform”

      Comparing the iPhone to a toy does it a disservice. Obviously we don’t particularly care about games on the PS3, but then, we don’t use PS3s to organize our lives.

      “I also would argue that no complex apps are developed for the iPhone”

      Name some examples of complex apps? The only reasonably complex app for an iPhone OS device I can come up with from the top of my head would be OmniGraffle for the iPad, and that only exists because Omni was able to port it from the Mac.

      “it’s arguably better than what’s available for the competition”

      That doesn’t make my experience better.

      “One thing I’ve noticed is that I don’t have to worry about viruses or malware in the apps I download.”

      There have been cases where applications sent the user’s address book the the developer without the user’s knowledge, but you are correct that Apple generally does a good job protecting people from malware. I’m not arguing that they shouldn’t do that.

    • @Lukas

      “Comparing the iPhone to a toy does it a disservice.”

      You’re calling the PS3 a toy? That’s the rambling of a clown who has lost sight of what is actually being discussed here.

    • I would call PS3 a toy, a powerful one but still a plaything for the digitally media-addicted, but then again the last three computer games I played were “Broken Sword : The Angel of Death”, “Diablo 2″ and “Settlers 2 : Anniversay Edition”

      All excellent games but I am not a connoisseur of these matters.

      Installing Linux on PS3 has been disabled and PS3 is solely marketed as an entertainment device, even with storage, internet, dvd etc.. – all of these features give the user only the benefit of being entertained. Not a large amount of people use PS3 to store critical files, to visit websites for productivity related causes or watch educational DVD-s – on the contrary. And as such it is a toy. Can I please get to be the clown, no? But I should love to..

    • “You’re calling the PS3 a toy?”

      You’re doing actual work on a PS3? You’re organizing your life on a PS3? If so, I humbly submit that it is not I who is the clown, but the person who buys a videogame with the intention of using it for work. If not, I’m not sure why you feel the urge to call *me* a clown for pointing out that the PS3 is a toy.

      The PS3 is a console. You hook it up to your TV if you want to play games. In other words, it’s a toy. Comparing it to something like the iPhone ignores the important role the iPhone plays in organizing its owner’s life.

    • @Lukas

      “Comparing it to something like the iPhone ignores the important role the iPhone plays in organizing its owner’s life”

      Entertainment and relaxation plays a pretty important part in my life and lots of other people. The hardware and software capabilities of the two devices (games, films, music, photos, web, TV on demand etc.) are not so different, they’ve just had their focus shaped in slightly different ways by their respective manufacturers.
      If you are unable or unwilling to recognise the similar device/appliance nature of the iPhone and PS3, and to therefore deny the similarities in their respective software distribution channels (one of which is being subjected to ridiculous levels of hysteria, one of which is not), then I say again that you have lost sight of what is being discussed here.

    • Lukas you’re starting to trip over your own arguments.

      You argue that Apple shouldn’t be the only curator for the iPhone and that this is somehow preventing you from finding an appropriate text editor (even though a text editor that does what you want would have no problem being approved), but then just disregard the fact that other platforms have the same problem by saying that their poor showing doesn’t excuse the iPhone. If that’s true, what exactly are you arguing? That Apple should be forced to build “more complex applications” for you? There’s nothing stopping you or anyone else from building the text editor of your dreams, but even if they were on iPhone, there’s nothing stopping anyone from building an Android version.

      You argue the PS3 is different because it’s a “toy,” but then define a toy as a device meant primarily for entertainment. By that definition, an iPhone *is* a toy for most people. You’re the one making this arbitrary distinction between the two. It seems to be based on the potential for usage you see for the iPhone, but as you point out, the PS3 also has a lot of potential (in fact the US military bought a stack of them to build a super-computer with). In fact, you could do most office jobs on a PS3. Just plug in a keyboard and mouse and starting using web-apps.

      In short, you think the iPhone should do what YOU want it to do and are creating these entirely arbitrary points of reference to support it. As others have said over and over, if it doesn’t do what you want it to do, you shouldn’t buy one.

    • “Entertainment and relaxation plays a pretty important part in my life”

      Nothing I have said in any way disputes that.

      “If you are unable or unwilling to recognise the similar device/appliance nature of the iPhone and PS3″

      Nothing you have said makes me in any way doubt the obvious fact that one of them is a toy, while the other is a device that organizes our lives. This is made quite obvious by how people react to Sony’s control of the PS3, and how they react to Apple’s control of the iPhone. The two devices fill very different spots in our lives, and thus we apply different rules to the two.

      Your argument that people should be happy with Apple’s control of the iPhone because they don’t mind Sony’s control of the PS3 actually underlines that most people don’t use the two devices in the same way, and don’t view them in the same light.

    • “Lukas you’re starting to trip over your own arguments.”

      The fact that you don’t seem to understand my arguments doesn’t mean that I’m tripping over them :-)

      Let me try to answer your questions.

      “You argue that Apple shouldn’t be the only curator for the iPhone and that this is somehow preventing you from finding an appropriate text editor”

      To be clear, here is my argument as it pertains to complex applications on the iPhone: Apple’s App Store is the only way developers can get applications onto the iPhone. Apple has a somewhat non-obvious approval process (many applications that should have had no problem being approved were, in fact, not approved). Thus, it makes no sense for a developer to invest a lot of time into a complex application, because there is a risk that the developer might never be able to actually sell the application.

      “but then just disregard the fact that other platforms have the same problem”

      I’m not using other platforms. I’m using an iPhone. Whether other platforms have the same problem or not is entirely irrelevant to me.

      I’m trying to understand how other platforms are relevant to my argument, and I’m guessing your point is that Android is open, yet it has the same problems as the iPhone, so the iPhone’s lack of complex applications is not caused by Apple’s control of the platform? If that is your argument, then I have already addressed it: Android has no complex applications for different reasons, mainly because of a smaller market share, which makes it harder for developers to justify investing a lot of time into Android applications, because expected sales are lower.

      “If that’s true, what exactly are you arguing?”

      Excellent question. Two things:

      1) Apple should provide a way for developers to distribute applications outside of the App Store. One solution would be to let developers sign their applications using their Apple-provided developer certificate. This would allow Apple to remotely disable malicious applications even if they were distributed outside of the App Store, while it would allow developers to distribute applications without going through Apple’s approval process.

      2) Apple should start actually curating the App Store. They should only let premium (or at least only vaguely useful) apps into the store. There are way too many spam applications in the App Store; stuff that is basically nothing but a WebKit view to a website. Allowing devs to distribute apps outside of the App Store would allow Apple to say “no” much more often.

      “That Apple should be forced to build “more complex applications” for you?”

      No, where did I say anything along those lines?

      “You argue the PS3 is different because it’s a “toy,” but then define a toy as a device meant primarily for entertainment. By that definition, an iPhone *is* a toy for most people.”

      I very much doubt that, but if you have usage statistics, I’m willing to change my mind.

      “You’re the one making this arbitrary distinction between the two.”

      Keep in mind that one is a videogame, and the other is a smartphone. I put it to you that if you think the distinctions between the two are “arbitrary”, you might be rationalizing a predetermined conclusion, rather than coming to a conclusion based on the available facts.

      “in fact the US military bought a stack of them to build a super-computer with”

      To be clear, the US military bought them because they contain subsidized cell chips. Claiming that iPhone users use their smartphones as toys, while using this as an example for why the PS3 is more than a toy is disingenuous at best, and dishonest at worst.

      “As others have said over and over, if it doesn’t do what you want it to do, you shouldn’t buy one.”

      This is a childish argument. It is based on the assumption that people should either love something absolutely, or not be allowed to be part of the club. Of all the devices available today, the iPhone offers the best combination of features, desktop integration, and ease-of-use (for me personally). So I’m using an iPhone. That doesn’t mean I have to find everything Apple does awesome. It doesn’t mean that I have to find every aspect of the iPhone perfect. It doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to point out problems with the device as I see them.

      I like most of the things Apple does with the iPhone. I don’t like some of the things they do. So I point them out. If you think I’m wrong, feel free to point out flaws in my arguments. Saying that I’m no longer allowed to be part of the iPhone club because I don’t like everything about it, however, is a bit strange.

    • “Comparing the iPhone to a toy does it a disservice. Obviously we don’t particularly care about games on the PS3, but then, we don’t use PS3s to organize our lives.”

      Well, I have heard people refer to the iPad as a toy. Besides, when one can install Linux on a PS3, how can you call that a toy? Sony disabled the feature on new PS3s, but shouldn’t that be a cause of outrage for denying FREEDOM and CHOICE?

      “Name some examples of complex apps? The only reasonably complex app for an iPhone OS device I can come up with from the top of my head would be OmniGraffle for the iPad, and that only exists because Omni was able to port it from the Mac.”

      I’m not sure what you want in an app, so I don’t know if there’s an example. When people look for apps, they don’t care about how complex it is, but rather if it fills their needs or not.

      “That doesn’t make my experience better.”

      This is where our mileage varies. Some people love the streamlined interface iPhone; others love the freedom of Android.

    • “Besides, when one can install Linux on a PS3, how can you call that a toy? Sony disabled the feature on new PS3s, but shouldn’t that be a cause of outrage for denying FREEDOM and CHOICE?”

      I’m not sure what your argument is. Are you saying that the PS3 is not a toy because you can install Linux on it, or are you saying that it is a toy because you can’t install Linux on it? Just to be clear, you actually *can’t* install Linux.

      In fact, there is a bit of outrage over Sony’s removal of the Linux option, but as I have said before, the PS3 is a toy. People don’t particularly care about freedom when it comes to a toy that they don’t use for serious things, doesn’t store any important data, and doesn’t manage their lives.

      People buy PS3s solely to play games. It’s a toy. It’s different from a smartphone.

      “I’m not sure what you want in an app, so I don’t know if there’s an example. When people look for apps, they don’t care about how complex it is, but rather if it fills their needs or not.”

      Translation: there are no complex applications.

      “This is where our mileage varies.”

      Yes. I’m arguing for the things *I* would like, and against the problems *I* am seeing. I’m not sure why this would come as a surprise to anyone.

      “Some people love the streamlined interface iPhone; others love the freedom of Android.”

      I’m not arguing for some nebulous concept of “openness” or “freedom.” I’m also not saying that I don’t like streamlined interfaces. I’m making specific arguments:

      1) Apple is not curating the App Store. Most of the applications in that store are poorly made and useless.

      2) Apple’s approval process prevents complex applications from being made, because the risk of not being approved is too big to warrant the investment.

      Responding with “some like freedom, and they should use Android” is not really a useful argument.

    • “People buy PS3s solely to play games. It’s a toy. It’s different from a smartphone.”

      The PS3 can do much more than videogames: it can play movies, show videos, music, web browsing (even with Flash), and, until Sony abitrarily removed the feature, run a full-blown operating system. Is that what you call a toy? If so, then perhaps we define what makes a toy differently. I also doubt that everybody who owns a PS3 uses it ONLY to play videogames.

      “Translation: there are no complex applications.”

      Perhaps not. I’m not sure what you want. How can I offer an example if I don’t know what type of app is missing from the App Store? Task killers?

      “Yes. I’m arguing for the things *I* would like, and against the problems *I* am seeing. I’m not sure why this would come as a surprise to anyone.”

      It’s not a problem. The problem arises when people demand that Apple cater to their whims and declares Apple EVIL and DRACONIAN for not building their products specifically to their tastes. I’m not saying you do that, but there is definitely a very vocal group that thinks Apple needs to tailor everything to what they want and stop worrying about the average consumer who just want products that work.

      I’m not arguing for some nebulous concept of “openness” or “freedom.” I’m also not saying that I don’t like streamlined interfaces. I’m making specific arguments:

      “1) Apple is not curating the App Store. Most of the applications in that store are poorly made and useless.”

      So, your argument is that Apple should be more restrictive than they already are?
      There is junk, but the junk is relatively harmless. Unlike the Android Marketplace, I have yet to hear of an app in the App Store that steals bank information from people foolish enough to trust Google’s App Store equivalent with quality assurance. It’s definitely not perfect, but even Apple admits that it’s a work in progress.

      “2) Apple’s approval process prevents complex applications from being made, because the risk of not being approved is too big to warrant the investment.”

      I do agree Apple could be clearer about what they reject.

      “Responding with “some like freedom, and they should use Android” is not really a useful argument.”

      Of course it is. If I’m in the mood for Chinese food, I don’t go to Taco Bell and demand they start serving Chinese food; I go to a Chinese restaurant even if the Taco Bell is closer and less expensive. I don’t use Linux and demand that the developers make it less ugly and more like a Mac; I just don’t use Linux ’cause it doesn’t suit me.

    • “The PS3 can do much more than videogames: it can play movies, show videos, music, web browsing (even with Flash), and, until Sony abitrarily removed the feature, run a full-blown operating system. Is that what you call a toy?”

      As you have said, Sony has removed the option to run Linux, and it never worked particularly well anyways becuase Linux didn’t have access to all the cell cores, and didn’t have access to the graphics chip. It was never suitable as a replacement for a real computer.

      I’m also going to dismiss the “web browsing” claim, because the web browser on the PS3 is a poor joke that barely works – if anything, this strenghtens my point that it is a toy. Were it not a toy, Sony would have bothered to add a proper, usable web browser to it, instead of the poor excuse for one that it currently has. Nobody bought a PS3 for this, and nobody I know ever used it after checking it out once. Web usage statistics show that people simply don’t use PS3s for browsing the web.

      This leaves viewing videos. Which, again, is entertainment, so we’re back to the “toy” aspect. But let’s make the obviously absurd assumption that you bought a PS3 so you could watch educational videos all day long, so you didn’t buy it as a toy: Even given this assumption, the part of the PS3 that is locked down is still the “toy” part; watching videos on a PS3 is actually not locked down in any meaningful sense of the word! What’s locked down about the PS3 is the *gaming* aspect of it. And people don’t mind that because it’s just games; nobody relies on the ability to play GTA IV for their daily lives. What’s locked down about the iPhone isn’t “just games”.

      If all the App Store contained was games, people wouldn’t complain. But that’s not what the iPhone is, so the comparison with the PS3 falls short.

      “The problem arises when people demand that Apple cater to their whims and declares Apple EVIL and DRACONIAN for not building their products specifically to their tastes. I’m not saying you do that”

      Agree, I don’t think I did that.

      “So, your argument is that Apple should be more restrictive than they already are?”

      Correct. The App Store approval process should be more restrictive. As it is now, Apple is not filtering for crappy apps at all. They should.

      “There is junk, but the junk is relatively harmless.

      It harms the user experience. If a new iPhone owner decides to get a Twitter app for his iPhone, opens the App Store on it, and types “Twitter” into the search box, the iPhone lists a dozen useless junk apps (“this app uses the special sensors in your iPhone or iPod touch to measure your current emotional state!”) before it lists something like Twitterrific. The same can be seen for any search term that isn’t a specific application name, and sometimes even for application names (spam apps put the names of popular apps into their descriptions in order to appear in the result lists when people search for the popular apps).

      “I have yet to hear of an app in the App Store that steals bank information”

      I haven’t argued that there are apps which steal bank information. That part of the approval process is working as well as one could hope.

      Me: “Responding with “some like freedom, and they should use Android” is not really a useful argument.”

      You: “Of course it is. If I’m in the mood for Chinese food, I don’t go to Taco Bell and demand they start serving Chinese food; I go to a Chinese restaurant even if the Taco Bell is closer and less expensive. I don’t use Linux and demand that the developers make it less ugly and more like a Mac; I just don’t use Linux ’cause it doesn’t suit me.”

      Again, this is not how the real world works. This reminds me of the clubs we used to have when we were children: you had to agree with everything the club stipulated, or you were not allowed to join. The iPhone isn’t a childish club, it’s a tool. I didn’t join your club, I bought an electronic device. I bought it because of all the available options, it’s the one device that suits my needs best. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect for me in every way, and it doesn’t mean that I am not allowed to point out the things I don’t like.

      The iPhone is a tool, not a religion. I’m using it because it is currently the best solution to a particular problem I’m having. I am not required to love every aspect of it, and the fact that I don’t love some aspects of it doesn’t mean that Android would be a better solution. Android would perhaps fix some of the things I don’t like about the iPhone, but it falls way short in other ways and is currently a worse solution for me personally than the iPhone.

      As an aside, I do own an Android device because I did want to see whether it would be a better solution for me than the iPhone, but Android’s user experience is currently in a situation that can only be described as “in various states of brokenness”.

    • @Lukas

      “I’m also going to dismiss the “web browsing” claim, because the web browser on the PS3 is a poor joke that barely works – if anything, this strenghtens my point that it is a toy.”

      Here, let me just correct that for you…

      “I’m also going to dismiss the “web browsing” claim, because otherwise people might notice that there are plenty of ‘smart’ phones with crappy browsers and their existence would invalidate my ridiculous posit that browsing ability is somehow a barometer of a device’s worthiness. That in turn could lead to my contradictory arguments coming into contact with each other, and causing a catastrophic release of bullshit/anti-bullshit that would rip a hole in the fabric of existence – if anything, this strenghtens [sic] my point that I am a clown.”

      There. Much more accurate.

    • “my ridiculous posit that browsing ability is somehow a barometer of a device’s worthiness”

      I did not claim that anywhere. Angel did, who, coincidentally, shares your opinion, not mine. I actually tend to agree with you on that particular point, and should thank you for taking my side, even though you also use the opportunity to insult me. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why you support my point, while at the same time telling me how ridiculously stupid I am.

      To recap: the PS3′s browser was offered as a reason why the PS3 should not be considered to be a toy, and I pointed out that it was not sufficiently good to make a difference either way. Whether other smartphones have crappy browsers is utterly irrelevant to my argument, a fact that anyone with a basic understanding of logic should immediately see.

      And while we’re veering into questioning each other’s intelligence, let me add that I’m not entirely sure why so many people feel the need to insult me. If my arguments are so poor, why not just refute them instead? In that vein, I would like to apologize for misspelling “strengthens”. English is not my first language.

    • If the problem is really that there is only one App Store on the iPhone OS devices then…(wait for it) Jailbreak to other App Stores. Cydia, Rock, ICY, etc. I have and it SUX! My Jb phone crashes the mobile springboard multiple times everyday to better prove Apple’s point.

    • Oh, re “complex apps;” no thank-you. Those are over in the Android area. The whole point of the iPhone OS seems to let those who loath CE complexity enjoy their day without wondering which setting is hidden under what submenu of which utility app.

    • (Replying to both comments)

      As you yourself point out, circumventing Apple’s sandboxing of applications is not a valid solution to the problem. I’m not sure why you are offering it as a solution, only to then point out that it doesn’t work properly. Somewhat unrelated to the discussion, I’m also unclear on why you chose to jailbreak your iPhone and install buggy applications on it when this clearly doesn’t work properly for you. Having another app store such as Cydia usually doesn’t force you to install poorly written applications.

      As for the complex applications, obviously you would not be forced to use them if you didn’t want to (although given what you have said about the Cydia store, I’m wondering whether there is some peculiar force of nature that makes it impossible for you not to install something if it is available to you).

      You seem to imply that having complex applications would somehow decrease the quality of the available applications, but a quick trip to the App Store should prove that the quality is already horrible. At the same time, it is perfectly possible to have complex applications with good user interfaces. There is simply no reason to believe that having more complex applications would further decrease the quality of the apps in the App Store; in fact, I can’t think of anything anyone could do to further decrease the quality of the apps in the App Store, short of intentionally letting malware into the store.

  19. The whole article is BS, but two points stood out for me:

    1. Computer is not an “institution”
    2. When I buy hardware, I insist that I have at least rudimentary control of said hardware as manifested in installing whatever software on it I want, without anyone telling me if I can or can not do so.

    • So, you “insist” on having a control to install whatever you want? Do you feel you are entitled to it? What gave you that sense of entitlement?

      Here’s an idea: buy something else. You are not entitled to iPhone, or iPad. Buy Them if you think they fit your needs. If they don’t, buy something else.

      Or, of you are feeling adventurous: jailbreak them.

      Point is, you have options. What you do NOT have is entitlement to have whatever you want, however you want it, where-ever you want it. Or are those other devoces and options too crappy for you?

    • “The whole article is BS”

      Thank you.

      “When I buy hardware, I insist that I have at least rudimentary control…”

      Do you routinely install “whatever software on it I want, without anyone telling me if I can or can not do so” on your, say, refrigerator, car, microwave, game console, remote control, cable set-top box, TV, DVD player and so on?

    • You can do whatever you want with your hardware. Jailbreak it, unlock it, blend it, etc. Likewise, every choice, whether it’s to jailbreak or not, has a consequence.
      For example, I can install Linux and remove OS Xon my MacBook right now. Since I won’t be able to use iPhoto, should the Linux community or Apple be obligated to satisfy my need and port it FLAWLESSLY to Linux, or should I live with the consequences that come with my choices?

  20. Come on, Google is completely open. Unless you want to find out what data they’ve collected about you. Or how long they keep it. Or how they use it. Yes, like situational ethics, Google is situationally “open”.

  21. “Apple is roaming in a free, super competetive smartphone market.”

    See, this is the piece of the puzzle that everyone glosses over.

    Everyone who says “Apple should play fairer” are (perhaps unconsciously) admitting that they believe the market has already decided, that there is no-one other than Apple worth buying.

    When your detractors are implicitly endorsing your product by their very outrage, you’ve won.

    The only way to defeat Apple in this space is to play up the successes of their competitors. If and when they actually have any.

  22. Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt
    said yesterday in Reuters interview that Apple was
    being discriminatory for Changing rules for sharing
    private user info with third party.

    Here is the real difference between Apple and Google.
    Apple’s customers are its users where as Google’s
    customers are corporations who place ads with Google.

    Apple should really drive this point to make differentiation
    with Android phones.

    If AdMob deal is not blocked then any talk of Apple
    having monopoly power is just a joke. especially when
    iAd is only for the iphone platform unlike AdMob.

  23. Comparing Google’s search engine algorithm with Apple’s controlled app store is ludicrous. A better comparison would be between Google’s search engine algorithm and the code behind OS X and iPhone OS. This whole article is bunk.

    Plus, if Apple really wanted to protect us from “complexity,” then why not add a little option (much like Android does…) hidden deep down in an obscure settings menu to allow 3rd party apps that have not been approved by the Apple app store gods? No ordinary user that does not like “complexity” would ever find the option.

    • Daniel, you do have an option — use a different phone. I don’t see why this concept is either so hard to understand or so unacceptable to Apple’s critics. The smartphone market is highly diverse and highly competitive, and Apple is merely one of many players. If you don’t like their approach, don’t buy their products. It’s really quite simple. Apple doesn’t owe you particular features — Apple doesn’t owe you anything.

    • You’re right, and I exercised that option. I own a Google Nexus One. But that does not change the fact that I would like to be able to use an iPhone with Google Voice, but am unable to because Apple has a closed app store.

      This is like the argument that Facebook makes about privacy, essentially that “we don’t force you to sign up with us; therefore, EVERYTHING you share is by choice.” Well of course it is by choice that we sign up for Facebook, but why can’t we have the choice to share only SOME items that WE CHOOSE?

      Apple does not owe me anything, no, you are right. But that is not exactly a counter-argument to my opinion, you’re just running away from the heart of the issue; namely, that Apple owns the app store and therefore does WHATEVER THE FUCK it wants to with it. What if countries operated like that?

    • Daniel – I couldn’t find the comparison you mention. But if there were, what would it mean? And why would osx be a better comparison?

    • Really? Haha, the whole article is about how someone called the iPad a “curated computing” experience. And then proceeds to show that Google’s search engine algorithm is proprietary and therefore Google has a “curated search engine.”

      Comparing OS X and iPhone OS to Google’s search engine algorithm would be a better comparison because both are the key to each company’s success. Apple sells computers and iPhones because their software is excellent; Google is able to get lots of advertising revenue because their search engine algorithm is excellent.

      The app store barely makes Apple any money, and the contents of the app store (all of the apps) are NOT (except for iWork and a few other apps) created by Apple. They could keep the app store and allow 3rd party apps on the iPhone without losing money (or they could just open up the app store completely without losing money).

    • > A better comparison would be between Google’s search engine algorithm and the code behind OS X and iPhone OS.

      Okay, if you insist on that comparison…

      http://www.opensource.apple.com/

      You can download the source for the kernel, the source of the build tools, and the source of webkit.

      So, um, which parts of google’s search or advertising can we download?

    • Remind me how I can use OS X or the iPhone OS on non-Apple branded computers / phones? I believe that goes against the EULA for both OS X and iPhone OS, no?

      Plus, we both know Google supports far more open-source projects than Apple does. A great example is Webkit, like you mention! Since the introduction of Chrome, Google has made far more commits to Webkit (via their Chromium open-source browser) than Apple has made (via Safari).

      Obviously both Apple and Google have proprietary things, but Apple is FAR more controlling than Google is.

      http://code.google.com/
      http://code.google.com/opensource/

  24. Seriously, I admire the vigor of your language, and you’re entirely within your rights to choose the convenience and hygiene typical of a curated landscape.

    The only thing irritating is the backwardness of the inference here. I went to work for Google partly because I find Apple’s app-store policies intolerable; not the other way around.

    • “I went to work for Google partly because I find Apple’s app-store policies intolerable…”

      What’s incomprehensible to me then is the notion of finding Apple’s app store policies intolerable but going to work for Google whose cashcows are closed, proprietary, controlled and opaque. That is an untenable level of hypocrisy, which as the title says, is the subject of the post above.

      I hope it was clear this isn’t about you per se. It’s about Google and its abuse of the concept of “open” for its own commercial purposes.

    • “entirely within your rights to choose the convenience and hygiene typical of a curated landscape.”

      That is at least a start of understanding, I think. I don’t think any of us believe that 100% (or even anything close to that) of the mobile market should be curated by Apple. However, most of us think it has a place, usually for our less tech savvy family or friends who do need that convenience and hygiene. That decision to use that platform shouldn’t be demonized by the fanatics of the other “open” platform. Ironically, it seems that the supporters of an “open” platform have no tolerance for any other platform. It is like I’m being told “I’m for multiculturalism, just not your culture.”

      The rhetoric has gotten out of hand, like comparing the Apple’s app-store to North Korea or saying you don’t want to be a slave to Steve Jobs at a Google IO session. Really? Not being able to get a particular app on a smart phone is equivalent to living in North Korea? I bet the North Koreans who are eating dirt would like to say something about that. I bet the slaves on the Middle Passage would have a total understanding of a Flash developer’s predicament with regards to the app store.

      If you are still reading, you are obviously very influential in the Android community. If you agree there can be a spectrum of platforms, then maybe just talk your fellow evangelists and movers and ask to tone down the inflammatory rhetoric.

    • Toby – There is no ‘start of understanding’ here. Saying ‘I admire the vigor of your language’ is a bit like commenting on a carpenter’s work by saying ‘I like your tools’ or ‘hey, did you get a haircut?’. A complement (if sincere) but not really very relevant and certainly not conceding anything of value. Next, he basically says ‘if that’s your choice then that’s your choice’. Yes, thanks for nothing. He doesn’t say ‘I can respect that’ or ‘I can understand that’ like I think you have assumed. Then the reference to hygiene has too many connotations and is just weird anyway. He’s being condescending, and maybe even sarcastic.
      His second point is a bit too subtle for me. I don’t get it. He didn’t leave Apple because he hates them? He didn’t join Google because they are more open? I’m not sure of the original inference. He does say that for him, Apple’s App Store policy was intolerable. But he’s a smart guy. He must know why things are the way they are. It would be nice for everyone else if Apple used their lead as slack to hang themselves. But Apple is keeping things taut, especially on the Developers who might not be helping the platform move forward. Those developers would like to run roughshod and then slipshod. That might be okay if you need to attract developers in a hurry but eventually, if there is enough money in it, things will begin to get ‘intolerable’ elsewhere as well. He knows that – just not saying it. That’s fine – look at SPJ. Flash mp3 players are junk… people don’t read anymore… There are probably more examples of misdirection coming from him – I just can’t think of any off hand right now. But let’s face it, if we were to give the nod to ‘vigor’ in this regard, Google’s got it, hands down. Tim is going to make sure of that.

  25. Apple is so far removed from acheiving monopoly (much less abusing any such fantasy) that it really only serves to distract from reality. And the reality at the time ‘hell froze over’ made it quite impossible for MS or partners to ban iTunes from PCs. Apple is in what must be a rare state for any company given (in hindsight) it’s flawless execution on products over the last decade. It’s completely befuddled the usual pundits to the point where any anti-apple sentiments they might exibit have been amplified just based on their sheer incompetence to understand the market forces that Apple lays out for them as so much childs play. The irony in this article is that Google and Apple worked together to acheive the status they are both enjoying right now. Google either grew afraid or envious of Apple and so entered into Apple’s space armed with the knowledge gained having had a seat on Apple’s board. That fear and or jealously appears to now have turned to desperatation as google does appear to be out of sync between words and action. Frankly, I don’t see how they could possibly have parters that can trust them anymore. In any case, I don’t think I could agree with Kontra more – a lot of misdirection here from a very confusing company.

  26. Edwin:

    “So if Apple attained monopoly status you would then decide that they should stop banning stuff from their platform?”

    Yes. That’s my point.

    If I banned you from my blog you would laugh and go somewhere else.

    If Apple bans Adobe from the AppStore they will make some PR fuss but then start offering their product on Android and Web OS.

    If Microsoft banned a company from Windows that company could lay down and die.

    That’s why Microsoft is not a good analogy when discussing free markets.

  27. Interesting, imagine if Microsoft had curated iTunes off of Windows. The glorious iPod would have flopped.

    Now this gets complicated but what if I really like curated stuff but I don’t necessarily want the hardware manufacturer to be my curator. Imagine if Samsung sold me a TV and said that I could only watch certain channels or dvd’s. Of course Apple says if you don’t like the curator don’t buy the hardware. Apple’s obstinate behavior is killing the golden goose… pity.

    • Either you’re being deliberately disingenuous, or you don’t actually understand what is being discussed here. Your example of Microsoft booting iTunes off Windows is not analogous to what Apple is doing.
      Your TV example is also unsuitable, since there already *are* TV curators… they’re called broadcasters, and if you don’t like what they are curating, you just turn over and deprive them of their ad revenue.

    • <> How is banning Flash and Java (and lot’s of other apps) from your platform any different than the possibility of banning iTunes? Saying it’s not analogous doesn’t make it so.

      <> Weird, my TV allows me to change broadcasters (or curators if you like) when I switch channels.

    • Interesting, imagine if Microsoft had curated iTunes off of Windows.

      Why is this so difficult, iPads/iPhones are NOT sold as general purpose computers. You may wish they were, but they are not.

      Apple is letting Flash continue on Macs (which are general purpose computers) even if they don’t like it. In fact, they just let 3rd parties access the GPU on the Mac, a boon to Flash.

      Apple’s obstinate behavior is killing the golden goose… pity.

      On planet earth, facts indicate that the only thing that’s getting killed is the profit margins of Apple’s competitors, don’t you think? Apple built its 70+% market share in digital music because, not in spite of curating iTunes/iPods. And Microsoft having realized that, unlike you, is doing precisely the same thing to its upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform: it will be a walled garden.

    • <> His royal highness himself described the iPad as the “best web way to experience the web” – that is by definition a general purpose computer.

      <> My point again was that curation can be good, it just shouldn’t be hardwired to the guy that made the device. Apple’s walled garden might keep porn out but it also keeps customers out. Apple is again taking fantastic products and relegating them to niche-hood – still a pity.

    • So, Edwin, to you, a web browser is a “general purpose computer?” Perhaps we have different definitions on what general purpose actually means.

      Perhaps it shouldn’t, but it’s a system that has worked on the gaming consoles; why aren’t the freedom fighters demanding that Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft allow anybody to publish videogames for their consoles? After all, to publish a game on those consoles, you have to actually be a company. The PS3 can also browse the web, therefore, it is a general purpose computer (according to your definition) and anybody should be able to sell anything they want for the PS3.

      If Apple is fine with the iPad being relegated to a niche, and if its users are fine with it, then who is hurt? The people who want to use iPhone but also want to be able to tinker with? Isn’t that what jailbreaking is for? Who is hurt besides people who hate Apple and are looking for another reason to despise them?

    • Angel, when I see an iPad ad it shows people doing all the same stuff they do on their computer only now they are holding it and touching it – yes Apple is selling it as a next-gen general purpose computer.

      I am have been buying and loving Apple since the Apple II. I moved a big corp. to buy thousands of Macs. I think Apple now wants to kill the web and replace it with their curated apps. Apple was a great underdog, they are selfish and irresponsible leaders.

    • Likewise, the Xbox 360, Wii, and PS3 can be defined as general purpose computers. Heck, you can even install Linux on a PS3, so where’s all the outcry that the average Joe developer can’t publish pornographic games on disc or even the PSN?

      Is Apple selfish? Yes, but please don’t tell me you actually believe any company isn’t inherently selfish; even Google does what is best for Google; the difference is that Apple doesn’t pretend to be altruistic and righteous. Is Apple irresponsible by successfully releasing a device that is designed for the untapped market that has no desire to tinker with the many intricacies of a PC and just wants a device that works? I’d say it’s irresponsible to ignore such a large percentage just to cater to a very vocal but small group of tech-savvy people who demand that every device caters to their needs and desires at the expense of everybody else’s.

      That statement about Apple wanting to kill the web is ridiculous. They are the most outspoken proponents of HTML5; even Google, who claims to support the open web and be the most open company EVER, still holds onto proprietary solutions, such as Flash.

    • Edwin,

      “Imagine if Microsoft…”

      I always find this kind of comparison problematic. Microsoft is a monopolist with 90 % market share in operating systems and office suites, so they could do whatever they want (announcing Vaporware, being years late with their operating systems) and the market couldn’t effectively punish them, as there is no viable alternative to buy.

      Just leave those Microsoft comparisons at home. They are bad, because they don’t represent how a maket economy is supposed to work.

      Apple is roaming in a free, super competetive smartphone market. They are only the number 3 player, behind RIM and Nokia. Whenever they do something bad it will come back to haunt them, as they’ll lose marketshare. However it is not up to the moralist Geeks to decide what’s good and what’s bad. It’s up to consumers.

    • So if Apple attained monopoly status you would then decide that they should stop banning stuff from their platform?

    • Unlike other respondents, I agree that Microsoft booting off iTunes from Windows would have been analogous. However, in order to do that, Microsoft would have needed a different business model, a different development model, and a different culture. I suspect that with such differences, their platform would not have achieved it’s historical pervasiveness, and as a result iTunes not being allowed would not have been a big issue (or, more likely, Microsoft would be no more and we’d all be Mac users… Or maybe OS/2 users ;-).

  28. Another funny thing about this: It’s Google’s official company line that native apps will die out and WebApps will dominate. Then why do they even bother?

    • That’s an old Jedi trick – “These aren’t the Droids we’re looking for. You can move along.” Being easily fooled saved that storm trooper’s a lot of grief, else obi-wan would have had to deal him up more directly. I’m afraid google will be looking up all of us here. They need to put each of us on the ‘was easily fooled – or needs something more “stringent” list.

  29. The number one priority of very public company is to make money – that is the number one thing all consumers need to keep remind themselves. Any talk of “Freedom” and “Openness” from any company man is a sham and really laughable. Each company ultimately wants to insert itself between you, the spending consumer, and all other companies.

    In that regard Apple’s offerings have always been the most honest and honorable – These are our commercial products and services. If you like them, pay for them. If not, you are free not to buy it. Apple does not sucker you in with *free* OS or plug-ins or online app.

    Not only are many of these anti-Apple outcries disingenuous and purposefully misdirecting from their own hidden agendas, they are often outright wrong. It takes a lot of complex engineering work to make something complex work simply and elegantly on the iPhone. THAT is the goal of engineering. People are not dumb down by using the iPad to read news, write blogs, and unleash their creativity in other ways as inspired by the new platform. People are dumb down by using Google as the one and only means to do anything and everything without even thinking.

  30. A bit off topic perhaps, but one of the most interesting and entertaining aspects of the introduction of the iPhone and the new platform over the last few years is how it has revealed how incredibly mean, selfish, and even ignorant some of the “leading lights” of the online technorati are.

    Perhaps I was just naive, but I used to follow what seemed like pearls of wisdom dripping from some of these actors fingers and now they seem just as biased, and full of as much flawed analysis, as the rest of us are.

    • Great point Gazoobee.

      Bray certainly seems to have a taste for the Google kool aid. Guess it’s not a conflict of interest though if you can frame it in suitable zeal. “Won’t someone please think about the human rights implications…”

      The tide has indeed turned since the iPhone came out. These guys are getting a sense of what it’s like to fall behind. And what better to do than whine about it on Twitter?

    • Remember, as an “evangelist” Tim Bray is getting paid by Google to do exactly what he does: agitate against his employer’s competitors without seeming to.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I have been very disappointed with the tech elite and how they cannot seem to be bake to see another point of view. I wonder why the bitterness? Anyway what Tim Bray cant seem to see, since he is so narrowly focused on the tech world is that he has made these exact same complexity tradeoffs in other aspects of his life. For example does he slaughter his own meat and decide when the correct time to bring in the crop? No, from his blog, he has left the complexity of feeding himself to the gourmet chefs at the Googleplex. Can’t he see that possibly another person might want to remove that complexity from tech just like he has in a different part of his life?

      My theory is that the people like Bray are like the monks in medieval Europe only they know how to read or have access to knowledge. Simplified tech like the iPad is like teaching the public how to read. They are concerned about losing their power over the public.

    • Agreed. For me, the example of removing complexity in non-tech areas demonstrates the absurdity of their grandstanding better than any other analogy I’ve seen. Nice one!

  31. Google is born with a silver spoon in its mouth. As with all pampered adolescents, Google is spoilt. It does not treasured things with great pride because anything it wants can be bought with money without any effort. If it wants anything it will just seize it for free first without asking. Look at its trouble with its street-view project in Europe, especially the Germans; its attempt at unauthorized scanning and copying of books and privacy issues.

    Google is in a hurry. It is trying to run first without learning how to walk properly. It is rash and impatient and wants to acquire everything fast without considering the consequences of its actions. It has not seen more moons and stars like what Microsoft or Apple have seen, and it does not have the experience of avoiding the pitfalls of life. It is arrogant and swaggering and tends to step on many powerful toes all at once. This is the Greek tragedy of Google.

  32. Most everyone know why they want to be in Apple’s walled garden. They are there by choice because they want a great user experience. They want their gadgets and softwares to just work and do not bother about the geeky stuff. They are willing to pay for the products they buy because they know that developers also need to live. They want to have the freedom to avoid from being attacked by malicious viruses, malwares and trojan horses. And definitely they don’t want junks and craps running on their machines. Most important of all they know they are not being held at gunpoint by Steve Jobs and they can leave if they wanted to.

    But not everybody know why they are in Google’s gulag. They do not consciously exercise their judgement, but just follow the freeloader’s route of having free, good-enough softwares. Usually they think that developers are not entitled to the fruits of their labour. They are not bothered to be responsible for the housekeeping of their backups and expect sugardaddy Google to take care of the hassle. They thought they are free from autocracy but they do not have the power to prevent a constant diet of Google’s kool-aids and ads. Most of them also are not aware that their privacy are being breached and their activities being spied upon. They do not know that Google peddles information about them to the highest bidders. They can opt-out from using Google’s goodies, but their identities and souls are forever trapped inside Google’s gulag computers. Google knows every thoughts, every activities, every peccadillos and every secrets about you. You need not have to fill in a form to reveal your true identity. Google’s knows everything! whether you are a Jew, a Gypsy, a homosexual, a substance abuser or a child molester. Google aspires, and actively seeks, to be the purveyor of all the world’s information. Imagine, and how scary it would be, if Hitler were to teleport himself to this present age. There would be no foxholes to hide. This is the reality of Google’s opaque, seamless method of control.

    • With your allusions to Hitler, the Sun and the Moon, and Greek tragedies, you’re probably an idiot anyway. But your analysis of how users are “tricked” and “trapped” into Google is total bullshit. Your description of Google as a Gulag, as opposed to Apple’s walled garden, is just mindless rhetoric because you have no argument.

      People choose Apple products because of great design and great UI. They’re simple products that work. You are right that most people don’t care about the geeky stuff, and yet you believe that they give a shit about developers getting paid? Consumers of the iPod, a business built around the mostly illegally downloaded mp3s, give a shit that creators are paid? What a joke.

      People do know why they use Google. They use Google because it is the best. Do you remember search? Do you really? Do you remember Altavista and Lycos? I use Gmail, as do the other millions out there who use Gmail, because it’s the best. Gmail came late to the game, there were already established webmail services out there, I used to be on Hotmail, yet made that switch. Because the storage was better, the interface was better, and I prefer having text ads next to my email, then text ads embedded within them.

      “Imagine, and how scary it would be, if Hitler were to teleport himself to this present age.”
      Imagine how stupid an argument has to be, for someone to resort to a teleporting Hitler anecdote.

    • Hitler wouldn’t have to teleport himself to the present age. We have clones of him roaming about and they’re not in Cupertino.

      Sure Google gives away free enticing stuff. How else can they set you up for milking?

      The Germans know a Hitler Clone when they see one; they just caught one on a ‘street view’ fishing expedition.

      ‘Street View’ is great and free. So is your Privacy. Let them handle it. They know money doesn’t grow on trees and People’s lives are so much better managed by thee.

    • Please stop with the teleporting Hitler.

      It’d be useful if you’d actually set out an alternative. Don’t pretend that other companies treat your data with as little/as much respect as Google.

      They’re all the same, only Google has the better product. Have you seen iAds? Or does Apple get away with it, because they’re in Cupertino?

    • I guess the difference is that I’ve grown to trust Apple over the years. And trust is everything in business or otherwise.

      Mistrust would be the right word to characterize ”do no Evil”, ”People should have nothing to hide”, ‘a mole on the Board’, ‘we picked up your personal data for years by accident’ Google.

  33. Let’s face the fact: whether we like it or not, we are all in one form of walled garden or another from the time we were born until the time when we kicked the bucket. Control is the universal law of nature. Control has a duality: it is good when it is used wisely, but becomes bad when it skirts on the boundary of abuse. So is freedom. Freedom is good when it can be controlled; it becomes bad when it is abused. Think of the case of substance abuses such as narcotic, alcoholic intemperance and sexual incontinence. A drug addict, a sexual miscreant or an alcoholic have no capacity to control their behavior and choose to have the freedom to abuse themselves and thus self-destruct. These are all freedoms that have gone haywire and have turned into bondage instead.

    Remember when you were a baby? Your parents surrounded you with a walled garden; you were protected, loved, taught and disciplined. Do your parents abandoned you to the freedom of the street urchins? When you attended school, worked for an organization or you run your own business, aren’t wall gardens being erected so that it is protected and safe? Do Google or Microsoft allow any Dick, Jane or Harry to wander into their premises without having to check themselves at the guardhouse? Going further, when you walk out of your house, workplace or a shop into the street, aren’t you in the walled garden of a civilised country where there are laws and regulations to protect you from being knocked down by an errant motorist, being robbed or being raped? This is the freedom enjoyed for being in a wall garden environment. Or do you prefer the freedom of the jungle found on the streets of Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia where the notion of the walled garden is absent?

    It is very sad to see that many American firms has fallen for rhetoric of “freedom” as expounded by Wall Street. Qualities that have made America great were slowly been adulterated. The recent economic meltdown caused by the greed of Wall Street was the result of regulators removing the wall-garden of prudence, control and responsibility. Banks were given the freedom to self-regulate themselves and to sell toxic products to the American public without any control from the regulators. This freedom leads to self-destruction of the financial fabric of the nation.

    Many companies were led astray by Wall Street into short-termism where mediocrity is celebrated. Apple, to its credit, has not succumbed to Wall Street’s wisdom and seduction and has thus escaped from the mediocrities of the PC commodity producers. Apple has followed the traditional control of thrift, innovation and long-termism and thus enjoyed the freedom from indebtedness, lack of focus and mediocrity of the PC world. The PC world are saddled with the freedom of being lackluster, me-too imitators, dog-eat-dog behavior and are overwhelmed by the resourcefulness of Asian competitors.

    I prefer the certainty and freedom of a walled garden than to the freedom of the jungle.

  34. it is after all only “curated” for the native apps. On the web with an “iDevice” there are no limits except the lack of all plugins (not just flash, but silverlite , etc…).

    • Edwin that example doesn’t even make sense.

      Windows is an open platform. iPhone is not (Android is also a controlled platform if you didn’t realize).

      If Microsoft started Windows as a closed platform, they can do whatever they want with it.

    • Quite so. That garden wall has a bloody big gate in it with a sign above it saying “Open Web Standards”. It’s up to the user if they want to step through it or not, but meanwhile while you’re inside the garden you’re well looked after

  35. Another great article, thanks. The hypocrisy of Google is mind boggling, they are proprietary and closed in everything that makes them money. Their ban on cougars is gate keeping at its best and very hypocritical at that. I am getting sick of their duplicity and lying.

  36. Didn’t Google just take freedom away from
    the users when it stopped selling
    Nexus One on its website.
    Who is going to rescue us
    from the hegemony that is
    cellphone carriers.

  37. Excellent article. Their ban on cougar sites shocks me; I thought Google was about “freedom!” But what I’m learning is that the same people who decry freedom and choice actually only mean they want companies to cater to their needs and whims, to heck with the average person who doesn’t have the desire to deal with the drama of a typical computer. Meanwhile, Apple says: “If you don’t like it, there’s plenty of other options out there.” So, who really is about choice and who just wants to enforce their will upon everybody else?

    • Exactly. It’s ironic that the open and free zealots are often the same people who (supposedly) champion the free market. They are all about choice and freedom… that is until others want to choose something they dont agree. The free market is great until it tries to serve the ideologically impure.

      I get the feeling that many of the open and free true belivers are simply bitter that large numbers of consumers don’t share their values. Apple’s continues success is a slap in the face to their long held belief that closed systems can never win in the end. So they lash out.

  38. We need more exposing like this. The “open for open’s sake”, “freedom for freedom’s sake” mantra of so many in the geek community is frightening; thank God, there is the rest of the world.

  39. Google pretends that this is about intellectual property or something even more “important”. It is about business – and Google does not really finish many of their applications. If they do so, the game may change.

    Same thing at Adobe and Flash.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s