Apple: An open and shut case?
I said when this blog started that occasionally I'd include short posts simply linking to interesting articles elsewhere. Here's one.
In 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...