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Apple: An open and shut case?

Rory Cellan-Jones | 09:16 UK time, Thursday, 4 February 2010

I said when this blog started that occasionally I'd include short posts simply linking to interesting articles elsewhere. Here's one.

iPhone with appsIn a fascinating and well-argued piece in this morning's Financial Times, the Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain expresses a worry that is now taking hold amongst many - that Apple has moved firmly from the "open" to the "closed" camp in the software community.

He points out the tight control that is now exercised by the inhabitants of 1, Infinite Loop, Cupertino over the software that can be installed on the iPhone - and in future on the iPad - and worries about the power that gives governments and content owners to demand that certain applications be switched off.

A couple of quick thoughts. It is a very long time since Apple was much of a standard-bearer for the cause of openness - look how it pursued manufacturers who tried to build unauthorised machines using the Mac OS or bloggers who uncovered corporate secrets.

But is the parallel with Microsoft and its lengthy legal battles with the American and European regulators quite apt? After all, the charge against Microsoft was that it was abusing its operating system monopoly - and it's hard to see a market (apart from MP3 players) where Apple has similar monopoly power.

Then there's the more difficult question - do consumers really give two hoots about these issues, as long as they are given products that work? From the evidence of consumer reaction to Microsft's long legal battles, probably not. But Professor Zittrain would doubtless argue that it's in their long-term interests to worry about any company whose obsession with control risks stifling creativity, innovation and intellectual freedom. You decide...


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  • Comment number 1.

    I don't think any user has a problem with Apple having a closed model. Apple users are willing to pay more to be locked into a particular ecosystem. Outside users benefit from increased innovation in the tech industry as a whole. Apple's business model relies on users that "buy into the lifestyle". After all, why is the iPad so much cheaper than expectations? Simply because they're making all their money after purchase. iTunes, iBooks, App Store.

    Apple users have always preferred simplicity and presentation over choice. I have an iPod, for those reasons exactly.

  • Comment number 2.

    I don't wish to start a flame-war but in touching upon MS's troubles with the law, I for one would like to say that I believe that Apple's behaviour is worse.

    MS has been punished for bundling IE with Windows.
    Yet Apple is allowed to force people to install iTunes (and, consequently Quicktime) to use their iPod and no-one bats an eyelid?

    MS gains nothing from people using IE, they make no money from it and other companies such as Mozilla don't lose any money as they don't charge for their competing product. Not to mention, most people see web access as almost an integral function of a computer, so to force MS to ship Windows without a browser is ridiculous.
    Apple, on the other hand, pushs people towards purchasing music from them by forcing them to use iTunes. Not to mention, they suffer no consequences from shipping OS X with Safari pre-installed.

    Of the two, whose behaviour is worse?

  • Comment number 3.

    Most consumers don't give half a hoot about such issues until it's too late, just like they don't read the health warnings on their crisps. That doesn't mean its right.
    When it comes to health, we expect medical experts to raise their voice. When it comes to techology and our civil (or economic) rights, we expect the same of technology experts.
    Apple was always eccentric. That was fun as long as they had an arthouse position in the market. With iPhone, iPod and potentially iPad they are moving into the monopoly zone, and should be treated with the adequete meassure of scrutiny. Already their desicion not to support Flash is putting unfair pressure on Adobe.

  • Comment number 4.

    Or, if someone wants to use Mac OS X then they *must* buy Apple hardware. That is surely worse than giving away IE for free, whilst still allowing people to ignore IE and install a competitor if they so wish.

  • Comment number 5.

    @Paul: exactly.

    Singling out MS because they are the biggest is ok if that's merely a first step and you follow it up by forcing everyone else to adhere to the same set of rules.

    But, if they're the only company that gets punished, then any excuses about protecting customers just don't fly - the EU's lack of action when it comes to Apple is tantamount to saying 'abusing customers is ok, just so long as you're only abusing a few of them'.

  • Comment number 6.

    There is an upside to them excercising control over what apps can be installed on an iPhone. No virus's, Trojans or other rubbish. That is a BIG upside now that smartphones are gaining wider appeal. Its all very well for people like Google to say they are open but lack of control means you end up in a similar situation as Windows (and now Mac O/S as well) which is becoming a wild jungle as far as security is concerned.

    Non techie people just dont know how to deal with that sort of thing so the nice safe world of the iPhone has a big appeal.

    All that's needed is to enforce Apple to clearly define its policy on what apps are allowed and to make sure that it is commercially fair to all vendors.

  • Comment number 7.

    I believe that it's both good and bad that any company has a closed model. Obviously the bad comes to light more when the company starts building it's monopoly. However, I strongly disagree with Mircosoft being forced to remove it's browser from the operating system, so that users have "choice". As noted by others all other OSs ship with a default browser (OSX = Safari, Ubuntu = Firefox etc). Having a default browser installed on a system doesn't stop a user having the choice to install a different browser. I run windows 7 on my laptop (with ie8 being the default installed browser), however use Chrome as my browser.

    However being closed also can benefit the consumer, take apple. By making their own hardware to run their operating system on, they can really create a product that does "just work". By controlling what goes into the hardware, they can develop the drivers, and operating system to use the hardware to it's full potential. It's not so bad in windows nowadays however you used to have to install all sorts of drivers after install say Windows XP, and even then things didn't work, or one would conflict with the other and crash the system, with OSX it "just works".

    The same with iTunes and the iPod, by making users use iTunes they have created a product that works really well. It's also one of the most simple mp3 set ups I've used. Yes it means that you have instant access to the itunes store (and therefore are more likely to buy from it) but you don't have to use it. You can still buy DRM free mp3s from other sites and use them on your iPod. There are even other programs you can use to manage your iPod, but none of them are as simple or as "good", "userfriendly" or "presentable" as iTunes.

  • Comment number 8.

    With mp3 players it didn't matter so much because all they really did was play music and the option was still there to use your ripped CDs or MP3s obtained elsewhere.

    It'll be different with the mobile phone market where there's serious competition from Google and the Android platform. And the iPad is up against stiff competition from Chroms OS and EVEN Windows 7 tablets that will be cheaper and do a lot more. Though it's hard to deny that it's a lot harder to compromise a closed system, so if you want an easy life and no worrying about viruses maybe Apple isn't so bad.

  • Comment number 9.

    When has apple ever been open? The app store has been open for over 12 months, nothing has changed since that time, apple has never open sourced any of it's software, or ever divulged any information about how they do things, ever. How can anyone suddenly be shocked by this now?

  • Comment number 10.

    @paul, @dempsi, et al
    Apple is not doing something "worse" than MS. Apple has no "monopoly" (look it up). They do have a high market share in one market, MP3 players -- because people choose to buy them.

    Apple has a "vertical" business model. How can it have a monopoly over its own products? That just doesn't make sense, and it is ludicrous.

    MS has a "horizontal" business model. They happen to do one part of the computing equation -- the software. As such they choose to license it to hardware manufacturers. They have a monopoly in desktop OSs on the worlds PC's. This is a given. There is little choice for computer manufacturers to choose an OS if the manufacturer does not make its own. What is the choice? Basically Windows or Linus. Can hardware manufacturers create their own OS? Surely. But they don't bother.

    MS has and does abuse its monopoly position because it coerces the hardware manufacturers into not exploring or presenting more options. It gives better deals or withdraws licensing deals from those who do not bow to its whims. How Apple can be compared to this is beyond me. Time after time MS abuses its position.

    Now, Apple does not interfere with other computer makers. It does its own thing and does it well -- it makes the "whole widget", OS and hardware. Why should it be criticized for choosing to do this? It doesn't have to make its OS available to other hardware manufacturers, that is Apple's prerogative. Should they be forced? Please.

    Apple has vertically integrated products -- hardware, OS, ecosystem, online store, etc. They have excelled in putting it all together with lots of planning and foresight. Everyone else is jealous. The hardware/software split model has proved to be second-rate. Too bad. Apple uses open standards within its products so things "just work". The consumer chooses this.

    MS is not "open" it is ubiquitous. It still wants the web and business and everything else to work its way or not at all -- they corrupted java, they want proprietary plugins for the web such as .net. And they basically want you to suffer the consequences of their poor software along with anyone else. That is the real tragedy. They have held back tech development for decades and cost business and consumers thousands of hours and billions of dollars in lost productivity -- so much for "open". But again, that is a consumer choice. Here, the German govt is warning off IE, just after sayin they have a govt program that provides IT support for all the hapless Windows users out there. Wonderful. I think MS should foot the bill.

    So, you would control Apple's business model? That is rather like saying to the BBC here, "Hey, we don't like paying your TV License, you should run ads (read malware and crap) like everyone else and you should be forced to do so." Well, who are we to tell the BBC how to run their business? So don't watch the BBC.

  • Comment number 11.

    Do consumers really give two hoots about these issues, as long as they are given products that work?
    No, but they'd quickly start caring once they find freedoms they've come to neglect have been taken from them altogether.

    Much like do consumers care about what the ceiling in their garage is made of?
    Probably not - until they release it's asbestos.

    My point is this - most consumers don't care until they realise it's too late. So it's up to the experts to lobby for change.
    And to be fair to consumers, most probably wouldn't understand the technology let alone care about it's ramifications.

  • Comment number 12.


    Whilst I agree with with the MS point I think Apple 'abusing customers' is off the mark. Consumers buy into the model that is offered - the consumers choice is what Apple offer out of the box. Surely if you don't like it, don't buy.

  • Comment number 13.

    I agree with Laurence (@11:13am) that the "consumers don't care about this" argument is a red herring.

    A few years ago, music DRM was an issue that only geeks cared about. "Normal people", we were told, didn't care about the music on iTunes being locked down by DRM: they wanted things that "just worked".

    Which was fine, while all they wanted to do was play music on their PC or iPod. Then they bought a new mobile phone and tried to transfer their music collection onto it - at which point music DRM ceased to be a "geek-only" issue and, within a short period of time, "plays on any device" became a positive marketing tool and iTunes had to drop its music DRM.

    I don't know precisely what will be the issue that causes the iPad's total lock-down to become something non-geeks care about, but it will become an issue at some point. Even now, "You bought it - but who controls it?" is a question that I suspect even non-geeks can see the value of.

    There is also another downside to this trend towards locked-down "appliances" rather than open computer platforms: many people may grow up only ever using locked-down appliances with no user access to "the innards". This will reduce still further the pool of potential computer science students and IT professionals, harming the UK's economy in the long run.

  • Comment number 14.

    Im a software developer working mainly with Microsoft technologies and I have to say that most of you are poorly informed when it comes to Microsofts issues with Internet Explorer.

    Unlike OSX and the various Linux distributions, In Windows (xp,vista,7) Internet explorer is an integral part of the operating system. Even now when you remove it, or coose not to install it, various key componentsare still present on the system. The operating system requires Internet explorer to be there to perform various interactions so cannot simply be removed.

    On OSX for example, Safari is just a web rowsing application and performs no other role and can simply be dragged to the trash without fear if you decide you dont need it.

    Microsoft were punished (and rightly so) because the design of their operating system forces you to have a browser even if you dont want it.

    Finally, there was a sugestion that Microsoft make no money from Internet Explorer. This, simply is not true. Their entire web technology stack is built around Internet explorer. Their business productivity suites, such as the Customer Care Framework depend upon it. Without IE, many of their corporate software offerings are simply unuseable.

  • Comment number 15.

    Some contributors have said that users have an issue with Apple's closed environment. Well; here's one that does!
    I have not and I will not buy an Apple product - however nice the user-interface and however slick the software - until they stop trying to tell me what I can and cannot do with it once I have bought it.
    I always compare it to the "physical" model. I can buy a CD wherever I like and play it whereever I like on any CD player anywhere. I want to be able to do the same with digital music, without anybody putting restrictions in my way. Yes, I know that it is possible to get around this, but why should I have to?
    It's the same with non-Apple software: I can buy it where I like, use it on what I like. But with Apple, you can only get Apps from the App store and they are all vetted by Apple and those that they don't deem "suitable" they won't make available.
    It's this sort of closed thinking that has leads to people "jailbreaking" their iPhones, so that they can do what THEY want with them. There is a constant battle between Apple bringing out new versions of firmware on the iPhone to plug the holes that allow "jailbreaking" and the "jailbreakers" who then find new ones.
    Sorry Apple; you won't get a penny out of me until you stop this stupidity.

  • Comment number 16.

    Apple, Apple, Apple. Will it ever stop? Even in this video more product placement

  • Comment number 17.

    Not another Apple blog!

  • Comment number 18.

    It always amazes me that people get so worked up when Apple are mentioned on this website.

    It's simple: If you don't like the way Apple runs it's business, then there are plenty of alternatives to their phone and computer products. Why get stressed about it?

    If Apple feel they are losing sales because they now have a reputation as a closed company, then I'm sure they will do something about it. However at the moment, it seems that they are doing the opposite as they have reported big profits for last year, so I wouldn't hold my breath for that to happen any time soon.

  • Comment number 19.

    Apart from the desire to maximise profits by forcibly direct your hardware users to use your software services (iTunes, Apple AppStore etc), the other issue is that this model keeps hardware prices down. Games console makers do exactly the same thing. It's costs more for Sony and Microsoft to make the PS3 and XBOX that the retail price. They make their money on the game software. Mobile phones are the same - you get a "free" handset, but then this is paid for in the monthly contract price. A solution might be to force (?) hardware manufacturers to offer two products - the locked one; and an unlocked one at its true price (probably at least 50% more).

  • Comment number 20.

    "It still wants the web and business and everything else to work its [Microsoft's] way or not at all" (robinson, 11:08)

    If you want to use one Apple product, you have to use other Apple products, regardless of whether you'd like to. If you buy a Creative mp3 player, you have a selection of software to use with it. If you buy an iAnything, it's iTunes (which doubles as a handy shop front) or nothing. I fail to see how this is different from Microsoft is alone in its - as you put it - desire to control everything.

    They're as bad as each other; if MS is punished for its actions, then there's no question that Apple should be subject to the same scrutiny and consequences, no matter which business model they follow.

  • Comment number 21.

    There is something to be said for freedom. Hey, I am as red-blooded as the next guy. But I think many people are barking up the wrong tree.

    By way of analogy: If I wanted a new home I could have one built.
    1) I could go with a bespoke "kit-home" made with the best materials; there are some apparent limitations, such as having six basic designs to choose from; but I know it will be beautiful (I can visit one and try it out); I know it will be wonderful to live in (everyone that has one says so). I know the costs up front. I can choose some colors and room arrangement and furnishings. And I know it adheres to building codes and standards, it has standard plumbing system, standard electrical system, etc. Well, ok, certain sofas won't fit through the front door, but there are plenty of good sofas that will work.

    A real plus is that I can have it anywhere in the world and they will respect my property: they will clean up after themselves and link the house into a standard infrastructure, or make it self-contained and service it for free; I can start living in it in a couple of weeks, and know that it will serve me for life.

    2) OTOH, I could opt for a cheaper DIY job. I could try and find a design or design my own, find materials off the back of a lorry, get the cowboy builders in and maybe have something passable in six months. Worse, while I am free as a bird to chop and change and add this and that, or take off this or that, adjust my budget, pay people off, etc., I find that I don't have free-hold use of the land because I have been swindled. What's more, the land-lord is a bit of a slumlord and cuts corners where he can. And the local drug-dealers think they can just camp out in the garden and deal from there. There is not a thing I can do about all this because the police are ineffectual, turn a blind eye or get paid off. The infrastructure is poor, and for all my promised freedom on the surface, I can't get away from a real sinking feeling (literally) and I can't improve my lot (literally). The costs and issues accumulate, and it is evident I have a real money pit. I have been so busy "exercising" the freedom of having exactly the house I want, that I have put up with living in a caravan on a muddy building site, let alone accomplishing anything else other than constantly dealing with something that starts to fall apart the moment it is built.

    In this scenario of relative freedoms, I would rather have free-hold land, power to develop my land, free outlook, worry-free infrastructure and existence, and basic freedom to get on with my life, to work, play and live. Rather than have apparent freedoms on the surface while the rug can be swept right out from under me.

    It's a matter of perspective. There is a reason creative professionals live in such houses -- not because the houses look good; but because they want to create out of a solid framework, so they can get on with showing their clients they are focused on the job at hand, not focused on constantly patching up and shoring up their own stuff.

  • Comment number 22.

    Apple specialise in lifestyle marketing, you are not buying a product, merely subscribing to a brand. You often hear the same argument raised in reference to Sky TV.

    Whilst you purchase hardware, the hardware itself is merely a subscription enabler. It is crippled intentionally so as to secure you as a customer. If you wanted a fully functioning box with access to all features, then you wouldn't buy a Sky TV box. Likewise with Apple and no different to dodgy contract terms. Save for crippleware being far more effective than a well worded contract.

    The purchasing of crippleware is a consumer choice and it really is a case of buyer beware.

  • Comment number 23.

    I want an e-book reader but won't buy a kindle, a more powerful phone would be nice but I won't touch an iPhone and if I were to consider a tablet PC then the iPad wouldn't be considered. When I buy hardware, it's mine to do with as I wish and to add or write software of my choosing. These devices aren't computers - just fairly flexible gadgets.

  • Comment number 24.

    As an Apple convert following years of PC use I think I can see this from both sides however on one particular point of Apple being a closed shop there are exceptionally good reasons for this most of which benefit the end user.

    Apple have control over the hardware and software including the App store, iTunes etc for a very good reason, to make sure it all works seamlessly together !!! How many people have had issues with PC's and software not being compatible or conflicting with other pieces of software/hardware. I certainly did when I used one. This is due to MS designing the OS and relying the millions of software and hardware manufacturers to make their offerings work with it. This is always going to have issues due to the millions of permutations of software/hardware you can have on a PC. Apple reduces the issues by controlling all the elements, the OS, the software (to a degree) and the hardware and for this I thank Apple as they do "just work" which is actually what joe public want in the main. There is nothing worse than technology that doesn't work when you need it to.

    Imagine if Apple did open the App store up to all and sundry to develop App's. You would get loads of poorly written software that people would download and pay for only to have their phone crash due to the software not being fully tested/vetted.

    Finally, I would reiterate that you don't have to use iTunes with an iPod and you don't have to use Safari (I don't on either of my Mac's).

  • Comment number 25.

    @robinson #10

    Thanks for your in-depth analysis. To sum up in a nutshell for those who didn't read your post; "If Microsoft does something it's bad. If a company not Microsoft do the same thing it's good." You certainly have a unique way of looking at things.

  • Comment number 26.

    Nonsense. Just jailbreak it and there are a plethora of 3rd party apps out there.

  • Comment number 27.

    @robinson #21 Your analogy is rather flawed there. Yes I can buy a kit house, vut if I bought one from Apple then I would only be able to buy my furniture from them and my electricity would come from them too. They wouldn't let me use gas as it's made by Adobe. If I modified the house that I had bought then they would try and send round a locksmith to change my locks and prevent me from going in. I could then get back in but it would be a constant battle with them to just use the house that I had bought.

    Your second example is regarding comeone who wants to build their own PC. Not someone who has built a readymade IBM compatible machine.

  • Comment number 28.

    As well as the "people don't care until it's too late and they need to" point, there's an extent to which people don't object to badness unless they realise there's something better. For a long time people mostly didn't blame Microsoft for defects in Windows when their PC crashed, they just learnt that that's what computers did. Most people just learn to accept the mediocrity as a practical matter because they see it as something the just 'is', rather than objecting in principle because it's actually something that's being quite deliberately done to them.

  • Comment number 29.

    While there is indeed the notion that only the hardcore geeks are annoyed by the closed model, this comes with a caveat. The hardcore geeks are the ones in a position to do something about it.

    I bought an iphone, well aware that the system was closed, but also well aware of the existence of jailbreaking. A certain degree of browsing leads to applications that let you do a lot more with your device, and this has started to happen on other smartphones too. It's a self-regulating system, manufacturers versus the internet, and I think it's better for it.

  • Comment number 30.


    "Unlike OSX and the various Linux distributions, In Windows (xp,vista,7) Internet explorer is an integral part of the operating system."

    Err... no it isn't, not since Windows 7 and possibly before. You appear to be confusing IE - which can be uninstalled - and the rendering engine which is integral to the OS. You know, kind of the way WebKit - the rendering engine for Safari - is integrated into OS X.

    Software developer my behind.

    As for closed and open, yes Apple are a closed and proprietary company. So are the majority of hardware/software houses unless there's a free and easy way to play PS3 titles on an Xbox 360 that I'm unaware of.

  • Comment number 31.

    Rory, if you want to do an article about open source you could have a look at Symbian going completely open today if you like.

  • Comment number 32.

    @Aidy --
    What are we talking about? Apple and MS "doing the same things", and those "same things" being right for one and wrong for another -- what are those things, specifically? Surely not having terms and conditions on their products and services? What's wrong with that? You got no problem from me on that.

    No-one is complaining about MS pursuing their business (legally); no-one thinks MS shouldn't "guide" it's developers in a certain direction; no-one thinks MS shouldn't rightfully protect what is theirs (if it is rightfully theirs); no-one thinks MS shouldn't dictate any terms on what they produce, sell, provide and service. No-one thinks Apple needs a knee-up and MS needs a knee-capping. The merits of each company are showing through as we speak. No-one denies that Apple is out to make a buck (as long as it is also acknowledged that they are also out to make the best products they possibly can).

    It does have to be said (apparently again and again) that MS seems to have no problem dancing with things that are, in fact, "wrong", wrongly motivated or wrongly carried out. This should be like people all up in arms about Nestle apparently dumping milk formula on Africa, or some other nefarious and notorious example of corporate heinessness -- only those most affected by MS apparently aren't bothered that everything operates through a thick layer of kludge. Now in this day and age, no-one believes in "wrong" anyway, so I don't know if anyone really does care if any one "does something wrong". Do you? But let's say, "illegal", "highly unethical" and "coercive." I'd like to see instances of Apple doing some of those things. Be that as it may, no-one believes Apple is "lily-white." So forget "wrong".

    The thing is, apart from all that "wrong-ness" or lack of it, MS is just plain shoddy. They don't care, they don't innovate, they don't make a difference, they don't create, they don't have vision, and they fix as little as possible. It is documented. Apple has a completely different ethos and philosophy. It is documented. MS goes to great lengths to spend money on repackaging, renaming, re-inventing and excusing its products, rather than actually fixing them or taking them forward. It is documented. So I would hope that people would look beyond what they are apparently doing the same, and see some of the underlying differences. Afterall, if I must look beyond my prejudices and try to see that everything that Apple does is not right, then others, like yourself, could look beyond the surface of some of these issues and see that there are some pertinent differences between the two companies, their philosphies, their products and their actions.

    What's apparently not unique is the thinking that the world that MS has commandeered is the way it "just is" or that it has to be; and that when this upstart Apple is put in its place, then MS can get back to business and somehow save the day. That's pretty wishful, but it's not unique. What's also not unique is that no lessons have been learned. What's not unique is that people can be all upset about Walmart invading their village or something, but can't see that MS has perpetrated a crime on everything we do, from top to bottom, from schools to govt.

  • Comment number 33.

    There are people who work WITH computers, and people who work ON computers. Those who work WITH are similar to those who work with cars, or boats: they understand everything about them and they actively enjoy the process of taking them apart and putting them back together and customising them etc. But many, many other people simply want to get from A to B without any hassle. They don't really care how these things work, and don't need to know beyond a few basic details: it's their destination they're interested in, not their journey. Apple don't make products for those who work WITH, only those who work ON. There need be no antagonism between these two sets of consumers: both have entirely different needs, and aims, from technology. Just recognise it, and stop shouting at each other over the fence.

    The problem has arisen because millions of consumers have been led, through ignorance, marketing, or even just cheaper prices, to make the wrong choice: I personally think that most people ought to be on Apple computers, simply because of the work they need to use a computer for: whether you're a designer or an accountant, you just need a computer that does what you expect it to, when you expect it to, with no trouble with security or incompatibility etc. Leave the MS and the Dells etc to the tech-heads who love tinkering, who surely are in the minority of computer users, just like a few people choose to be mechanics while the rest of us just drive our cars.

    Personally, I don't care about Apple's "closed" policy: it ensures seamless integration, and safety, and allows me to concentrate on getting my work done, without having to spend hours/days figuring out what a problem might be caused by, or what some obscure error message means.

  • Comment number 34.

    What's ironic is that Apple gets lambasted for being veritable nazis, when Jobs is known as a free-thinking hippie drop-out. While MS is largely responsible for a mono-cultural imperialism of vast proportions, dragged through the courts for years but let off by conservative governments that are thought to be too concerned for the business lobby and going to war.

  • Comment number 35.

    Oh, and just to add to my post above, it should be clear now why the BBC spend so much time talking about Apple now: it's not endorsement, it's a recognition that only Apple make computers that do what MOST people want them for: to get on with their work (any work that isn't actually ABOUT computing itself).

  • Comment number 36.

    Whilst I can see the argument for 'locking' devices as far as software/apps go to prevent poorly written software from appearing on systems I would have to say that I sincerly doubt that is why Apple do lock their devices. If this was really the case, why do so many seek to jailbreak there devices. Why are there apps that have been developed by 3rd parties that people are more than happy to risk breaking their devices to get? Surely if all the other apps were badly written then their would be no demand for them.
    Apple want complete control so all your money is spent with them, its that simple.
    Microsoft want complete control of the OS market so no-one gets the chance to compete with them for OS. The only chance anyone is going to have in breaking into the market is to offer free OS's as Linux is.
    Both Microsoft and Apple answer to the all-mighty share holder.
    Why does Apple not sell OSX independently from Mac's? Because it would lose revenue from Mac sales.
    Why does Microsoft not make its own PC's and stop selling Windows independently? Because it wouldn't be allowed (and shouldn't)
    What I am trying to say is that Microsoft's business model would not work for Apple, and Apples would not work for Microsoft. It is, therefore, almost impossible to compare the 2 companies. They do very different things and as a consumer, its great that we have these 2 models available.
    The open hardware model telling us 'look how fast/good our hardware is', and the closed hardware model telling us 'look how well/reliable we can put it all together'
    Both models feed off each other, and even if you are a devout fan of one, you indirectly benefit from the other.

  • Comment number 37.


    Absolutely spot on!!

  • Comment number 38.

    robinson @21 - Apple do give you a superficially slick service, the App Store with it's (more or less) quality controlled apps, securely signed code and one-stop-shop browsability is a great idea. It's not a new idea though - those of us in the Linux/Free software world have been doing that for years, we just call them 'repositories'.

    The problem with the Apple model is that they don't just offer the shiny App Store, they enforce it. If they allowed people to choose the safe and shiny if they wanted it, many people would. There's no need to forcibly stop the more adventurous minority from doing what they want.

  • Comment number 39.

    There's a lot of Apple bashing going on here based on the fact that someone outside of Apple decided to slap the wrists of Microsoft for something not entirely naughty that Apple happen to be doing too but are not being punished for.
    That's not Apple's fault.

  • Comment number 40.

    Just a reply to everyone saying that people are jailbreaking the iphone for customisation, this isn't really true. Most of my mates have iphones and they are jailbroken, but not because they want to customise the phone and use apps not available in the app-store ... it's because they want to download apps from the app-store and NOT PAY! Even though it's illegal, and apps aren't that expensive, that is the sole reason they are doing it.

  • Comment number 41.

    Graphis @33: There are people who work WITH computers, and people who work ON computers

    You assume that there's no interaction between the two groups, and you are wrong. It's the people that work WITH computers that produce all the lovely stuff that the people that work ON computers use to live their lives. With a free system the skilled people that care can do something good, and everyone benefits.

    I'm not a journalist, and I doubt I'd be much good at if I were, but I still benefit from freedom of the press. You don't have to be a programmer to benefit from software freedom.

  • Comment number 42.

    Apple equipment does not "just work", there are many examples of failure out there, so I don't buy into that. But Apple's continued Adobe-bashing is for a very good reason. As a Flash programmer I know just how buggy and unstable it is: If Apple continues to refuse Flash until it is fixed then this can only be a good thing.
    Adobe have taken Flash forward in great strides since the dark days of Macromedia but they still have a long way to go. Finally getting Flash to run reliably enough for the Apple Jobsworths may well be a price worth paying.
    Meantime, there are tools out there to convert flash files to apple files for phone & touch!

  • Comment number 43.

    @Ewan, there's every reason for Apple to stop people using non-appstore apps. When one of them breaks the device, either with a virus, or memory corruption or whatever, it is the device which will get blamed and thus harm Apple's reputation.

    Every time an app crashes a computer or causes it to freeze, the ineveitable reaction is "huh, microsoft is rubbish". Well, maybe there's a case for blaming the operating system for the bad habits of 3rd party software, but I have to say that since XPsp3 my environment has been pretty stable, and believe me, some of the programs I write have had horrible memory leaks and whatnot in them until they are fully debugged and tested.

    However it would provide them with a get-out .... after 3 weeks my new iPod Touch had to be completely reset - very annoying and with 50Gb of music, very time-consuming. And there was no-one but Apple to point the finger at. Their hardware, their software... "just works" my foot!

  • Comment number 44.

    To nixeon. Jailbreaking provides basic functionality that you can't get from the standard iphone firmware. I can have more icons on my screen, have themes, send MMS messages with my 2G iphone. I can tether it, use bluetooth, or make use of google voice. These are all things that I can do for free due to the interested nature of hackers, and they are things that apple won't let me do even if I were to pay them.

    Sure, piracy is rife, I won't deny that, but jailbreaking does not immediately constitute a tendency towards the illegal.

  • Comment number 45.

    The closed nature of the iPhone is what makes it attractive for me. I was using a Nokia N95 prior to my iPhone and had it loaded with apps, many of which were still better than equivalents that I can get from the App Store.

    However, it was a real hassle to install them - the average user doesn't want to have to plug in cables and copy .jar files. And that's without getting into apps that don't work properly, slow the phone down to a crawl, corrupt the operating system or infect it with malware.

    The iPhone has brought apps to the masses not because the software is any better, but because they can be downloaded and updated quickly and easily.

  • Comment number 46.

    Eh up, it's dawned on Rory that the sky is blue and Apple is closed.

  • Comment number 47.

    Dave @45 - You don't need to be closed to have an easy install/update system. We've been doing it for yonks on Linux desktops, and some of us are doing it now on Linux phones/tablets.

    App Store/Repository = Good,
    Restricting your users = Bad.

    They're separate issues.

  • Comment number 48.


    You say "But let's say, "illegal", "highly unethical" and "coercive." I'd like to see instances of Apple doing some of those things"

    Do you mean like when Apple ripped off Creative Technology's user interface with their original I-pods.

  • Comment number 49.

    "The thing is, apart from all that "wrong-ness" or lack of it, MS is just plain shoddy. They don't care, they don't innovate, they don't make a difference, they don't create, they don't have vision, and they fix as little as possible. It is documented. Apple has a completely different ethos and philosophy."

    It's difficult to take anything else you say seriously after that load of tosh. Microsoft do develop and innovate (although in fairness this isn't often in the consumer field), make a huge difference, do fix things and quite clearly have a vision. Of course, so do Apple.

    Silly nonsense which vilifies one multinational profit making company whilst proclaiming another one to be whiter than white is just one of the hallmarks of the delusional fanboy. You really need to consider what you write.

  • Comment number 50.

    Its the neverending Apple-Babble

  • Comment number 51.

    One action that was highly unethical from Apple? Easy. Steve Jobs ordering FROG Design not to do business with CL 9 because of his personal grievances with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

  • Comment number 52.

    Apple never was open. In fact, they might even be less open than Microsoft (wow) with regards to the App Store.
    Sure, Apple like to use open technologies like BSD, but they then encase them in glass and Apple iShine(TM) and make them impenetrable to everyone else.
    What worries me most is the iPad. This is something that many people will consider as an alternative to an actual PC (as in 'personal computer', not M$ box), and Apple will control its entire ecosystem. Jailbreaking will help, but the idea that Apple will have complete control over what many people can see is not a comforting one.

  • Comment number 53.

    Dan, Your comment:

    "apple has never open sourced any of it's software, or ever divulged any information about how they do things, ever," is not exactly true is it?

    It uses open source and puts it back as well. For example, "webkit was originally created in order to be used as the layout engine for Safari, and is portable to many other computing platforms." (Wikipedia)
    "WebKit's WebCore and JavaScriptCore components are available under the GNU Lesser General Public License, and the rest of WebKit is available under a BSD-style license." (wikipedia)

    You can find a long list of examples at

    On the same page you can also find:

    "If you’re a developer, we invite you to inspect Mac OS X under the hood, free of charge, by joining the Darwin development process or just see a sampling of the Open Source projects used and created by Apple."

    Apple is a closed source company that uses open source and contributes to that community. It also used to completely give away its (non-GUI) server and client software (although now there are some restrictions I think). Apple has also released a number of free tools to enhance the production of open source software for developers.

  • Comment number 54.


    Apple are totally entitled to build there products in any way they see fit. That goes for their software and hardware.

    No one is obliged to buy them. People have a completely free choice to buy what they want. If Apple make products that people don't want, then they won't buy them and Apple will go out of business.

    Microsoft's abuse of their monopolistic market position was to do with coercing hardware manufacturers, in 3rd party companies, to install Microsoft software to the *exclusion* of other companies' software. They abused their market position by threatening to refuse to sell Windows to these manufacturers, if they did not comply. This threat was of concern because the hardware companies knew that they could not survive in business, if their hardware did not ship with Windows. It's a form of blackmail really.

    The two cases are totally different. There is no similarity. For it to be the same, Apple would have to use some form of coercion on Adobe, whereas all they appear to be doing, is simply saying, we don't want to use your software on our product. They offer an explanation, but I don't see that they have to.

  • Comment number 55.

    Currently there is one piece of software on my computer that does not work. That is iTunes. Every time I open it, I receive a warning that particular drivers are missing and that I cannot import CDs. Apparently this is caused by conflicting CD burning software. I haven't installed any, and this only came about when I updated iTunes so I think the blame lies with Apple. Looking at the support forums it seems that I am not the only one. 'Just works'. I can work around this but it's not ideal.

    Personally, I see nothing wrong with closed software as long as it isn't overly anti competitive. So setting your own browser to default but providing the option to install an alternative is perfectly fine. Remember, these companies invest millions in their products, they aren't likely to just give them away for free! As long as customers are given a choice and are aware of the choices available and/or short comings of a product that they are about to buy, then I have nothing against closed (to an extent) systems. I do think that being open creates a level of trust and loyalty in consumers, such as Valve with their Source game engine, with the Source SDK free to download and develop to your heart's content.

  • Comment number 56.

    It is not illegal to have a monpoly. However it IS illegal to abuse a monopoly.

    That's the difference. Microsoft quite clearly abused their monopoly to crush their competitors (remember Netscape?).

  • Comment number 57.

    I give quite a few hoots about the issue, which is why I've been trying to move away from the iPhone. Unfortunatly there just isn't an alternative yet that I've tested. I resent the fact that Apple thinks they can tell me what I can and cant do with my phone (like only use Skype over WiFi).

    I'll happily give up a bit of the slickness for more freedom although I still don't understand why people seem to think it has to be one or the other.

  • Comment number 58.

    As a Flash Web developer (I develop flash content and not stand alone applications - so the converter App in CS5 will not help me) I am dismayed to see that Apple are continuing with their boycott of this platform. I find it mind boggling that the EU continue to bash Microsoft for their 'anti-competetive' stance when Apple are blatantly this.

    For me it is causing no end of pain having to explain to my clients why their content will not work on the iPhone and I will no doubt start getting calls soon about the iPad too. Yes, I could develop using alternative methods, but why the heck should I? Flash is contained in many, many websites effectively (inlcuding the BBC and the some of the sites that Steve Jobs demonstrated on the iPad).

    Apple argue otherwise, but this is protectionism of the highest order on their behalf and they are spoiling the web experience for many users by this continued boycott of Flash.

    Apple make great products, that work out of the box, and for that I am a big fan. However their policy on content is draconian.

  • Comment number 59.

    It's difficult to take anything else you say seriously after that load of tosh. Microsoft do develop and innovate (although in fairness this isn't often in the consumer field), make a huge difference, do fix things and quite clearly have a vision. Of course, so do Apple.

    Silly nonsense which vilifies one multinational profit making company whilst proclaiming another one to be whiter than white is just one of the hallmarks of the delusional fanboy. You really need to consider what you write.

    I know it's hard. Please don't mind me, I am not an IT specialist. I don't know how things are really supposed to be, so I do need educating. I would indeed have to admit to some fanboyism. Admittedly, I have been subjected to Windows at various workplaces, so I am not entirely unfamiliar with the daily grind.

    But back in my ivory tower, where I function as a freelancer in communications, design and websites, I have to admit to a complete state of blissful ignorance about the responsibilities of computer ownership. However, I can't be accused of simply being interested in the latest, coolest, best-looking gear... because believe it or not, I'm really a cheapskate and can't stand wasting money or time.

    My two computers in my office are older second hand PowerMac towers that I got on ebay. They are about 5 and 7 years old. They are on 24/7 and connected to the web 24/7. My investment has been mostly in OS upgrades -- a family pack every 18 months at about 179 dollars. And iWork family pack. And I have a copy of Adobe CS1 about ten years old. But for the most part I use OpenSource software and deal with online CMS systems that can be accessed from most browsers (a bit dodgy from IE admittedly). Oh, I have added a little extra RAM and a couple of harddrives.

    Weird, but true: I have spent zero/zilch/nix on security software, zero on support calls, zero on servicing, zero on anything related to the functioning of the computer; Zero time on (not one minute) on reformatting, defragging, phoning, servicing, replacing, or maintenance of any kind (apart from telling Time Machine which folders not to bother with).

    I really don't know how to explain my complete ignorance of what I should be doing, and I can't excuse my complete lack of activity when it comes to servicing an old computer network that is continually on and connected. I am completely naiive and maybe I will be forced to wake up and act like a "real" computer owner one of these days (maybe when Apple finally gets a few more percentage points of marketshare and the hackers take an interest, eh? ;)).

    Still, ignorance (willful on my part) is bliss, you know? I see my clients and their new Windows computers, and I am glad I don't know anything about how computers are "supposed" to work, because I can gracefully decline from any sort of IT discussion. I work with standard media content, printed publications, video and standards-based websites -- and that is thankfully enough (naturally, I set the websites up on Linux servers with Apache, PHP, MySQL, etc.).

    But it seems to me they all have regular issues and crises at least every six months like clock-work. I mean, heck, I really don't know what any of that stuff is anyway. So. yeah, color me clueless: re-installing the OS, replacing laptops, losing data, virus, wayward registries (what's a registry?), defragging drives (doesn't the OS maintain itself?), malware/bots/spyware (what's the big deal?), whether to stay on a ten-year old OS or take a chance, whether to renew a thousand licenses for everything you want to do with a computer and what you want to connect it to (I thought there was freedom), whom to call (MS, the hardware manufacturer or the vendor), whether to get a PC fixed or ditch it and start again (sadly, I have ditched a couple of Macs while they were still running and useful -- I could give them to my kids but they all have all the other old ones that are still running, and we are getting a bit overrun with old macs, it's a bit like LandRovers, hate to put them down).

    I mean, I have talked to a few other Mac users (difficult as this seems since we are rather thin on the ground) to see if I am just incredibly lucky, and to see if I should be taking computer ownership a little more seriously or something. Nope.

  • Comment number 60.

    @robinson #32

    Well I'm not going to throw credentials around on the internet, but let's just say that you obviously don't work in the field of MS products. Much of what you said is just plainly not true. Like many people you seem to have taken what people say about MS on some FireFox forum and have digested it and are now regurgitating it. Your views are not unique, it's not like you're saying what hasn’t already been said on countless "M$ suck" threads up and down the land. If you want to hold beliefs that are wrong then that's your prerogative.

  • Comment number 61.

    I too have spent zero time on support, servicing, reformatting, maintenance, etc; and my computers are also on 24/7. Yet I have several Windows machines!
    The only time I had to replace something was when the cat sat on the laptop overnight and its hair jammed the fan.
    I do see plenty of friends and colleagues who have problems with their machine, but it always turns out to be because they downloaded some third-party application which has caused the problem. In that respect, Apple locking you to apps that have been tried and tested makes some sort of sense (though anyone can write an app for the iMac), but this environment prevents you making mistakes by limiting your choice and life is all about making mistakes and learning from them.
    Apple want to control the content, they want to be the source for content, after all they make most of their money from delivering content. If they could find a way to deliver the internet through an iInternet site and make money from it then they would. So restricting content delivery systems on their devices shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.

  • Comment number 62.


    I too use a Mac, I just don't kid myself that it doesn't have the a lot of the issues that a PC has. It's interesting you say:

    "Oh, I have added a little extra RAM and a couple of harddrives."

    and then...

    "Zero time on (not one minute) on reformatting, defragging, phoning, servicing, replacing, or maintenance of any kind"

    I mean which is it? You clearly have spent some time on servicing and replacing so that doesn't tie in with your 'zero time' comment.

    Perhaps when you can manage a consistent argument I'll pay a bit more attention to what you type.

  • Comment number 63.

    Apple have been a closed company since Steve Wozniak left back in the early days. They may contribute to open source projects, but their software has always been (since the first Apple mac) propriotory to their hardware. Last year Apple sued a company that was building and selling non apple computers with OSx on it! They're a business, Steve Jobs is a marketing guru not a open source/IT guru. Steve Wozniak designed and built the first Apple (which was sold as a build it yourself, and do ANYTHING with it, kit) Steve Jobs was there to sell it. Steve Jobs is a control freak and in my opinion possibly worse than Bill Gates. Apple's 'cool' status comes from still being seen as an under dog behind Microsoft which they definetly are NOT. Not anymore. Both MS & Apple stole their OS 'ideas' which originated from Xerox. OSx is based on open source unix, which is probably the only reason they contribute to open source projects.
    Both MS and Apple are businesses, they're there to make money (same as Adobe) Open Source to them is advertising. I used to think Apple where cool and MS where the big bad, but not for a long time. Linux, open source. Android, open source. ( I work in IT and have 2 apple computers 2 windows and 1 linux, the linux one is the 1 I truly rely on). Business are businesses, there for them, not us! (the government are supposed to be for us, but thats a whole other issue!) If you get suckered in by their marketing, and think they're cool then you (and me once in a while) are foolish! But I guess thats life. Beats working in a field for the Lord of the Manor though!

  • Comment number 64.

    Couple of points I think are relavent. Firstly the internet isn't a product produced by MS. You buy a phone you get a suite application made by the phone manufacturers. You buy a camera you get the same. You buy a get the same. Why would you penalise apple for that?

    Secondly how much of the revenue from iTunes goes to apple?

    You want an xbox you have to use windows by a PS3 you have to by their OS. You go to their online market you have to use their built in app. This closed system is what makes console games superior in terms of performance to pc apps.

    Who has ever want to reinstall the OS of a random nokia phone or a random camera to a competitors OS? Who has ever complained that if they by a panasonic camera they have to install panasonic software?

  • Comment number 65.

    @ aidy
    Regurgitating? Mostly just looking around I think. You are welcome to comfort yourself that this is all just anecdotal and the result of fanboyism on a few forums; but I think you too will have begun to hear the dissent in the ranks over the last year or two. It goes against the established grain, but more and more mainstream publications, national news outlets and even PC publications are daring to murmur. Why, it's refreshing, don't you think?

    Oh, I do avoid MS products when I can, that's for sure. Personally I think they should come with health warnings :). Avoid the products, but can't help but run into the result of MS products -- both personally and by observing the state of the world (observations of, and headlines every other day, about loss of business from shut-downs and viruses, govt warnings and empty promises). I am laying it on thick, certainly; but if you are content in your stockholm-syndrome, then that's your prerogative.

    Don't worry, as standards are adopted more and more, and the playing field is leveled, innovative competitors will keep emerging; and it won't matter what platforms they emerge on, because they will all use protocols, media and formats that work to interoperable standards. It has a little bit to do with freedom, since that's what this thread is about. MS won't be able to hold it back for much longer, despite all the froth it churns out. You don't need to put all your eggs in the basket of one hegemony of a platform, one dinosaur of a company -- it's standards among protocols, media, files and networking that will make all the difference for the future, and the writing is on the wall.

  • Comment number 66.

    Apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple apple. Apple apple apple apple, apple apple, lo, apple apple apple apple

    There are other manufactures you know ... stop the bias and free advertising please BBC, I pay your wages!

  • Comment number 67.

    Microsoft are just as much involved with creating and using open standards as any other company. I feel that your biased anti-Microsoft view is clouding your vision here. Microsoft is no worse nor better than any other company. As fingers wrote, they are all businesses and their aim is to make money so they will all do things that make sense business wise. Just because it's cool to hate Microsoft doesn't change the fact that the other companies are doing the same sort of tricks.
    Open standards are certainly the way forward, and I think it would be excellent if I could take a video card out of an iMac and put it into a Vaio, or use iTunes to download music files directly onto my Walkman, or download an iPhone app onto a Nokia - wouldn't that be great!
    I personally feel that this will only happen when people all speak the same language.

  • Comment number 68.

    I work in higher education, both with and on computers. Most of the computers we have in our department are Mac. Not because they are cheaper – in fact Macs are far more expensive than PC’s, but because I am lazy.

    I like to have things that work. Macs do that, no viruses, no spyware and I know that any apps I put on will work as well. In addition to working on computers, I teach, using both Macs and PC’s and from a purely dispassionate point of view I prefer the Mac (is my usb drive ‘F’ or ‘G’ on this PC?)
    Are Macs infallible? No. We have had to replace hard drives, logic boards and screens. But we do that less often than PC’s.

    I have lost count of the number of PC’s that students have brought in with software/hardware problems that, in most occasions, need a complete wipe and re-install.

    Apple have a policy of ‘do it our way.’ I’m fine with that. There are many, many other manufacturers of computers, mobile phones etc out there and as a consumer, the choice is yours. If a particular company wants to conduct business in a particular way and you don’t like it, go somewhere else, it’s a free country!

    The main purpose of using a telephone is to contact someone who is not in the same room and the main purpose for using a computer is to create a document, listen to some music or send an email, something that 99% of people want to just get on and do. If you asked the average user whether they really want to get under the hood and tinker with the engine out of choice rather than necessity, the answer would be a resounding NO!

    So if you don’t like the way Apple does business, go buy a PC, Nokia phone and a Zune mp3 player.

  • Comment number 69.

    So much discussion on something that's not even news.

    Apple have been closed for many years. There's no transition here at all!

    The iPod and derivatives only support iTunes.
    You cannot run MacOS on anything other than Apple hardware.
    You cannot publish to the app store without Apple's blessing.
    You can only access the selected APIs published in their SDKs.

    But none of this is news.
    If you're happy in that environment, that's fine.
    If you want more open solutions, there are options for you also - just not from Apple.

    The only problem I've personally got with Apple's vision is that it's all or nothing. I can't buy an iPhone and develop for the iPhone on my Windows or Linux based computer. I have to buy a Mac.
    The result is not that I buy both, but that I buy neither.

  • Comment number 70.


    Apple and Open Source:
    Apple don't contribute out of some kind of philanthropy. They contribute because they have to. That's the licensing terms of using BSD as the core of OSX as well as various other products on which Apple products are based.

    Open source in general:
    Don't get all excited that open source is intrinsically superior anyway. Actually what Apple have done is take something esoteric and geeky and made it usable for the masses. Nokia are doing the same on mobile phones with Maemo. Ubuntu is still for the geeky I'm afraid. Linux has been around for over a decade and despite being open source with zillions of contributors, it still hasn't made it out of geekdom onto the mass market desktop. That's because nobody really owns it and it just fragments and branches wherever anybody likes. Luckily there are great outcomes from this, especially for servers - but that is still for geeks to care about.
    Nokia and Google aren't making Symbian and Android open source for the good of the community either. There is a commercial model behind each of them to be exploited

    Microsoft retarding innovation:
    Rubbish. Microsoft's job isn't to innovate (although it shouldn't stop them trying). Their job is to provide reliable and usable products to the masses with loads of backwards compatibility. If they were to innovate as well then they would kill off a few more competitors. Instead of blaming Microsoft, blame all the software houses that create applications to go on the OS and compete with Microsoft. As it goes, what innovation have Apple given us lately? OSX - shiny version of Linux, iPhone - see Symbian 9 years earlier for smartphones, touchscreen on a Phone - see SonyEricsson frequently a long time before, tablet PC device - see loads of commercially viable products around 2003, gestures - fair enough, but then gestures are ridiculous. What makes people think they look good while continually waving their fingers at their phone? See Xerox for mouse thirty plus years ago for a more valuable contribution to interaction with technology. What Apple have done is spend five or ten years refining someone elses ideas into something reliable and good looking. A successful model so far but can it last? Meanwhile all the other companies spend billions on R&D to invent things and have to get something to market quickly to get a return (and quickly might mean buggy or unpretty)

    "Standards based" blah blah blah. The problem with standards is that they stifle innovation. Obviously they are essential otherwise stuff wouldn't work together but don't go slating Microsoft for inventing its own standards on one hand and then not innovating on the other. Microsoft's myriad of Web standards transgressions aren't that much of a problem for the majority since they use IE, and in the workplace this is even more true hence business web applications often use ActiveX etc for a better experience. Perhaps if others stopped fighting so much against Microsoft "standards" and collaborated then the world would be a better and more advanced place. Alternatively Java? Perhaps you really ought to seriously try comparing non standard Microsoft web stuff against "standard" web stuff on Windows (the workplace of the majority). Unfortunately this is where Microsoft non standard components win hands down. The reliability and performance of Java (i.e. client side) is abysmal in comparison. Flash has been improving massively too and Adobe need to stand their ground. Seems this is Apple's problem to me.

    Defragging disks:
    What? We keep seeing this rubbish from people who clearly don't know what Windows is like these days. I use it all day for my job and all evening for surfing and I haven't had to defrag a disk in ten years. Nor has anyone else I know in the same situation.

    Yes Windows gets viruses more than Macs. Actually mainly careless people on Windows get viruses. Plenty of people don't by just not downloading "free" software from dodgy websites or opening emails and weblinks from dubious sources. Maybe Macs would be a better tool for the hard of thinking actually.
    Of course Windows suffers this trouble by being targetted because of popularity. It would happen more to Linux and Mac if they were popular enough to be worth it. But they're not.

    Apple's margin on iTunes/Appstore etc:
    Despite claiming they make next to nothing at these outlets (thereby implying that all the lockdown in products isn't so they can make loads of cash out of you) they are exaggerating. This is the future really. They don't own the intellectual property (music, books, apps etc) but they still manage to cream some profit off the top. Genius. Little risk, little investment, high volume, big reward. Ebay and Paypal already do this, Amazon haved moved into it too and even Nokia/OVI are at it.

    Me and Apple:
    I run OSX on my own computer. It just works. In fact I remember being impressed that the tagline is true. I run Windows 7 most of the time for work on my work laptop and prefer it to my OSX. That's because I have been using Windows for my work for over 17 years. I guess I'm used to it. Oh and because Windows 7 is so good - finally Microsoft have made good the fiasco of Vista. I don't have an iPhone but if I wasn't given a phone by work, I would probably buy an iPhone as my personal choice. Unfortunately for the phone companies, I don't feel the need to carry two or three phones around at a time. What is it with people carrying an iPhone AND a Blackberry? They do more or less the same thing. Is it really necessary to have both? Out? One in each hand? On the bus? I don't have an iPod. That's because I listen to more radio than music and my Nokia phone can do both. And browse the web. And get my email. And make phone calls. Great.

    By the way - it's not cool to hate Microsoft any more. That was the nineties. I think Google are the big baddies these days.

  • Comment number 71.

    If PCs were as bad as you make out then no-one would be using them. Truth is, they work just fine if you treat them the same way as you'd treat a Mac. I.e. buy something of quality rather than the cheapest box you can find, only install trusted applications, don't put new hardware on unless it's approved by the PC manufacturer, and don't fiddle with it to try to overclock it or that sort of thing. The people who don't fiddle with their computer (like my mum) generally don't have any problems (like my mum again) - there will still be a few failures but then there are with any system as you pointed out.
    In the end it's what people do to their systems that causes the issues, and then they blame the PC rather than the third-party components or dodgy downloaded applications.

  • Comment number 72.

    I liked Apple as an alternative to Windows Vista and I migrated to a Mac.

    OSX was great, it had the balance of a "just works" excellently designed UK and the simple ability to fire-up the command-line and get to the unix underbelly and fulfill my inner-geek.

    I lept at the chance of owning an iPhone, looked great, "just works" and "slick and usable" was exactly what I wanted in a phone, however my inner-geek was getting itchy, there was no way to get at the internals on the phone, you had to go via the Apple Gatekeeper (iTunes/App Store) to get any interesting apps and I couldn't sync it with my linux PC... hmm, the love-affair started to get some cracks...

    So I jailbroke my iPhone and the fun was back, I could put what I wanted on there, yes it might break my phone, but it was my choice to do so and my responsibility to fix it, the worst that could happen was I would have to do a factory restore if I really broke it, I could cut-and-paste (this was pre apple copying the idea of jailbreak app that did this and grudgingly allowing this), I could run multiple apps, I could even (gasp) change the look and feel of the iPhone (unthinkable to chairman jobs and his turtle-necked cronies) and sync with Linux.

    I had to support these "hacks" myself and there's no reason why Apple should have to support them, but I think they shouldn't baby their users.

    There should be access to the system, there should be a hoop or two initially to make sure a user doesn't end up there accidentally (maybe a disclaimer saying they whatever you do is your responsibility and the only support you'll get from apple is instructions on how to do a restore).

    I think what I'm saying is with devices like the iPhone and now the iPad they could have been so much more than they are (especially for the price in the case of the iPad) and they shouldn't need dodgy-hacks to get to the underlying OS and do geeky stuff.

    Apple should stick to what they do best, a seamless user experience for users that just want to work on the system, but not play the security guard and lock things down for those that know (or think they do and are learning) to play and let the system go further than they may have imagined.

    For these reasons, my mac (and my msi netbook... take a hint apple, we want a proper OSX netbook not a glorified web tablet (PS: I do have a separate install cd for the netbook, I'm not a copyright infringer, I merely disagree with it's EULA a little)) both now dual-boot linux and OSX my next phone is highly likely to be a Nokia N900.

    Nokia doesn't seem to be treating it's potential customers as dumb-consumers and is not afraid to let it's users innovate as is evidenced by the number of interesting articles and uses found already for this interesting (and powerful) little phone.

    Just for the record: I did think about an android phone, but although they run linux, android runs in it's own closed JVM and isn't THAT flexible without rooting (which is in itself a bit of a hack) but it's a much better solution than an iPhone.

  • Comment number 73.

    Apple works because they are not open, like PC where developers do all manner of unsavory code writing, invading protected memory space, etc.

  • Comment number 74.

    What I said was that we have more PC's than Macs that need looking at. Case in point, I have just had a Portuguese student with a generic laptop did not install any anti-virus software and due to the type of virus, we could not get rid of it from the registry, so we had to re-install XP.

    Now comes the problem; what drivers do we use for, sound, graphics card, ethernet, screen etc?

    If anyone has every had the misfortune to try and track down hardware specific drivers on the Internet will know the problems I am having.

    As for 'don't buy the cheapest box out there'. easier said than done. We recommend particular makes of laptops - Mac & PC, but more often than not, people are sucked into buying a cheap device because that's what that particular PC shop has on offer and they end up coming to us to sort out the problems.

    As far as no-one would use PC's if they were that bad - what other choice do they have? Due to the monopoly Microsoft have, it is almost impossible for mainstream manufacturers to bring out Linux devices, plus all the platform specific software that requires an MS OS in order to run.

  • Comment number 75.

    Swings and roundabouts:

    Apple does operate close dmodel on the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

    However, OS X makes significnt use of OSS projects like Samba, BIND, Apache etc. The Safari browser is effectively the open source WebKit browser and the company take an active part in a number of other OSS projects.

    Like Micrsoft it's easy to paint the situation as black or white, but it's not like like. Even MS, the so-called Great Satan, is beginning to dip its toes in the OSS pool and, in some cases, is beginning to see benefits. The fact is, that Apple's products will continue to mix things up in this way.

    Some complain about 'having' to install iTunes. No one forces you to buy an iPod and none of their products enjoy the 90% dominant market share that made Windoews a source of concern.

  • Comment number 76.

    @ robinson #65

    You admit you have no day-to-day experience of the software you're talking about but instead get your information from hearsay. It is obvious to any informed observer that you just don't know what you're talking about. You have a set idea about MS and its products that obviously don't come from first-hand experience and your vitriol comes from those misguided opinions.

    MS have made huge leaps in innovation and driving forward technology and the product development process. They are still a main player in driving technology forward (I'll use a simple example…Sony Playstation was like every other console on the market, MS release the XBOX with a hard drive and network card completely changing home gaming, Sony (and every other console manufacturer) release their next console with all of MS' ideas incorporated). Technology is stagnant until someone pushes through with new innovation which forces everyone else to catch up. Sometimes MS follow others, sometimes they're the one taking the lead.

    MS are also very much involved in the development of internet protocols and standards you love, as much as any firm with an interest in the area. In recent times it has invested heavily in web services, cloud computing and the like as well as rich-client web technologies such as AJAX. Yet again I have to come back to your belief about MS, how it works and what it's goal and visions are, and that belief is just pure ignorance.

  • Comment number 77.

    Microsoft don't have a "monopoly" i.e. manufacturers are NOT tied to shipping M$ products. They have incentives. If a manufacturer advertises a product according to the M$ rules then they can qualify for an incentive (i.e. discount or advertising budget etc). The manufacturers don't have to use M$, it is their choice. The reason they do it is that there is no viable alternative. The vendor has to support the device ultimately including the OS. They think M$ is easier to support than Linux. They also think more customers want M$. Actually I think they are probably right too.

  • Comment number 78.

    I see delusional stuff like this:
    (@laurence) "Microsoft are just as much involved with creating and using open standards as any other company..."

    and then disturbingly confused stuff like this:
    (@Chris) "Standards:
    "Standards based" blah blah blah. The problem with standards is that they stifle innovation. Obviously they are essential otherwise stuff wouldn't work together but don't go slating Microsoft for inventing its own standards on one hand and then not innovating on the other. Microsoft's myriad of Web standards transgressions aren't that much of a problem for the majority since they use IE, and in the workplace this is even more true hence business web applications often use ActiveX etc for a better experience. Perhaps if others stopped fighting so much against Microsoft "standards" and collaborated then the world would be a better and more advanced place..."

    You really have to chuckle, don't you?

    We are reading an article and commenting in this thread on how open, or not, Apple is. Many are decrying how draconian Apple are about participation in *Apple's own* products and *Apple's own* developer programs and in *Apple's own* online services. No sweat.

    By all means, protest about living in an Apple house when you buy their products, but forget all about the MS WORLD we all live in. Fine, don't notice the forest for the trees. Hey, don't buy an Apple product or service if you don't want to... but can the rest of us avoid MS' tentacles on everything, please? I guess I just need to shut and stop wriggling because I would realize how rosy everything could be with MS dictating EVERYTHING. Just imagine how we could all live together without petty squabbles if we just bowed to the inevitable.

    Well, I'll roll over and play dead now, but I am happy to see a break in the clouds on the horizon. Wake me up when you guys all get a clue about freedom.

  • Comment number 79.

    You mean if everyone does things the way you want them to, then there'd be no squabbles? Hardly sounds like freedom to me.

  • Comment number 80.

    "Im free to do what I want, any old time......"

    A track on my iPhone, not purchased from the iTunes store ;-0

    Friday afternoon fella's - lighten up...

  • Comment number 81.

    Yay, Friday.
    Hey, Laurence, you got it, that's exactly what I mean. Like IT depts who are kinda going to need to start lightening up and allowing for employees who will be able choose their own tools as people wise-up, try new things and start working from home more. A CEO here and there tries an iPhone, and next thing you know he is wondering why his MS-certified IT dept has such inflexible policies. Then he realizes his employees could be more productive and happier with a different computer. Then he wonders why this nonsense about needing to use three different suppliers is applied to hardware only, while all critical operations are relying on Windows alone. Then he decides to allow a few employees to *make a different choice*, which they do even if it means kicking in some of their own funds up front (as well as reducing their reliance on IT). Then he allows more employees to choose...

    You start to hear about more freedom in these corporations, and schools, and universities and hospitals and military branches, and you begin to wonder why it is suddenly in the news a lot. But you say, nah, Apple just has a big bad slick marketing department, Apple is trying to slip one over on us.

  • Comment number 82.

    you're right. I'm sorry. The small fall in OSX marketshare lately coupled with the fact that Windows 7 has acquired a greater market share in three months than OSX Snow Leopard, Leopard and Tiger have got put together must mean people are turning to Apple. Or is it that Windows 7 is actually rather good.
    Your CEO of course will ask his head of IT or CIO who also has an iPhone, why people can't do what they like. The CIO will tell him that unless he wants to rebuild most of the IT infrastructure so applications still work and security still exists, coupled with the stunning costs of Apple devices and the fact there is no-one who can support them means that he can't afford it. End of conversation and life carries on. My company actively supports Mac and Linux and people are free to choose it if they want. 3% of people have chosen it. 97% would prefer to have Windows thanks.

  • Comment number 83.

    Its incredible how much product placement the BBC devotes to Apple is there an employee share scheme for BBc employees to get Apple shares ? , huge announcement today about Symbian going open source that effects 330 million shipped phones more than Apple can ever dream about and its buried in the technology page, see a story about a real phone company -

    Symbian phone operating system goes open source

    By Jonathan Fildes
    Technology reporter, BBC News

    Nokia bought the Symbian software in 2008
    The group behind the world's most popular smartphone operating system - Symbian - is giving away "billions of dollars" worth of code for free.
    The Symbian Foundation's announced that it would make its code open source in 2008 and has now completed the move.
    It means that any organisation or individual can now use and modify the platform's underlying source code "for any purpose".
    Symbian has shipped in more than 330m mobile phones, the foundation says.
    It believes the move will attract new developers to work on the system and help speed up the pace of improvements.
    "This is the largest open source migration effort ever," Lee Williams of the Symbian Foundation told BBC News.
    "It will increase rate of evolution and increase the rate of innovation of the platform."
    Ian Fogg, principal analyst at Forrester research, said the move was about Symbian "transitioning from one business model to another" as well as trying to gain "momentum and mindshare" for software that had been overshadowed by the release of Apple's iPhone and Google Android operating system.
    Evolutionary barrier
    Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia bought the software in 2008 and helped establish the non-profit Symbian Foundation to oversee its development and transition to open source.
    The foundation includes Nokia, AT&T, LG, Motorola, NTT Docomo, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone.

    It's useful for them to say Symbian is now open - Google has done very well out of that
    Ian Fogg

    Nokia in full buy-out of Symbian
    Symbian to develop mobile apps
    The group has now released what it calls the Symbian platform as open source code. This platform unites different elements of the Symbian operating system as well as components - in particular, user interfaces - developed by individual members.
    Until now, Symbian's source code was only open to members of the organisation.
    It can be downloaded from the foundation's website from 1400 GMT.
    Mr Williams said that one of the motivations for the move was to speed up the rate at which the 10-year-old platform evolved.
    "When we chatted to companies who develop third party applications, we found people would spend up to nine months just trying to navigate the intellectual property," he said.
    "That was really hindering the rate of progress."
    Opening up the platform would also improve security, he added.
    'Mind share'
    Symbian development is currently dominated by Nokia, but the foundation hoped to reduce the firm's input to "no more than 50%" by the middle of 2011, said Mr Williams.
    "We will see a dramatic shift in terms of who is contributing to the platform."
    However, said Mr Williams, the foundation would monitor phones using the platform to ensure that they met with minimum standards.
    Despite being the world's most popular smart phone operating system, Symbian has been losing the publicity battle, with Google's Android operating system and Apple's iPhone dominating recent headlines.
    "Symbian desperately needs to regain mindshare at the moment," said Mr Fogg.
    "It's useful for them to say Symbian is now open - Google has done very well out of that."
    He also said that the software "may not be as open and free as an outsider might think".
    "Almost all of the open source operating systems on mobile phones - Nokia's Maemo, Google's Android - typically have proprietary software in them."
    For example, Android incorporates Google's e-mail system Gmail.
    But Mr Williams denied the move to open source was a marketing move.
    "The ideas we are executing ideas came 12-18 months before Android and before the launch of the original iPhone," Mr Williams told BBC News.

  • Comment number 84.

    While I completely agree with comments like #83, I do appreciate the fact that Rory has effectively admitted that Apple's "obsession with control risks stifling creativity, innovation and intellectual freedom". That's definitely a step in the right direction.

  • Comment number 85.

    Maybe I'm missing the point but aren't apple in the hardware business. They make the products. For the products to work they also provide the OS. Exactly like the Wii, PS3, XBox, etc, etc.

    Are people really disappointed when they buy the Wii that the old PS2 games they have just wont play? I wouldn't have thought so.

    MS sell an operating system. On it's own it's useless, therefore they license said system to the varying hardware manufacturers out there as none of these companies provide their own OS.

    I fail to see how these to concepts are even remotely similar.

    For what its worth I'm still waiting on Nintendo answering my letter of complaint re my now useless PS2 discs. I wont hold my breath.

  • Comment number 86.

    @robinson #78

    Did you know that all of MS' products are interoperable? I could get Excel to create a Word document that contains the content of a web page downloaded by IE and then use Outlook to send it via e-mail to an address that is monitored by SQL Server which stores in it a database to be made available via an IIS website. MS WORLD aint so bad.

    Mozilla? They can't even release an updated version of the same browser without it having compatability issues with the previous one.

  • Comment number 87.

    Apple gets credit from me for the amount of publicity it gets on its products that are admittedly good quality and nice design, but obviously not good enough to gain large maket share (3%?).

    But they know that, and are happy with it. They also know that without creating such a 'buzz' about their products, their market share would be a heck of a lot less.

    Their internal perception, and Apple fans, is that their stuff is comparable to a Rolls Royce or Ferrari - err, not quite. Neither of those have limits on what we can and can't do with them.

    Thankfully we are free to choose from so many other products, costing far less, so arguments and calls from people asking Government intervention is ridiculous, especially from the Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain, which you (Rory) think is a "well-argued piece".

    Regarding their app store, I don't believe people need to worry about the restrictions for much longer. Despite some predicting there will be 10 million apps (napkin stats surely): "peaking at 10 million apps in 2020"

    Such predictions are doomed to fail, and done without much thought. The 'public' internet as a whole is barely over 15 years old, and the amount of technological change during that time has been incredible. So in 10 years time, it's far more likely that their will be no Apps at all, at least not in the form they exist today?

    Developers have already found a way to create mobile Apps that run on any mobile phone with a standard browser. This is both convenient for them, and for all users, and therefore goodbye restrictions and control. Back to what the Internet is all about and the reason it was created for in the first place.

  • Comment number 88.

    Comparing Apple and Microsoft on the PC vs iPad/iPhone/iPod is unfair the comparison is xbox vs iPad etc. Or on a completely separate comparison Mac vs PC, although not quite. The xbox is a closed platform, there is no official routes to run free and open software on it, same as the iPad.

    Apple are acting completely within their rights to block flash, or any other apps. Much in the same way that Microsoft decides who can make software for the xbox.

  • Comment number 89.

    Apple (especially iPhone) users 'Suffer from a form of Stockholm syndrome'..

  • Comment number 90.

    I have an iPhone and love it but will not buy an iPad until it supports Flash. Why? Because I want to be able to watch BBC live news. So I'll stick to Windows 7 on my laptop until someone brings out a cool looking Windows based tablet PC
    Apple and Adobe need their heads knocking together!

  • Comment number 91.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 92.

    So I come from a largely open source background but have traversed the rocky road of Windows, through the largely uncharted area of Linux and finally ended up at Mac OS. Now don't get me wrong I don't necessarily intend to stay here. I'll stay as long as it serves my needs and then simply move on without another thought.

    The joy of Mac OS and all the alternatives is choice. I get to choose a closed, open and quasi open model. All of them have their advantages and weaknesses. Each motivates the other to push the model, be it innovation, performance or price. To criticise one model because it resides in one camp is futile... Its the end consumer that will make one or all them a success. If you don't like the way one vendor operates choose another, it benefits all of us.

    "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" - Jeanette Winterson

  • Comment number 93.

    So, did anybody actually click on the ft link - the whole point of this article?

    Until 12 July 2008 I never owned an Apple product and couldn't see the point in doing so. I wanted my computer to do what I wanted, run the software I want to run and use it the way I want to. It happens that I want to use it the way Microsoft designed their OS to be used. Why on earth would anybody design a computer system and hardware and miss out on a fundamental piece of the jigsaw - the right mouse button?!

    Looking for a new mobile phone though, I was holding out for Sony's Xperia X1, running Windows Mobile 6; although iPhone 3G blew it out of the water with it's hardware design and software capabilities. I wasn't over the moon with everything that the iPhone did. I didn't want to download iTunes to register the phone, I wanted to open the box and use it. Sure the app store is full of good (and poor) software, but maybe there's some software I want that isn't in the app store. I can't get it from that other website. I want to use Flock, not Safari - Apple say's I'm not allowed to.

    I am not allowed to choose which software I install on MY hardware, without their permission.

    Sony allowed me to install Sky on the tv I bought from them - even though it had Freeview built in. Microsoft allowed me to install Safari on my Vista PC - even though Sarafi is rubbish. Hell, I'm not even allowed to plug a cable between my iPhone and my TV - because Apple don't want me to.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what iPphone 4 brings this summer, but I'm also keeping one eye on the Xperia 10 (running Android).

    In terms of tablet computers, if I were to buy one, I'd want to be able to sync it with my desktop computer, not my mobile phone. I don't want a fart app on my computer, I want Execl!

    Apple have every right to run a closed book, they may not have a monopoly over smartphones or computers, but with every step they take towards increasing their market share, we should be careful and demand an equal playing field from the start - not try to reverse their decisions years down the line as has happened with Microsoft and the EU.

    One final point, while the iPod might have blown other MP3 players out of the water in design and useability terms, isn't it about the listening experience? My Sony Walkman produces much better sound quality than the iPhone or any iPod ever will. Unfortunately, they locked me into Sonic Stage - that's a whole new discussion!

  • Comment number 94.

    The main issue I have with closed source software is the user has no way of knowing what the software is doing. If I write a private letter on a Mac does a copy get sent to Apple without my knowledge? Sounds paranoid doesn't it, however there is nothing to stop Apple doing exactly that and worse.

    I would advise contributors to this blog to take a look at some of the lectures by Free Software Society founder Richard Stallman. Even if you do not agree with the guy he makes you think about the harm software patents and closed source software do to creative thinking and personal freedom.

  • Comment number 95.

    I will not buy Apple until I can use the formats for media I want not what Steve Jobs thinks I should use.

    I live in the real world where different bits of kit come from different sources, I am happy to mix MS products with Linux and I admit that Apple makes great products but their business model is not for me.

    Mind you I disagree with a lot of M$ sucks rubbish we get as well. Sure MS abused their position when they set out to destroy Netscape but that was decades ago. The EU decision about IE is wrong on so many levels it is unclear where to start, but the simple fact is that over the years people's expectations of what an OS had to contain changed. When I started MS fax was an important point - who uses it now? a browser is clearly a fundamental part of any OS now. WHat the EU decision implied was that it should have the right to decide what went into an OS - I can think of nothing worse - because allowing a dominant company to innovate would be wrong (how did we end up with radios and CD players in cars ?). Also the EU clearly could not understand that changing your browser in windows is so simple that even my mother could manage it and she is a person who struggles with the concept of the on/off switch

  • Comment number 96.

    "MS gains nothing from people using IE, they make no money from it and other companies such as Mozilla don't lose any money as they don't charge for their competing product."

    This is just not true. Of course, every commercial company that develops web browsers stands to benefit from it, or they wouldn't bother doing it. Think about the little search bar on the top right, in all likelihood, of your browser. Mozilla, Microsoft et al are payed hundreds of millions of dollars for the searches that are conducted via search bars in their browsers. That's just one way of monetising the technology, there may be others.

  • Comment number 97.

    I have three friends who are primary Mac users. But they all have a PC too.

    Everyone one else is a primary PC user. How many own Macs? None. They don't need them.

    Thats not a knock on the apple products, which do their job well. Its just reflective of the market place. By being so closed shop, the Mac will never be able to compete with the more irritating, but far more powerful and flexible PC.

    And no matter how much Maggie,Rory and Spencer try to push the apple agenda, 97% of the population; who pay the BBC licence fee, don't agree with them.

    Do blogs not come under the BBC review of fair journalism? Is that why we get so many apple blogs?

  • Comment number 98.

    Apple make premium products that are cleverly marketed and crafted so when you buy an Apple product you're unlikely to stop at one product. You're buying in to a way of life. Apple products simply look, feel and work better than a PC and Microsoft are just unhappy with that. Programmes and Apps work seamlessly between iPods, iPhones and Macs in syncronised heaven - why the need for third parties?

  • Comment number 99.


    "keithdsmall wrote:
    I have an iPhone and love it but will not buy an iPad until it supports Flash. Why? Because I want to be able to watch BBC live news..."

    You're welcome :-P

  • Comment number 100.

    Do you ever go a week without mentioning Apple in some way?

    Granted, they're fairly big and all, but I'm sure you could find something else to write about in a far bigger area.


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