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Is the iPhone evil?

Rory Cellan-Jones | 11:30 UK time, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

They are two companies which appear to have a lot in common. Both see themselves as having a mission beyond the purely commercial, both have won the loyalty of armies of users who see themselves as fans rather than customers. Apple and Google used to be bosom buddies - but suddenly they're feuding like cats in a sack.

Hand holding iPhoneIt's not surprising that two companies which have moved onto each other's territory are at odds. What's interesting is that the argument is about the very nature of technology and how we use it. And the focus of the battle is Apple's iPhone - is it the perfect technology tool liberating the masses to roam free across the internet, or a symbol of an increasingly closed web, controlled by powerful corporations which want to restrict our web freedom?

Now a technology veteran who has just joined Google has weighed in with a strong attack on Apple and what he sees as the dangerous philosophy of the iPhone.

Tim Bray, who in the 1990s was involved in developing web technologies and then spent years with Sun Microsystems, will now be helping to develop Google's Android platform. Here's what he said on his blog about Apple's rival vision of the mobile web:

"The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet's future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It's a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord's pleasure and fear his anger.
 
I hate it.
 
I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom's not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient."

And Mr Bray is not alone. Jonathan Zittrain, the Harvard law professor and electronic freedom campaigner believes Apple has betrayed its early mission. He contrasts what he calls the "generative" technology of early Apple computers which allowed anyone to to play around with their innards, with the closed nature of the iPhone where Apple is the gatekeeper.

Others feel that the likes of Zittrain and Bray are becoming just a little hysterical in their warning about the iPhone's threat to our cherished freedoms. After all, they argue, most people just want a device that does fun things and works, rather than being desperate to hack it, unlock it, or use it as a tool to combat global oppression.

Here's Adam Thierer, from a technology think tank, arguing that claims that Apple's app store is part of some Orwellian nightmare are ridiculous:

"These things are neither good nor evil; they are just choices. They represent different ways of promoting innovation."
And there are now plenty of choices for people looking to buy an innovative smartphone - for every "closed" iPhone, there are dozens of "open" Android mobile devices. So we'll soon find out just how interested consumers are in the ideological merits of their mobiles.


Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    If there was ever a blog title to get the fanboys tails up that is it.

    I like the Disney-fied way of life. No viruses, no spam - Tech that works! - That's what people want.

    For a while now the team at iTunes have become the most powerful media gatekeepers in the world - free record of the week anyone? But so what? If I don't like it I don't spend.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's misleading to portray this as a distinction between "pragmatic" Apple and its "ideological" opponents. "They are just choices" is as ideologically-loaded a statement as you can make.

    "We'll soon find out just how interested consumers are in the ideological merits of their mobiles"? We already know: they're not. Most people aren't in the least bit interested in the ideologies determining their technology choices: that's one reason why Windows is still the market leader.

    That doesn't mean people aren't adversely /affected/ by those ideologies. Sometimes they may realise how they are (e.g. when a cherished app is no longer available to them), sometimes they won't.

    If Apple's model prevails and a "walled garden" approach to mobile technology becomes the norm, most of the damage will be of things we never know about: the innovations that don't happen, the choices that are never made available. Perhaps we'll become vaguely aware over time that the internet seems less exciting than it used to be, less innovative, no longer a driver for freedom and personal empowerment, but we'll put that down to it "maturing".

  • Comment number 3.

    Apple is the most closed technology and that extends past the iphone. Why Microsoft has been forced to open up the browser market (it never stopped people installing other browsers) when apple can force us all to use itunes if we by an ipod is beyond me!

  • Comment number 4.

    'The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet's future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what’

    Last time I checked the App Store and the Internet were two very different things.

    Oh and what about the Apple funded, open source, WebKit browser engine that all major mobile phone makers (RIM, Google, Series 60) bar MS are using? Being the biggest backer of the open HTML5 protocol doesn’t really fit in with the iPhone is evil, and let’s have a go at Apple view, so let’s just not mention it?

    Nice work Rory

  • Comment number 5.

    How is it legal for Apple to control application accessibility, subject to their whim? Isn't that anti-competative (ie the way they block apps than 'cause confusion' with their own).
    Apple should either: a) allow other app stores, so we can choose; or b) treat their app store as a public utility (to protect us from viruses etc) but NOT impose any moralistic or commercial censorship.
    If Microsoft acted this way there would be riots!

  • Comment number 6.

    I find it slightly amusing that in an article reporting possible restrictions on what we can and can't see online using the iPhone, that so many comments are censored by the bbc/blog moderators. Let us see it, warts and all.

    "The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet's future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It's a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord's pleasure and fear his anger."

  • Comment number 7.

    Don't forget to mention Maemo/MeeGo too as an open operating system for mobile devices.

    Devices running Android and the N900 (only Maemo device at present) seem to have far superior hardware to the iPhone, too.

    Once again, it's all down to the marketing which in the case of the iPhone seems to be the key to its success.

    The one thing I will say is good with Apple's business model is that they do seem to focus very well on a good, working customer experience. Stuff seems just to work most of the time, and they wouldn't release a new iPhone that doesn't yet work with the currently available version of iTunes, which is what Nokia have effectively done with the Ovi Suite.

    And Nokia need to stop overlooking the UK when they release firmware updates for their devices. RipOff Britain is getting tiresome now - we pay the same (if not more?) than other countries yet get treated like we don't matter.

    Take a look at these threads for an example of what I mean:

    http://discussions.nokia.co.uk/t5/Maemo-Devices/No-UK-Fw-Update/td-p/633617/highlight/false

    - and -

    http://discussions.nokia.co.uk/t5/Software-Updates/Firmware-Updates-in-the-UK-Campaign-for-Equality/m-p/530013

    If we had Nokia's hardware with the Apple-esque user experience, there would be many happy campers.

    As for the Disney/reality debate - I'm not sure which is "best" for everyone, in fact I don't think there is a "best". Some prefer one, others another, so companies need to let people choose.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    The big question is why did Apple do this? I have my suspicions.

    In Europe, we have a rights-led approach to freedom of speech. In the US, they have their constitution, but on top of this is a market-led approach. It only needs a couple of thousand people from the US's highly organised and active christian right to write to a company and threaten to have all churches boycott their products unless all non-family-friendly content is removed.

  • Comment number 10.

    "The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet's future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what".

    Even I as a non-Apple fanboy can see this is a ludicrous statement. Apple is just being sensible in protecting its image by not letting rogue and badly coded apps proliferate. This is not the same as sanitizing the web experience - if you want tha you still use Safari (other browers are available)

  • Comment number 11.

    I believe the restrictions are about end-to-end platform control, and profit (not sensitivity to pressure groups). On the iPhone this aggresive policy is worrying but not the end of the world. However with the iPad and the talk of future general purpose OS's being more like that device than classic Windows OS X, we should all be very VERY concerned!

  • Comment number 12.

    The right to freedom is not about fighting oppression, it is simply the basic right that if I purchase a product then I own it and I am free to do with it whatever I wish. The idea that a third party can control what software can run on my device and limits what that software can do, is simply unacceptable to me. However this isn't some kind of state mandated censorship, it is simply one company's business model and ethos. That is fine, I simply will not buy an iPhone/iPad.

  • Comment number 13.

    Most people don't value their freedom while it remains an abstract concept, and when they actually encounter a restriction that actually affects them it's too late.

    In the non tech world, most people don't object to arbitrary police stop and search, until it happens to them. Most people don't object to overbearing anti-terror powers, until they're used on them. Most people don't object to restrictions on free speech, until they try to say something they can't.

    The only thing that sets the iPhone apart is that so many of its users don't realise what they're missing; they simply think that some things are impossible, rather than understanding that Apple are deliberately blocking them.

  • Comment number 14.

    Oh, and the short answer is, yes, it is.

  • Comment number 15.

    Somebody should make a better phone then. Nexus One looks like a real contender but it doesn't even support multi-touch (yet). The Apple touch technology is too good to fault.

  • Comment number 16.

    I can see both sides of the argument. Most people do just want a 'vertically integrated' device. That is the way of Steve Jobs, love it or hate it.

    On the other hand, I think Zittrain and Bray hit the nail on the head. It's the solitary reason why I refuse to buy an Apple product - though no doubt some Apple fanboy will happen along and claim I can't afford it.

    As for which approach will win the most consumers. The answer is quite simple. Of the two, the Android approach will win. Is the iPhone going to die because of it? No, because the iPhone will remain very profitable for Apple. But the Android approach of swamping the market with many types and brands of phone at many price points (cheap and expensive) will win just like PCs continue to dominate the PC (personal computer) market for the same reasons. It's the economy, stupid. But, bearing in mind that it's the financials which ultimately matter, both my lose out to the likes of Symbian or Maemo, or something else entirely; proprietary or not.

  • Comment number 17.

    We need to dispel a few myths :-

    1. Apple don't force anyone to buy an iPhone as far as I am aware. So there is plenty of choice out there for people who don't like the Apple model.

    2. Apple don't force you to buy an iPod or force you to use iTunes with it. There is other software available that will allow you use your iPod. But if you don't want iTunes why buy an iPod?

    3. You can do what ever you like with your iPhone, if you chose to Apple won't stop you. What they are entitled to do is decide just what they sell in their store, just as every other store operator does. Can you see someone trying to force Apple to sell Porn DVD titles in its stores - NO, so why should they sell it through their App Store?

    4. Apple are not being Anti-Competitive, there are plenty of other phones and Apps Stores out there if you want to use them. You make the choice.

  • Comment number 18.

    I just have one question for Apple. When I buy an IPod touch, why should I not be allowed to just start it up and run it? Why do I have to synch it with ITunes to begin with. I dont want music on my phone right now. I just want to download some app. Y Y Y.

    Actually I have one more question. Why dont you allow me to delete some song from my IPod touch. Why do I have to go through ITunes.
    And why cant I create a new playlist on the IPod.

    I give up. I've got Nokia N900. Look it up guys. Its amazing.

  • Comment number 19.

    Like many commentators, Rory, you are confusing a resticted *app store* with a restricted *web*.

    In fact, Apple have demonstrated their support for a free mobile web more than any other company. The iPhone has the fullest implementation of HTML5 and the most forward-looking support of unrestricted web apps of any phone available. The only thing they 'restrict' is Flash - a proprietary technology, that they are pushing to replace with open standards.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's not really a question of "evil", but "natural selection" when applied to technology (with reference to Moore's law).

    The iPhone is sterile and won't be part of future generations of technology, as it will wither and die. The best you can hope to be is an interesting footnote.

  • Comment number 21.

    WhtStrn

    Whilst you're singing Apple's praises with regards to WebKit, the other companies you just named are now involved in its development too. Also, let's not forget it's a KHTML fork and let's not be so naive as to assume it's open source because Apple WANT it to be. It's open source because it HAS to be.

    Again, Apple supporting HTML5 has nothing to do with altruism. Steve just doesn't like Flash.

  • Comment number 22.

    Given that Apple is now suing (or least threatening to sue) google about phones I guess this article needs to be update to ask are Apple trying to limit the smartphone market to apple only products?

    I have a simple philosophy. I refuse to buy anything that includes DRM. Its not that I share music or video but simply that when I buy something I want the right to watch it/listen to it/read it as I choose, where I choose and when I choose. Generally Apple are pretty good about this

  • Comment number 23.

    Another good example of how a company that has not even payed its dues (from apple to kodak in this case) can walk the planet doing as it feels, while other like Microsoft are fined left right and centre for unfair advantages even though they at least pay their patent rights and try to do what the consumers want.
    I Agree that apple have the most blunt and forcfull apporoach and this is what stopped me from buying an iphone in the first place, i do not like apples attitude one bit .. they sure people all the time but yet 5 years after kodak file for their patent rights to be held up by the courts and still no success, someone in amercian goverment/law that has shares invested maybe??

  • Comment number 24.

    Talk about missing the point!
    Iphone is not the best phone in the world on several points, but it is the market leader in a created market.
    No wonder other manufactures are after a piece of the action, and using spin along with smoke and mirrors to say that their product is better in this way and that way.
    If you had said 10 years ago that a phone could do all this and would I like shares in the company then most people would have laughed (funnily enough the dotcom thing was around 10 years ago and most of those shares are worth less than the paper they are written on).

    The iphone (Apple) could do this or that to enhance its products but does it need to? When an object has so much devotion for it, why should they? And complaints about this or that should really be placed into context, mainly THEY are making money, why not me?

  • Comment number 25.

    The underlying assumption of many of these comments is that there is choice and I disagree. When someone makes a package as good as iPhone / iTunes then there will be a choice, sadly I've been looking for such a beast for months and can't find one. And I've tried the N900 and read up on Nexus, anyone who thinks Nokia's offering is up there is deluded.

    RIM / Google & HTC / Nokia etc need to pull up their socks before this will get interesting.

  • Comment number 26.

    This also assumes that iPhone owners are either unwilling to or incapable of jailbreaking them. Almost everyone I know who has an iPhone has now jailbroken it and has never looked back. They tell me that a jailbroken phone is "the way the iPhone should have been". Seems to me that's the best of both worlds.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ian P wrote "You can do what ever you like with your iPhone, if you chose to Apple won't stop you". That is factually incorrect, in Apple's opinion jailbreaking your iPhone (the only option to use applications not supplied via Apple-control means) is unlawful, and a breach of copyright. Google it.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi

    Whilst I do agree with a lot of the sentiment here I must say, for a blogger for the BBC you do tend to get an awful lot of factual stuff incorrect.

    A closed "web" and close "app" store are two different things.

    Also the other week you referred to the iPad as a "giant iphone" It's not a giant iPhone it's more like a giant "iPod touch"

    Silly stuff I know, but it's enough to make me sign up and complain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Whilst I don't object to Apple running their own app store, I do disagree with the fact that you can't install apps from other stores without voiding the warranty by jail breaking the iPhone. People should be made more aware of the alternatives to the iPhone, and see the potential for an open market for apps and software. You would complain if you couldn't install a particular programme on your computer because Microsoft didn't like it or didn't sell it through their own closed store, so why is it acceptable to do so for a phone? In many ways we have taken a step backwards, as it used to be possible to buy games for phones from any source, as long as they were compatible.

    In fact, I can see a day when it becomes possible to buy a phone and its operating system separately. Although that won't happen with the iPhone.

    As soon as HTC/Nokia etc release a phone that is considerably better than the iPhone (the Hero is almost there) there will be the beginnings of a movement across as everyone sees the joys of genuine choice.

  • Comment number 30.

    No, the iPhone isn't being evil but Apple are doing some silly things. The iPhone is a great piece of kit but competition will give the consumer what they want. As others have said, I've got a Nokia N900 which is really quite insanely good and allows you to do many things Appple restrict.

  • Comment number 31.

    Just to add. The big test to apple is going to come around this autumn / winter when the windows 7 mobile platform get launched. If MS Nail this, and it's looking very much like they might if early reports are anything to go by. Then we will finally have a genuine contender to apple's crown. Not only that MS are insistant on hardware specs, which means that we'll get good hardware to go with good software. Even if it isn't as good as the iphone if it forces the iphone to raise their game a bit more, well, that can only be beneficial to us.

  • Comment number 32.

    I don't get it - You are 'free' to use the internet on the iPhone right? There's a fair bit of sex and controversy there?

  • Comment number 33.

    The only potentially evil thing about Apple's iphone is the excessive price differential charged to UK customers versus those in the US, with the top model priced at $299 in America and $823 (£549) in the UK.
    Laughably, their customer service people tried to tell me the near-tripling of the price was due to different levels of VAT between the two countries.

  • Comment number 34.

    "And I've tried the N900 and read up on Nexus, anyone who thinks Nokia's offering is up there is deluded"

    Interesting - I had an iPhone for the last 18 months, when my contract was up I tried the Nokia n900 and was totally blown away by how good it was, and how many superior features it had to the iPhone. Goodness me, I was so deluded that I sold the iPhone and bought the Nokia, and after a month I don't miss the overpriced, overhyped Apple one bit.

    I don't think Nokia's offering is up there - I KNOW it is up there ;)

  • Comment number 35.

    I dont know what iPhone Bray has been using but mine lets me do what i want on the internet. I can go onto any porn sites, i can be all 'controversial' on any site i choose. Thats all through Safari.

    The app store, however, is also exactly how i want it, free of viruses and badly made programs that crash my phone.

    What people have to remember also is that if Apple let all control go, then they'll be getting sued left right and center for providing a platform for the things that affect other services.

    For example how do you think O2 would feel about Apple letting a fully functioning tethering app or MyWi to hog their bandwidth?

  • Comment number 36.

    Such silly arguments were made about the increasing use of technology such as electronic diagnostics in cars, yet I still see there are plenty of independent garages still around.

    You have a choice, if you don't like it then buy something else. If you like to tinker with things then you wouldn't buy a car where the bonnet was welded shut. So why buy a phone that is locked down?

    What do the XBox 360, Wii and PS3 all have in common? you can't tinker with those, they're locked down with DRM and other controls. Why don't people whine about those?

  • Comment number 37.

    I think the answer to this question is quite simple to determine.

    Tim Bray says, correctly, that the Android phones have hardware and software that exposes the underlying capabilities in the phone to application developers in a complete and non-discriminatory fashion. If the phone can do it, you can write code that uses those functions and if you are clever produce a superior application.

    Now look at the iPhone. The hardware is not fully accessible to developers (although it is to Apple) and applications may not make full use of the functions (unless it is Apple code doing it) and only Apple's own applications are allowed to run in the background and hence be multi-tasked.

    All this is because Apple want to keep control over their customers. The price you pay is the restriction in what you can do, and the likelihood that something you have now will be taken away from you in the future. The benefit that you get is that the overall user experience is stable and well polished.

    When Android 2.1 and later phones become the norm, then it will be interesting to see if people vote with their feet once they realise what the differences are in the application model.

    As to the evil question, well, no the iPhone itself is not evil, but the company behind it is certainly the most evil of the contenders if only because it has considerable engineering and marketing competence and hence it is in a better position to push its demands into the marketplace. That's why Apple makes big profits and satisfies its institutional shareholders, but of course doing so is not in the interests of the people buying its products because they are funding this profit pool.

  • Comment number 38.

    Whilst I don't object to Apple running their own app store, I do disagree with the fact that you can't install apps from other stores without voiding the warranty by jail breaking the iPhone.

    That really is the crux of the matter. Providing a safe, controlled, malware free central source of applications is a good thing, and anyone coming from a Linux desktop background will be thoroughly familiar with that approach, we just call them 'repositories' instead of 'stores'.

    The line is crossed not by providing the service, but by trying to forcible prevent people doing anything outside the vendor's control. It's evil when Apple do it, but it's just as bad from anyone else.

  • Comment number 39.

    Are people becoming intoxicated with 'freedom'? When you go to buy an iPhone, there is nowhere it says that the device can do whatever you want it to. Similarly, when you buy an XBox and try to chip it or something, MS will come down on you hard!

    I may sound like am playing devil's advocate here but, this is also my argument against the EU's harassment of Microsoft on integrating IE with their Operating System. It should be left to Microsoft and market forces to decide what they want their OS should or should not include.

    However, since Microsoft has been punished for similar sins, so should Apple.

  • Comment number 40.

    The Apps Store is a selection of applications presented by Apple. Apple want to keep a healthy image so they get rid of Apps like 'Shaken baby' for obvious reasons. They protect their customers who WANT a sanitised environment to play in. I think that average Joe knows where to find the darker side of the web if they feel that way inclined.here is nothing stopping you from googling 'Debbie does Dallas' on Safari? Why shouldn't Apple ban apps from their own store if they don't project the company image? If Microsoft were to make their OWN laptops I guess it would mean that they could restrict users to only using their browsers, operating systems and software packages? So, why don't they if they want a piece of Apple? Apple have got a guaranteed fan base no matter what they sell, regardless of what the restrictions are, so who really cares here? If you want dark web go and get dark web !

  • Comment number 41.

    I won't use an iPhone, iTunes or anything similar for just the reasons given. Apple are locking people into their technology in the same way Microsoft has done. It's already the case that you'll see an "iPhone App" for whatever function available for download - even from public bodies. Why not offer a generic phone application? iPhone is becoming synonymous with Smart Phone in the way Windows has become synonymous with PC. Far from offering choice, Apple is making sure it has a monopoly. Claiming that iTunes and iPhone apps are simply people's free choice is like claiming people buy a Windows PC through free choice. There comes a point where alternatives are not viable for most people because of the monopoly that has been built up.

  • Comment number 42.

    So you quote a very misinformed blog post.

    The iPhone is closed on one side, but as far as the World Wide Web is concerned, it it fully open. Google even proved this by writing a web app for Google Talk, specifically for iPhone users, to get round Apple's rejection of the Google Talk App in the App Store.

    The iPhone is a very strange beast. For its dedicated apps, it is indeed in a walled garden, but WebKit (on which Mobil Safari is based) is probably the most open and standards compliant browser engine in the world. As such users have the choice, the closed but dedicated apps, or a fully open web experience (with the exception of flash - which IMO is no real loss)

    @39 Apple is not being punished because Unlike MS with IE I could drag Safari to the trash right now with no ill effects to OS X. If you had done that with IE 4 + you would have major issues in Windows as IE integrated into the OS. And as other solutions exist that will allow you to sync to an iPod or iPhone without iTunes, again there is choice.

  • Comment number 43.

    What is the big fuss? You bought an iPhone and you use it you get the "apps" you are able to get whatever they may be and you download from a site owned by the same company that supplied the hardware the same one that was there before you bought it. If you don't like it don't buy it and support someone else who does have the freedom. Apple will only change if people start voting with their feet exactly the same as in reality Microsoft did albeit with an arm is a gentle, metaphorical, half nelson.

  • Comment number 44.

    If Microsoft had tried to tie up their platform in the same way Apple are doing with the iPhone then there would (rightly) be an uproar. For some reason Apple seem to be forgiven possibly because they used to be the small independent struggling against the dominant MS.
    In terms of market control, Apple is to Microsoft what Microsoft was to IBM.

  • Comment number 45.

    "Is the iPhone evil?"

    No. It's a phone.

  • Comment number 46.

    What is all the FUSS about - honestly, I'm so tired of people talking down the app store structure, I for one LOVE that the iPhone works a treat and gives me access to thousands of apps - just compare that to how many can you get on android, and even beyond that compare it to the quality and reliability of the iPhone operating system in comparison to all its competitors. I wish that Google and Microsoft fans would stop whinging and whining and try to compete on the same level as the iPhone. I've tried all three and there is only going to be one winner for the foreseable future - thank you Apple for making something that works a treat and gives me MORE CHOICE THAN I COULD ASK FOR.

  • Comment number 47.

    By Microsoft Platform which one do you mean? XBox is this not tied down? The PC is not microsoft it is just the OS of choice such choice that no one can compete hence a monopoly. iPhone is owned by Apple and so is the software. They can do what they like can't they?

  • Comment number 48.

    @Skashion - Yeah I know that in no way is Apple making Webkit better for the anyone else’s sake but their own, but I was using it as an example of how this topic is much, much more complex than Rory has laid it out.

    Highlighting a post by a Google employee about how much he doesn’t like the iPhone because it censors the web, when it clearly does not, smacks of bad journalism at best.

    Another point is people saying if MS had done this there would be out-roar. Well Windows Phone 7 only allows apps to be installed from MS’s own market place. Oh and lets not forget the last 30 years of console gaming which would only play games that the platform holder has licensed. But lets not let that get in the way of some Apple hating eh....

  • Comment number 49.

    Rory Said:
    And there are now plenty of choices for people looking to buy an innovative smartphone - for every "closed" iPhone, there are dozens of "open" Android mobile devices. So we'll soon find out just how interested consumers are in the ideological merits of their mobiles.

    My reply:
    Consumers don't care. They shouldn't need to care.
    It's OUR job as experts in the field to care - not consumers.

    Just like I don't understand nor care about a number of other specialised technologies outside my scope from nuclear reactors to rail way repairs. Because I know there are (or rather should be) specialised experts in those fields to protect us.

    Even one of your own reporters (Bill Thomson) voiced more of an expert opinion than your pacifist fence-sitting when he reported for the BBC on Apple. He closed with the following poignant sentence:
    "Just as we must work to retain our democratic forms of government in the face of adversity, so we must constantly be alert for those who would remove open systems in the name of efficiency and effectiveness."
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8493006.stm

  • Comment number 50.

    I found this the other day which I found quite interesting & it struck a chord... http://www.berkeleylug.com/?p=485

    I too would be very unlikely to buy an Apple product for much the same reasons. As far as phones go and as far as I'm concerned, my Nokia N900 is far more useful to me than an iPhone would ever be. A lot of people seem to choose the iPhone and are happy with it. That could be because they don't know what they're missing out in terms of freedom or they just don't need that freedom.

  • Comment number 51.

    Do end users care about whether their chosen smartphone is open? Probably not. What's perhaps more important in this debate is the people who are developing software for these platforms.

    If you are a software developer writing apps for the iPhone, you are entirely subject to the whims of Apple. You have to pay $99 to register, then spend however long it takes to write your program (using an obscure programming language that is not used outside of the Mac/iPhone world), then wait for a couple of weeks while Apple decides whether it's worthy (in which case they will take 30% of your revenue). If Apple decides not to let your app into the app store you have no option other than to write off weeks or months of development effort as there is no other legitimate way to get your software onto the hardware. In this way Apple retains complete control over the iPhone "experience" but the software developers are in an extremely vulnerable position. Some are seduced by tales of riches earned by iPhone app developers but surely most sensible businesses would not want to expose themselves to the risk of their efforts being rendered worthless by Apple?

    The more open Android platform is a much safer bet for a software company. We're now starting to hear stories of people actually making decent money out of it too. The iPhone is not going anywhere soon, but this is how openness will drive the uptake of Android because, now that there is evidence of Android apps being commercially viable, developers will increasingly start to favour it (particularly since apps are written in Java on any platform rather than Objective-C only on a Mac, making it more immediately accessible to most developers). Writing your apps for Android first and then porting to the iPhone later will most likely become the preferred approach.

  • Comment number 52.

    IanP wrote:
    2. Apple don't force you to buy an iPod or force you to use iTunes with it. There is other software available that will allow you use your iPod. But if you don't want iTunes why buy an iPod?

    Whilst your are not forced to buy any Apple product, you are forced to use itunes to get music on your ipod and to sync. Why do think Apple do not provide the ability to add your own storage such as mini sd cards etc. Yes other software has been available to use with your ipod, but each generation is made so it cannot any longer. The same way that Apple will not let any other hardware brand use itunes either.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'd call 10 billion app downloads pretty innovative. I'm not sure where google or this guy are coming from when the iPhone has a web browser that is capable of viewing pretty much any website.

    iPhone has change the entire philosophy and reality of mobile phones, probably more of a significant innovation than google itself. And I'm all for a system that actively screens for malicious code, even if I do think Apple could be a bit more open about its reviewing/rejection policies.

    I think we'll see the real discussion on application content when the iPad is launched and the various media groups that live off near-porn content argue that they should be allowed to stuff the app store with digital tits and ass mags.

  • Comment number 54.

    Freedom! it's f*icking phone made by a company who can do whatever it likes walled garden? don't buy it, you have that choice but it seems that many of u live in blinkered kindergarten where u scream and scream until u are sick. The guy from Sun Microsystems who can take him serious after working at Sun hardly an open source kinda company ok they did give us java, who cares.

    No one puts a gun to your head and forces you to buy Apple or Google as there are lots of other phones out there for people to use.

    As for monopoly if people actually did a little research they would see that Apple is not the leading smartphone company.

    Do i want to unlock my phone no as most of the good apps are in the app store, open up the app store so that people can load all sorts of rubbish on their phones such as viruses, yeah right. If you don't like it then don't buy it.

    as for the lanlord comment i don't hear gameloft. EA, freeverse and others complaining too much do you?

    people have too much time on their hands!!

  • Comment number 55.

    Most of the restrictions Apple has put on the apps for the iPhone and the to be iPad are sensible and parent friendly. Also, it makes sense to ensure that software is well designed and secure. You can live in a country like Liberia, where the rule of law doesn't apply, or live in a Western state where you have a measure of freedom but can't kill, steal, maim, pervert or cheat without some form of prohibition or legal comeback. The same should apply to internet products. Apple is not and never has been a purely technological company. Its skill lies in the company's ability to design technological eco-systems for providing seamless communications, music, films etc. No one else does this as well, apart from the BBC, which is equally under attack from those jealous of its success.

  • Comment number 56.

    This is so funny!! You Europeans and your right to freedom, perhaps you should take that up with your governments and stop laying the blame on big companies!!

    I don't hear you people complain about car companies, "I own the car so I have the wright to put what ever engine it I choose"! But will Ford honor the warrantee if I install a Honda engine? Arr but I own it and I should have the freedom of putting any engine in it I choose!

    Look the ultimate freedom is the freedom of choice.... If you don't like Apple then don't buy any of it's products! This is the simple answer to all of this wining and complaining! Exercise your freedom and buy something yourself instead of listing to your imaginary friend called "big business"!

  • Comment number 57.

    I don't see the iphone as evil however for myself as a user I want tech that works my way. I don't want to be controlled by apple who are frighteningly as anti competitive as Microsoft ever were. I think competition is good and I like the more open philosophy of google. An official app store is great. I even like digital locks so that you cant download and install executables without agreeing to trust the provider.

    What I dont like is that apple has complete control over your device. I think apple should be forced to open up the platform to promote healthy competition and that includes alternative app stores. Just that the owner of the phone has to agree to the digital signature of the stores in question.

  • Comment number 58.

    Sun hardly an open source kinda company ok they did give us java, who cares.

    And OpenOffice, and OpenSolaris, and lustre and btrfs and (sortof) MySQL, and the Sparc processor, and a boatload of accessibility work, and lots more besides.

    As well as having no understanding of spelling or punctuation, you also have no understanding of facts.

  • Comment number 59.

    Microsoft have spent most of the last 10+ years in court accused of anti-competative practises for giving people Internet Explorer with Windows. They never forced you to keep it, millions didn't, changing was easy but still not good enough. Fines and more fines followed until the recent change which is still being critised by some for not including enough choices and Microsoft could still end up in court about it.

    Apple on the other hand do everything in their power to force you to buy your apps from them and your songs from them (for their phones and music players), if you don't like Apples internet browser on the iphone, so crack it and get a new one you loose your warenty. Same with your iPod if you crack it so you can use normal MP3s.

    Think of the uproar if Micrsoft only let you buy software from their approved shop? Or if HMV forced you to buy songs from them once you bought an MP3 player from them? Wall's Ice Cream were sued (and they lost) for forceing people to stock their Ice creams in freezers they gave away, yet nothing happens to Apple!

    Apple is one of the most controling, domineering and anit-competative companies on the planet, yet becuase they are "hip" and "fashionable" and loved by celebraties they get away with it.

    I will never buy an Apple product as long as they behave as they do. If they get their way the will eventually be a complete monopoly in every market they compete in, and governments and people around the world blinded by their "cool" fashion accessories (gadgets are tech first, looks 2nd, Apple are all about looks) are letting it happen!

  • Comment number 60.

    Perhaps this fray between Apple and Google is just a diversion arranged by Jobs, Larry and Sergey to kill a few birds with one stone.

    What both companies need is a good competitor to push themselves against. Apple has been competing against itself for a long time and it might seem to Jobs that only Google can provide a sufficent threat size to kill any complacency amongst Apple's people.

    I also notice that this situation does not seem to directly impact either parties financially.

    Also the media is so caught up with this that all competing mobiles are not considered in the running. Headlines are all about Apple's iPhone and Google's Android. Its almost as if an effort is being made to publicly nail the coffin of the collective handphone makers who lack the software competencies of Apple and Google. Its the software foundation that is being highlighted.

    Lastly, Google takes a marketing stance of its software being completely opposite that of Apple. Open versus Closed. That does not leave much room for anyone else. It seems to me that it is as much a partnership acknowledging each other's strength/market and a strategy to lull the competition. As long as Apple and Google are seen to be cooperating everyone will gang up. Apple and Google in a war on the other hand ....

  • Comment number 61.

    Comment 33, David 38: You've got your facts wrong. You are comparing the US 24 month contract price of the iPhone with the UK price of a PAYG non contract phone (which is NOT available in the US).

    If you compare the top of the range iPhone in the UK on contract, it's available from FREE on contract going up to a maximum of £299 and UK contracts tend to offer better deals and it's available on three networks, unlike just one in the US.

    Daz

  • Comment number 62.

    I don't mind a walled garden if there are snakes outside. And there are. My experience of Windows Mobile was a negative one largely because so many badly written programs would not uninstall properly and either corrupted the registry or ended up slowing the machine down. Long live Apple's iPhone police!

  • Comment number 63.

    If I were to ask an iPhone user - Should Windows block iTunes? Of course they would say no. Why? Because it is an abuse of a market monopoly. In the same way Apple, which in some respects is the largest mobile manufacturer, and by far the largest smartphone manufacturer, is abusing its ever increasing monopoly.

    The iPhone: has no personalisation, no adobe flash, no multitasking, no removable battery, a large but useless application store, restricted developers, no bluetooth (except stereo), no cloud syncing, a poor processor, a poor display and is an ergonomic nightmare.

    Almost nobody I know has heard of Google Android, only the iPhone. It seems the only smartphone the general public knows is the iPhone. Most people have no idea there are smartphones slimmer than the iPhone, with multitasking, adobe flash, removable batteries, cloud syncing, high resolution displays, fast processors, bluetooth capabilities, open app stores and are comfortatble to hold. I strongly contest the argument that people buy the iPhone because it 'just works'. People buy it because of ignorance. The iPhone is a poor device with a possibly illegal censorship regime.

  • Comment number 64.

    Its all about choice. I can buy a symbian phone, an iphone, a windows phone, an android phone...

    Some allow customisation but threaten freezing... others restrict customisation but guarantee performance...

    Now can we all focus on something important?

  • Comment number 65.

    63 @Adlacc:

    "In the same way Apple, which in some respects is the largest mobile manufacturer, and by far the largest smartphone manufacturer, is abusing its ever increasing monopoly."

    Huh? Last I looked, Apple were THIRD in the smartphone market behind Nokia and RIM. About 1 in 7 smartphones is an iPhone, about 1 in 3 is a Nokia. Where's the monopoly?

    There are so many factual inaccuracies in this post I don't know where else to go. I don;'t have an iPhone. I may get one at some point. I may not. If I do I may jailbreak it. What I will do is get a phone that fulfils my own (somewhat geeky and technical) needs. Tim Bray's remarks are clearly just designed to be a red rag to Apple as he joins one of the companies hoping to compete. PT Barnum would have been proud...

  • Comment number 66.

    Fantastic post Rory.

    I was an iPhone 3g user who slowly became avert to Apple's app rejection process (starting with Google voice on the iPhone). Since the iPhone I have moved to android via the HTC Hero and now own a Nexus One which delivers all that I want from a smartphone and Android.

    As far as I can see, both can coexist quite comfortably and as long as consumers have the coice of Android and iPhone (not forgetting Symbian, Windows Phone Series 7, Web OS, Bada St;al) then Apple can use whatever policies they choose. There are plenty of capable rivals out there.

    Its a shame that Microsoft appear to be going the closed route with Windows Phone Series 7 but as long as Android is around, they can do what they want to!

  • Comment number 67.

    @56

    Your comment is closer to saying Apple have built the iPhone but I want to replace the processor with a Snapdragon as opposed to a slight change in software. What Apple effectively do is say, "You can have the car but if you can only drive for purposes that we want you to drive it for."

    Remember, if this was on your computer (and smart phones are getting more and more like computers) you would be outraged at the loss of control over the product that you own. Because these are new products, the control is being taken away before we even start.

  • Comment number 68.

    re CDWALL @62:

    I don't mind a walled garden if there are snakes outside.

    Well, good for you. If you know you're not capable of looking after your own computer properly, it's a good idea to contract that job out to someone else, it gives you the safety you're looking for, and that's great. But why do you want to nail the gate shut so that more adventurous souls than yourself are imprisoned with you and denied the freedom of going outside? No-one's trying to force you into the snake filled wilderness - where's the threat in other having a freedom you choose not to use?

  • Comment number 69.

    The one thing that really concerns me about dual standards is that Apple are allowed to get away with blocking Flash on their devices by simply not supporting it. If Microsoft did that, they would end up in court again. I find the fact that Apple are able to get away with it, extremely alarming.

    Oh, and before anyone assumes I'm a Microsoft fanboy, I use a MacBook Pro, a 24" iMac and I have an iPhone - I love the technology (except for the MacBook battery farce) but Apple should not be able to get away with this.

  • Comment number 70.

    It's just a phone. Something else will take its place in a while.

  • Comment number 71.

    Apple often claim to have invented, or at least to have pioneered in the mass market, drag and drop.

    So how come I can't just drag and drop, copy and delete, etc, etc, to folders on my iPhone. There should be no need to use iTunes for those who don't want it.

    MediaMonkey is a good alternative for music managment on iPhone/iPod but doesn't do videos, Apps and other files.

  • Comment number 72.

    Apple as a company is one of the biggest blocks to true product freedom that there is.

    By closing the access to ANY of the source for ANY of the products; by restricting the servicability of any of their products in such things as battery on the whyphone; by missing completely with the whatpad - and by playing the victim card worldwide.

    Apple should NOT be allowed to restrict in the manner that Microsoft have been told to open up.

    I am PROUD to say that I do not own a single Apple product, and NEVER will.

    There are better alternatives for every Apple product out there, once you get past the marketing jazz.

  • Comment number 73.

    @44.
    "If Microsoft had tried to tie up their platform in the same way Apple are doing with the iPhone then there would (rightly) be an uproar."

    I assume you've missed today's announcement that the only way to get apps on Windows Mobile 7 devices would be their own App Store implementation?

    In fact, Microsoft and Apple's mobile implementations are looking very similar. App store only apps, no background tasks outside the core OS ones, with background server based notifications supplementing instead. No expandable memory and control over the the hardware and software, and a multimedia content store with built in DRM options.

    No allowance for Flash is simply because it would compete with the App Store. I can see that becoming an anti-trust issue in the future.

    I don't think the iPhone is evil, but Apple have to be very careful about being anti-competitive. The effects Internet Explorer's tie in to Windows caused are becoming evident on the iPhone. I have no browser choice, and they won't give me one either. I can't choose any browser as a default other than Apple's. This is the real choice that should be implemented, especially with the potential power HTML5 offers us. Locking down the mobile platform for browsing will cause the same lack of innovation that IE6's dominance did. Using WebKit might give them some advantages to avoid that, but its still their choice over what to implement in their build.

    The success the iPhone has had comes from the platform control and ease of use. Microsoft can see that. WP7 is coming very close to giving the iPhone a run for its money, but the irony being that Microsoft are going towards the Apple model.

  • Comment number 74.

    @59
    "Microsoft have spent most of the last 10+ years in court accused of anti-competative practises for giving people Internet Explorer with Windows. They never forced you to keep it, millions didn't, changing was easy but still not good enough. Fines and more fines followed until the recent change which is still being critised by some for not including enough choices and Microsoft could still end up in court about it."

    That isn't entirely true. Since Windows 98SE2, and including Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows XP, and Windows Vista, Internet Explorer's rendering engine Trident was baked into the Operating System. Even disabling it and removing it via Add Remove Components would leave the engine in place. They were also involved in practices that threatened to increase prices or remove OEM licenses to manufacturers when they shipped their OS with their hardware using different defaults. They also created and shipped their own Java Machine implementation but didn't implementing the Java 1.1 standard (at the time) fully, meaning they stifled Java development as it is cross-platform.

    If I wanted to remove Safari from OS X at any point since OS X came out in 2001, I could and then choose another browser without any ill effects to the OS, this was not the case with Microsoft's implementation.

    They have every right in my mind to ship an OS, and their own implementations of open technologies like Java, but they should play by basic rules. They didn't. They are now, and that's great.

    Apple however are playing exactly the same browser game on the phone as Microsoft did with their OS, and someone is going to object sooner, rather than later.

  • Comment number 75.


    It seems to me that the ideal world is one in which we can surf a limited, sanitised internet in which we are not exposed to dangers but only see a subset of the material, but in which we can also make the choice to turn off some or all filters, effectively deciding for ourselves how much risk we want to take in exchange for a wider range of content.

    So if I want a world in which I will never see anything pornographic I can do so, but it might mean I am also shielded from some outstanding works of art; if I wish to view some adult material I may also encounter material I consider offensive. If I choose to see politically charged content I may encounter extreme viewpoints that offend me as well as things that align with my own views.

    Ultimately it's about choice, and since we all have the choice not to buy an iPhone in the first place I really don't see this as an issue. If we have the choice between a sanitised-only view of an iPhone and another device that lets us erect or dismantle barriers then we can make our own decisions at platform level even if not at application level.

  • Comment number 76.

    It's difficult to have a sincere argument about software freedom, because all to often the two parties take it to either extreme.

    Software freedom is more than "Let's see if the big bad apple does come and gobble up all our freedom." Software freedom is allowing progress and innovation to replace the garden-walled economies that have kept the people currently in power, in power.

    The Music industry is a prime example of an economy that hasn't moved with the times, and has today managed to force legislation through parliament, explicitly requesting that MPs don't debate the bill too much, whilst conceding the fact that if they didn't let the MPs debate it a little it'd get thrown out.[see link at the end of comment]

    THAT is the effect of a lack of freedom, and ironically this article has managed to avoid it. Visible evidence that a bill has been approved in the UK, NOT by the people that voted for the government, but by the corporations behind the government protecting their self-interest.

    This is what I'd hope a technology correspondent to be covering - rather than constantly bigging up the "next big thing."

    http://www.openrightsgroup.org/blog/2010/label-bosses-warn-debate-could-cost-the-disconnection

  • Comment number 77.

    #64 unwired4 "Its all about choice. I can buy a symbian phone, an iphone, a windows phone, an android phone...

    Some allow customisation but threaten freezing... others restrict customisation but guarantee performance...

    Now can we all focus on something important? "

    You forgot Open Source freedom. The N900 runs Linux, but not a private tied like one that has been removed from the Linux master repository - kernel.org: Android is not there anymore.

    My N900 is astounding incomparison to an iPhone (I must admit though the iPhone's ONLY slicker feature is capacitive vs resistive touch screen, but the N900 is very good).

    I am not an iSlave, nor am I a slave of any other vendor. I just choose the best technology for my needs. Myself being a software developer - I can do anything I wish with maemo (if I have the time and inclination). I don't have to ask for permission.

    I would hope to consider myself not biased - I work with MS and Linux Open source software development every day as a consultant. I just prefer the freedom of a true Open Source product with no walled garden, or network operator lockdowns. Some of these restrictions are insisted on by network operators.

  • Comment number 78.

  • Comment number 79.

    @Coppershark

    I never realised that the image ASpple want to portray is Playboy. They never removed that app even though it contains the scantily clad women in bikinis and lingerie that they said they were getting rid of, whilst at the same time they did remove apps that cntained o images what-so-ever but with which the user could manipulate their own images.

    Apple also never removed such wonderful apps as the one tha gave out speeches by Musillini, that was eventualy removed by it's developer as they were about to be sed for copyright breaches.

  • Comment number 80.

    Without a doubt the Iphone is evil ...
    One phone to rule them all and the in the Darkness bind them!

    Just keep your hands off mine, it's my precious, you can't have it.

  • Comment number 81.

    Some strange definitions of "freedom" being used in this debate. Apparently if one company decides it wants to release a smartphone platform that works in a particular way, and thousands of software companies want to go along with that plan, and millions of consumers decide they like the results and want to pay for it... the whole thing is evil. Because it's anti-freedom. How dare these people go about freely making these choices for themselves?! Presumably this platform should be banned, in the name of freedom. Apparently we achieve freedom by getting on our high horses about every company that gives people something they want.

    Of course the true motive behind Mr Bray's rabble-rousing invective is that he knows that his new employers would ideally like to be in Apple's position, just like they are in the search engine market. Many people have asked Google if they can opt out of having all their search queries archived for 18 months, and the answer is always: No. You can use another search engine, can't you? The irony...

    Few things are more nauseating than people using high minded political principles as a cover for their own resentment at being in second place. Oh wait, there is something more nauseating: it's companies lobbying the government to step in and create a "level playing field" (artificially cripple the company that has the most customers).

  • Comment number 82.

    It is frankly hilarious how supposed freedom 'thinkers' like this Bray character suddenly sound all righteous about Apple. Yes Apple are protecting their IP, yes Apple are building out their Ecosystem in a controlled and sensible manner to provide WHAT USERS WANT. If users did not want an iPhone that simply worked, gave them a huge choice of Apps that could just do things differently for each user, they would not buy an iPhone (or an iPod Touch for that matter). Let's see how users now react to the iPad ... I guess we will be witnessing some freedom 'thinkers' jumping off buildings at this continued success of Apple. Let's just hope that they have an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad with a parachute app!!

    As technological history shows us, if you do not put sensible controls in place, you end up with a less than useable experience, which has frustrated users & customers for decades. I guess Bray should have remained at Sun Microsystems and maybe worked on a sustainable software model that would have seen them survive as a force, instead of being subsumed by Oracle.

  • Comment number 83.

    The iPhone is a fashion accessory. It is technically inferior in one or more ways to the majority of smartphones on the market. It looks nice. Like all Apple products, it is a triumph of form over function. For most iPhone owners thats all that matters.

    Personally I will never own or use an Apple product. I begrudge being told what software I have to use to manage my music, or have to buy to bring my phone up to spec. I'm not one for designer labels or fads, either.

    In the meantime, people who don't understand and/or don't care about such trifles will continue to buy the iPhone, because its the iPhone. Until the next fad, when they will all upgrade from the iPhone, and it will be forgotten. Its just well documented human nature, and marketing men have been trying to exploit that for decades.

  • Comment number 84.

    AxelRanges: if the iPhone is a fashion accessory, why has the whole mobile industry suddenly noticed that they also need to have touch screens, app stores & a useable UI ... probably because a diminishing no. of 'AlexRanges' are bunkered down and refusing to move on. Poor you. 'Triumph of form over function' .... I would suggest that what Apple have done is provide a Triumph of form WITH function. I think you will find that people who have owned an iPhone will CONTINUE to own either their current iPhone or upgrade to a later, similar form factor model of an iPhone.

  • Comment number 85.

    @ 58. _Ewan_ wrote:
    [Sun gave us Java] And OpenOffice, and OpenSolaris, and lustre and btrfs and (sortof) MySQL, and the Sparc processor, and a boatload of accessibility work, and lots more besides.

    My reply:
    Actually BtrFS is not a sun project. It's a GNU project at building a GPL compatible ZFS (which is a sun project).

  • Comment number 86.

    Well the whole success of iPhone shows people actually like to be controled it would seem. At least most of them don't mind that a corporation can limit what they can do with their devices, or in future even limit what they can see on it. The question is how is that different from Communism way where government decided what is best for individual? Government is replaced with corporation and as many found out less thinking and effort is needed if others tace care of you and provide you with security on web. Makes you also think why so many people in the West were against communism. Life was easier there i can tell you.

    The only problem is when you want to do something more with your life. When you have this really good idea, but you can go through with it because it is against the norm... But until you get to this point life is easy and good. Job waiting after you graduate, appartment provided, loans are cheap...

    Same is here with this kind of technology - as soon as you get a good idea to do something more with it you can't, because you are limited. Unitl then life is good and easy...

  • Comment number 87.

    Many years ago, I loved Microsoft products and services, but they became all domineering and I turned my back on them. I saw Apple grow and all looked good, but now they too have become the closed corporation that wants to control everything that they are involved in. So now I'm a Google man. I have my Android mobile and gmail, Google Calendar and other such Google services run my life.

    But I fully expect that in 10 years, I'll have moved on to The Next Big Thing and I shall shun Google as I have their predecessors. It's fast moving evolution and it won't stop.

  • Comment number 88.

    The last time my Iphone worked it had a web browser that worked like every other browser, without Apple restrictions. It also had an App store. Stores often decide what to sell. The biggest problem with this store is that a lot of the products don't work properly. The biggest problem with my Iphone is that its forgotten what it is and had to go back to the shop for therapy (or to be put down).

  • Comment number 89.

    To be honest I work in a mobile communications sector and I have no idea what phones are good or bad or what andoid is.

    Can we get this all in proper English please.

  • Comment number 90.

    Apple's continued stance on the use of Flash on their iPhone and iPad is setting a dangerous precidence that should be dealt with. I am a web developer who develops flash/html sites and more and more of my clients are asking me to srip the Flash out of their sites so that they can view it on their iPhone. Flash is a great technology and has really revolutionised the way that web content is viewed - if Apple continue their stance then they are effectively trying to control how people develop for the web.

    How long do you think it will be before they announce their own 'Flash like' technology?

    Don't get me wrong, I love what they do (mostly) and own both an iPhone and an iMac as well as various Windows PCs. They have a knack of making their stuff just work out of the box, which other manufacturers are having a hard time getting up to speed with. However, the restrictions on Flash are shear protectionism and have nothing to do with protecting their users from unsavory content. Also, a lot of the apps that they pull the plug on are either providing functions that are in direct competition with their own products or those of the telephone network providers who they have to keep happy. It has nothing to do with appropriate content and everything to do with profit maximisation.

    There is nothing wrong with that in the commercial world in general, but as the EU have come down so heavilly on Microsoft, it is bad for the industry as a whole if Apple are allowed to get away with it. They are no longer the 'David' to Microsoft's 'Goliath' and they need to tow the line like everyone else.

  • Comment number 91.

    Good post, got everyone discussing and isn't that the point?

    This whole question of closed systems and 'is Apple evil?' does eventually come down to personal choice. I must have been through about 6 different Windows computers, every one of them 'open' for me to tinker with the insides and install all kinds of random software and apps (even ones i didn't know i was installing!) and you know what happened? Every one of them went haywire and stopped working. So, if each one of those was £500 i've spent about £3,000 on Windows PCs which keep going wrong. Oh it's lovely to know that i can unscrew the back and replace all the components but how often did i even consider doing that? Never. How many of my friends have? None.

    I've now had a Macbook and an iPhone for a couple of years and they work. All the time. Without any problems. Ever. Do i care that Apple has blocked some random stuff that i might potentially be able to do to my iPhone? No. Why would I? I bought it to be a phone and a music player and it does both those things without any fuss.

    It's great that other phone hardware and software exists for the 0.001% of people who want to muck around with their phones but i hope they don't start crying when their phone operating systems start crashing every few hours like Windows does due to all the corrupted and incompatible mess they've put on it.

    Oh, and one final point; apart from the very first ones, the early Apple computers were all sealed cases. Wozniak wanted users to be able to tinker with them, but Jobs wanted them sealed so that they couldn't be mangled by incompetent attempts at 'upgrades'

    Is this a form of control? Yes, but control isn't always a bad thing ... especially when it saves people from their own stupidity. If you want to mess around with your PCs and phones, keep buying new kit every year. If you want your PCs and phones to keep working as they were designed to do, then why not consider Apple products and forget the 'I hate Apple because the media has told me to' excuses

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 90. At 10:22am on 17 Mar 2010, Jedra wrote:

    you said:
    Apple's continued stance on the use of Flash on their iPhone and iPad is setting a dangerous precidence that should be dealt with. I am a web developer who develops flash/html sites and more and more of my clients are asking me to srip the Flash out of their sites so that they can view it on their iPhone. Flash is a great technology and has really revolutionised the way that web content is viewed - if Apple continue their stance then they are effectively trying to control how people develop for the web.

    My reply:
    About the only decision Apple has made that I agree with is stripping Flash.
    Flash is not needed online anymore. HTML5 easily covers what Flash did before.

    If anything, Flash is a parasite:
    * It's slow and buggy on all by Windows (thus millions of internet surfers from desktops running OS X and Linux to embedded devices and games consoles) don't get the same quality sites that Windows does.
    * It's proprietary so reverse engineering drivers for platforms that Adobe don't support is a mission
    * it removes browser functionality (copy/paste, back button, etc)
    * and it encourages lazy web designers to construct bad web sites (though bad web developers will always be bad web developers).


    Apple are doing the right thing in supporting HTML5 and the open standards that goes with it.
    Now all we need to do is push Apple into openly supporting Theora instead of the patent encumbered MPEG H-264 standard that seems to be favoured. (I believe Safari supports Theora/OGG as well as H-264 but Apple seem to make more noise about MPEG's patented codecs).

  • Comment number 93.

    "Few things are more nauseating than people using high minded political principles as a cover for their own resentment at being in second place"

    and few things are more amusing than see the companies who invented such specious arguments (and their fanboys who wittered on adinfinitum in support of them) try to backpedal out of the same standards being applied to them, now they find themselves in a pole positions.

  • Comment number 94.

    Microsoft have announced that for their next version of their mobile platform they are using an App Store (like the Apple one), and that it will be the only source of apps for it's users (like the Apple one for the iPhone) and that they will take 30% of each sale (like Apple).

    When can we expect the 'Is Microsoft Phone 7 evil' blog entry?

    One point about jailbreaking. Let's not pretend the majority of people hack their iPhones in the name of freedom. Some do it for perfectly valid reasons but most I would suggest do it to be able to install app store apps that have been hacked and made available for free.

    The iPhone is a good phone. For some people it's the best for their needs. For others the best is an Android phone, or a Nokia. Why are there so many pathetic people out there that can't grasp the concept that the same phone does not have to be the best solution to everyone? Happy with whatever you chose? Great! Why be so paranoid and insecure in your choice that you have to slag off other people because they dared to choose something else? Get over it!

  • Comment number 95.

    @ 89. At 10:11am on 17 Mar 2010, Courtney wrote:
    To be honest I work in a mobile communications sector and I have no idea what phones are good or bad or what andoid is.

    Can we get this all in proper English please.


    My reply:
    If you work in the mobile communications sector and haven't heard of Google's Android then I think it's going to take more than "proper English" to answer your questions. But I'll have an attempt at an explanation for you:


    To summarise in laymen terms:
    -----------------------------
    * Android is a smart phone operating system ('OS' for short) - just like WebOS, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and so on - I'm guessing you've heard of at least one of them.

    * iPhone is considered "bad" because it locks people out of certain services with no legal route around (unlike Android, WebOS, Symbian and Windows Mobile which all offer users alternatives to the corporate defaults). The upshot of this is that Apple dictate (sometimes fairly, sometimes not) what users can and cannot use, download and watch on their phone.

    To elaborate:
    -------------
    So the whole argument boils down to this: does despotism matter if the device works?

    Personally, I think it does matter. Many of the iPhone developers (some of who make a living from app store downloads) who have had their applications removed from Apples repository unfairly also agree. As do people who don't run an iTunes compatible OS or don't like iTunes.

    The people who generally agree with Apple's dictatorship are those that are happy with Apple's products and decisions. But who knows how quickly their minds will change if and when Apple force those happy users into new services that said users dislike or exclude new services that said users need.

    To conclude:
    ------------
    Most people probably fall into the latter "don't care" category. Apple, thus far, are pretty good at creating devices that work good enough for most people (better than many of their rivals).

    So people like me have a choice:

    1/ buy an iPhone and hack the handset to work the way they want - thus voiding warranty, adds potential risks of breaking the device and there's the whole other debate on just how legal hacking these devices is.

    2/ or buy another phone (in my case I bought a HTC handset running Google's Android).


    I hope that has clarified the issues for you.

  • Comment number 96.

    As others have said here, most people buying these products (iPhone, iPod, soon-to-be-released iPad) don't understand or care about the implications of a closed app store, Apple's unwillingness to integrate Flash or their stance on jail-breaking. Whilst I understand the desire for equipment and software that 'just works', is this attitude a good thing? Sure, Apple's makes very clever, useful bits of kit but many people I've seen using these these things haven't a clue how to use them properly, let alone appreciate the implications of Apple's design/business model choices. The amount of people I've seen who just walk around with a non-security locked iPhone is far higher than it should be - they have their email, Facebook, work exchange accounts etc open and connected, yet fail to acknowledge the fact that if the phone was lost or stolen their information is freely available to anyone who gets their hands on the unit. I've seen the same with laptops too, come to think of it. When people are as careless and apathetic about their own devices and data, it's unlikely that a significant number of people are going to raise any complaints about closed systems until it directly affects them. People really need to educate themselves about the technology they use.

    It has been said in other comments that using Apple's kit/software/user experience is a consumer choice, but when the closed system is as ubiquitous as the iPhone/iPod/iPad, that really isn't a valid response - as yet other posters have commented, company attitudes like the anti-Flash one coming from Cupertino has a massive influence behind it due to the sheer number of users they have; 'iPod' is now a substitute for 'MP3 Player', and many people think that an iPod or an iPhone are the only options available when looking for a music player or smartphone (this may also however say a lot about Apple's supreme marketing though). Perhaps Flash is a slightly trivial thing to get too upset about, but the implications are enormous...giant corporations like Apple will possibly soon have the power and influence to shape the internet to their own purposes, which goes against the real philosophy of the web. Worst case scenario I expect, but it is a point worth considering.

    Personally, I use a combination of Mac and Linux machines, so I'm certainly no full-on Apple detractor (I love my iMac and PowerBook), I just think that it's important to remain aware of Apple's closed-source policy. And my phone? A Palm Pre, I think it's great...Palm almost encourage the side-loading of open-source/externally written apps and it does loads more than an iPhone can...multi-tasking, real keyboard, change battery, Flash (well, soon anyway)...

  • Comment number 97.

    @ 94. At 12:54pm on 17 Mar 2010, JN:

    The problem is the snowballing effect (you event hit upon this when commenting about Microsoft Windows Phone 7).

    Freedom is something that has to be fought for. If you burry your head in the sand then everyone will eventually follow suit as corporatism over-powers consumer interest.

  • Comment number 98.

    Come on. It is just a phone. Leave it alone.

    "Closed business model" is not evil. "Monopoly" is.

    You have a freedom to choose others if you don't like "closed business model" products. But if that market monopolies the market, that is evil as you have no choice.

  • Comment number 99.

    (Spelling correction of comment 98.)

    Come on. It is just a phone. Leave it alone.

    "Closed business model" is not evil. "Monopoly" is.

    You have a freedom to choose others if you don't like "closed business model" products. But if that company monopolies the market, that is evil as you have no choice.

  • Comment number 100.

    Interesting...

    The EU have forced Windows to not only allow a choice of browser (which it's always done), but to explicitly list those options to the user.

    And yet the most popular "smartphone" in the world is allowed to continue a blanket ban on any software which "duplicates the functionality" of the manufacturers own software (ie no third party browsers or mail clients). Apparently Apple are worried it might *confuse* their users.

    How does that work? I don't think iPhones are evil, just patronising, and I'm not prepared to pay big money for a gadget that patronises me.

 

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