APPLE is EVIL, You're All Fanboys and other half-truths

Apple-is-Evil.jpgThere is a meme afoot. Apple is evil. Its arrogant ways and dependence on the cult of personality are to be its demise. Developers are said to be unhappy. And, Apple Secrecy Doesn’t Scale.

Google-ification is the way, the RIGHT way.

The Apple Way can’t possibly persist ad infinitum.

revenge_of_the_nerds.jpgYou Apple fanboys; you just don’t get it. Ol’ Steve (Jobs) is fooling you again into buying his sugar water.

You’re just too dumb to realize it.

But, you know what? It’s a crock of sh-t!

In the here and now, Apple’s success is unparalleled, and the engine is humming better than ever on multiple vectors – products, margins, developers, profits and consumer engagement.

Simply put, the goodness of Google-style openness, and the good tidings it provides for consumers and creators, does not in anyway invalidate, lessen or neutralize the effectiveness of Apple’s proprietary, integrated, secretive, totalitarian-style approach.

delivery-room.jpgContrast Apple’s product birthing, operating discipline and market realization process with…ANYONE. That speaks volumes, I think.

That’s why in the burgeoning iPhone, iPod touch and (soon) iPad Tablet mobile broadband device ecosystem (46M units, 65K apps, 1.5B app downloads, 8B song downloads, and counting), unless and until there is a better alternative, the lion’s share of developers will bitch in the morning and double down in the afternoon…on all things Apple.

All of that said, a paradox for Apple is this. For Apple, it’s never about total units. It’s about value, differentiation, leverage and margins. Let others chase unit counts at all costs.

For developers, however, at a certain point it DOES become about units, if for no other reason than once enough numbers are installed on a given platform, it’s market share that is worth pursuing (by building native offerings for).

The part that is invisible is that at some point an Android gets ready for prime time (John Gruber ponders this one well in his post ‘The Android Opportunity‘); or a Pre-type of device establishes a real beachhead with developers; or RIM gets a clue in terms of an apps/ecosystem strategy, and all of the sudden, Apple is having to play defense. At the present, it is just running up the score.

alarm-clock-ringing.jpgWe really can’t definitely say WHEN the alarm bell will sound. But, to be sure, it’s a WHEN, not an IF.

Why? One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to mobile broadband.

The day is coming, though, and that is a good thing, inasmuch as lack of competition leads to sloth where product innovation matters are concerned.

Disclaimer: I generally (but not always) prefer the type of integrated, fully formed solution that Apple delivers to what feels like a more ‘lowest common denominator’ oriented approach by Google. Your mileage may vary.

Related Posts:

  1. Apple, the ‘Boomer’ Tablet and the Matrix
  2. The Scorpion, the Frog and the iPhone SDK
  3. Analysis: Apple June Quarter Earnings Call

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  • http://www.alienspaces.com Ray Scott

    Jesus, what a load of crap. You sound like a 4 year old screaming for his mommy. Did your app just get rejected from the store?

    I can’t believe they printed this BS on Radar. Google cheque in the mail?

    “You’re just too dumb to realize it.”. Thanks.

    Here is a news flash for you Einstein. Apple aren’t interested in those that don’t fit into the size they are making. Google are shitting themselves. There “we believe the future of mobile is the web app” was evidence of that. Funny thing to come out and say when you’ve launched an OS aimed at the mobile market. Then again, I don’t recall seeing anyone queue up to buy a G1.

    Maybe all the developers are supposed to run out and develop web browsers for Android. Maybe soon we’ll be able to run OpenGL ES based games in a web app on an android phone. Maybe not.

  • marcy d

    Ray, pot, kettle, black. Fan boys are famed for their uncritical, drooling devotion. Its possible to own Apple products and to have a more nuanced view of this company, which is far from benign in my opinion.

    Having a screaming hysterical and hissy fit every time someone ventures a mildly critical opinion about Apple’s walled garden (and thats EXACTLY what it is) is hardly going to make the grownups want to listen, mate.

  • http://www.megginson.com/blogs/quoderat/ David

    Evil and Successful aren’t mutually exclusive — just ask IBM in 1985, Microsoft in 1995, or, I guess, Apple in 2009. Fencing in the commons can be a very successful strategy for the one doing the fencing (too bad for the rest of us, though).

  • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

    A colleague has just forwarded me this article, and think I know why. I recently write a post on my own humble blog with the title “Apple’s transition from good to evil“. It was primarily a summary of the 5-point case against Apple recently blogged by Mahalo.com’s CEO.

    Apple brands are designer brands, and I generally don’t buy designer brands. It’s not inverted snobbery, I just prefer not to pay more than something is worth just to get a label with a trendy name on it. That includes iTunes. No matter which track you download you’ll be iTunespaying more at iTunes than you would elsewhere.

    Personally I tend not to buy Apple products. I’m satisfied with Windows both as a user and as a software developer, and I love the infinite choice of hardware options. I own various brands from HP desktops and servers through Toshiba laptops and custom builds. As somebody who is serious about computers and less concerned with trendy names, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • http://web.mac.com/stephenacaldwell/iWeb/Personal%20Web%20Page/Welcome.html SteveC

    I’ve been following this thing for a while in wonder and awe. Are we all forgetting that Apple and Google and all the other players are corporations. Whether benign or fascist, they are all after the same thing: your money.
    As a user, I don’t mind the restrictions that Apple places–the “walled garden” mentioned above. Sometimes structure and restriction are good things. That’s not a fanboy perspective. It comes from someone who like to turn on my technology and get things done. I could use Windows or Android, but I prefer Apple.
    One other observation: this battle seems to me like it’s being fought by the partisans. Neither Apple nor Google have to sully their hands with the constant wrangling back and forth. While it may have been bad for Apple to deny Google’s Voice app, Google has decided not to support the iPhone via a webapp, but allows Blackberry and Android to do so. I mean, I have no dog in this hunt (I hardly ever use a phone), but I see evil all around.
    Kind of makes you wish for the good old days when software was free and if you knew how to program you could build anything you wanted and share it. Alas, you can’t go home agian.

  • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

    A colleague has just forwarded me this article, and think I know why. I recently write a post on my own humble blog with the title “Apple’s transition from good to evil“. It was primarily a summary of the 5-point case against Apple recently blogged by Mahalo.com’s CEO.

    Apple brands are designer brands, and I generally don’t buy designer brands. It’s not inverted snobbery, I just prefer not to pay more than something is worth just to get a label with a trendy name on it. That includes iTunes. No matter which track you download you’ll be iTunes paying more at iTunes than you would elsewhere.

    Personally I tend not to buy Apple products. I’m satisfied with Windows both as a user and as a software developer, and I love the infinite choice of hardware options. I own various brands from HP desktops and servers through Toshiba laptops and custom builds. As somebody who is serious about computers and less concerned with trendy names, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • http://www.alienspaces.com Ray Scott

    @marcy d thanks for your hilarious comments. If you really consider this post written by a grown up, then you and I are reading different posts. I find it interesting that my comment is a screaming hysterical hissy fit. I notice you didn’t venture to comment on the points I make in my post.

    I guess you assume I’m a Fanboy, even though you’ve never met me. Just because I develop for iPhone and use apple products isn’t going to make me drool over the fact that MobileMe didn’t work properly when it was released. I’ve never even been to an Apple event *gasp*.

    So what if it’s a walled garden? So what if you can’t sync a Pre with iTunes? When you download iTunes for free, nowhere does it say you’ll be able to sync other devices. Apple are simply protecting themselves and if you’ve even read the iPhone documentation, you’d understand that. It’s their business, their products, and if you don’t like em, don’t buy em. But to come out and whinge about it, is just plain childish.

  • Joe

    Another Apple haring blogger. Go pick on Microsoft. They are still a monopoly.

  • http://www.megginson.com/blogs/quoderat/ David

    Apple does make some pretty neat devices. I own an iPod, because I can put any songs I want on it. I don’t own an iPhone, because Apple controls what apps I’m allowed to put on it: even in Microsoft’s monopolistic heyday in the 1990s, before its long, slow decline set in, Microsoft never had the cojones to limit who was allowed to write and publish Windows apps.

    More generally, though, I like the open web because web apps run everywhere. When we start embracing apps that run only on iPhone, *or* Blackberry, *or* Android, we’re going in exactly the wrong direction, back to the late 1980s again. Unfortunately, I’m old enough to remember the nasty world of proprietary client-server apps before the web freed us.

  • Brian

    IMO, Google and Apple are both benevolent overlords. They both provide products of much higher than average quality in a sea of mediocrity, and ask only for your personal information and money. That’s a pretty good deal.

  • Gazzer

    “Here is a news flash for you Einstein. Apple aren’t interested in those that don’t fit into the size they are making. “

    Not a news flash, given that’s exactly what the article implies. Some people don’t get irony or when an article starts with “There is a meme afoot:” it’s perhaps referring to what people are saying rather than what the author believes.

  • http://www.grauw.nl/ Laurens Holst

    Wait, who said people who dislike Apple do like Google? They have too much of my data, I don’t like them either.

  • Jurassic

    I’ve been a Mac user for almost 20 years. I’d never switch to Windoze or Linux. But I’m not what you would call a Fanboy. There are things that I love about Apple, and there are things that I hate about Apple.

    “In the here and now” Apple has been doing some things that any Apple “fanboy” would be screaming about if it was Microsoft doing these same things. And I don’t believe that the fact that Apple makes far superior hardware and software products give it entitlement to be excused for some of the things it has done.

    For example, Apple keeping apps that compete with its own products on the iPhone & iPod Touch, is absolutely no different than Microsoft keeping competing Web browsers off Windows 95. Both are example of anti-competitive behavior, and look what the DOJ and the EU have done in response to Microsoft’s anti-competitive behavior.

    If we can’t accept this from Microsoft, then we should not think it’s OK for Apple to do exactly the same thing.

  • http://www.alienspaces.com Ray Scott

    I totally agree with you Jurassic. Apple banning Apps that duplicate functionality such as email clients is just plain wrong, and they really should be stopped from doing that.

    What I have no time for is this walled garden bias. People whining because they can’t use a jail broken phone with iTunes. Was it in the manual or feature list when you bought it? Umm no. Get over it.

  • http://www.thenetworkgarden.com Mark Sigal

    @Gazzer, thanks for flagging the core truth of the post. It is amazing how many people read the title only or a paragraph, and then confuse the tail with the dog.

    @David, you nail an essential point, which is get beyond the tyranny of the EITHER/OR, and embrace the AND, or nuanced approach. One can love a product but question the propriety of the maker of the product. Similarly, there is no magical one right way (e.g, open, loosely coupled v. proprietary, tightly integrated, rigid governance).

    @Jurassic, on this front I agree with you 100%. Those of us who lived through Microsoft style embrace-extend-extinguish know that there is a line between doing what is right to protect/cultivate your platform and being predatorial or scorpion-like, a topic covered by my scorpion and frog post below. What that line is, I would rather not have the government ever attempt to legislate, but I am all for heated debate on same. :-)

    @Ray, I would very much argue your point against the crowd that assumes that it’s somehow evil or wrong to not allow root level access or jailbreaking to your device, anymore than a restaurant doesn’t post its recipes on the wall and/or allow customers to modify the main courses as they see fit. That said, perception is reality, and the same company that argued thaqt web apps was all that consumers needed is in its lofty position somewhat owing to listening to customers and developers who wanted a native application sandbox. So again, debate and nuance are a good thing from where I sit. It’s lead to a better platform, I think.

  • Peter

    Hear, hear, Jurassic! I think that’s the most offensive.

    Apple has done this somewhat with Mac OS X. For example, I love the integration with dot-mac/MobileMe. But why can’t I use this with some other back-end service.

    The same arguments I hear in defense of Apple were the same arguments I heard in defense of Microsoft years ago: “It’s their software, they can do what they want.”

    Wrong is wrong, whether it’s Apple or Microsoft.

  • moritz

    May I remind you: in 2003 apple opend the itunes store and everybody (including me) screamed: why the hell are they selling the songs with DRM! today we have jail free music from apple and also we know that the content providers wanted drm.

    you totaly forgot the network providers! the whole mobile industry is jailed by the network-providers. for me they are the real EVILS in this space of tech!

    the rest is just the game of the software/hardware providers. they all have to open somewhen. there is just no other way since the emerging of the hackers and opensource.

    first solve the network-access thing, than aime at the closed system providers!

    maurice

  • http://postlinearity.com gregorylent

    “think different” is the one thing you *can’t* do with apple products … a walled garden, not much future, except as mass market home entertainment company for the lowest common denominator who wants to ignore that fact ..

  • http://www.metapede.com Shawn

    Interesting post Mark, but I’m struggling to understand what your conclusion is. As far as I can tell, you’re saying that both approaches (open and closed) are valid and viable and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

    I think it depends what the “foreseeable” future is, because it’s also true that Apple’s approach won’t scale in the long run. I’m not talking about the closed and proprietary approach, however. I’m talking about the app store paradigm in general in the sense that as other platforms grow, it won’t be cost effective for companies to develop different native apps to distribute through five different app stores.

    Companies don’t want to hire Cocoa developers and Symbian developers and RIM developers and Android developers, etc. for things that should really be delivered through the browser.

    Browsers will need to get better of course, because you are not alone in preferring the experience of a native app to the “lowest common denominator” feel of web apps.

    Finally, @Ray, you should try reading things more carefully before you have a hissy fit, because the author of this post was only pointing out what some people think about Apple’s approach. He wasn’t taking one side or another.

  • http://www.metapede.com Shawn

    One quick addition to my previous comment… I think that one’s opinion of Apple’s walled-garden approach depends on one’s perspective about what the iPhone is exactly.

    I wrote about this recently on my blog, here:

    http://bit.ly/7mj0m

    But the gist is that Apple has decided to treat the iPhone more like the iPod than like a min Macintosh computer. People (like @Ray perhaps) have come to expect and accept a walled-garden approach with the iPod, but it rankles people who see the iPhone as a mini computer. With your computer, there’s no one dictating what software can be made and installed, nor where/how it can be sold.

  • mig

    So…. the point of this story is that Apple *is* evil…. but that evil can be entirely successful in the marketplace?

    Sounds like a line from Spaceballs, or a graduate school of management class, not a tech article.

    mig

  • Orlando Smith

    Anyone, who thinks that Google is open, is seriously mistaken. Google is only open on projects like Android or the Chrome OS, because of two reasons: First and foremost, Google gets a great advantage by being able to leverage Linux so that it doesn’t have to develop its Android and Chrome OSs from scratch, for the Chrome OS will be able to use the apps developed for distributions of Linux, and having an ecosystem of developers, who are familiar with Linux, but second, Linux’s GPL license requires openness, so Google has no choice but to be open with Android and the Chrome OS. Google, however, on its home-grown apps uses licenses that are every bit as proprietary as anything that Apple or Microsoft uses. Google licenses reserve to Google the right to exercise its discretion to restrict the use of its products according to fully panoply of rights granted to a copyright holder under the Copyright Act. That Google may exercise those rights today to permit greater privileges is not openness, as is found in the GPL or the MIT open licenses, it is merely Google’s instant view of itself interest and, I think, a desire to create the image of itself as bastion of FOSS. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    If Google’s instant view of it interest change, in that instant, Google will assert its copyright and/or other intellectual property rights, and the illusion of Google as a champion of openness will vanish.

  • Damon

    Shawn,

    No one dictates what software you can put on your computer, and for the vast majority of humans, keeping their computer running properly, not to mention getting the most out of it, is simply (by my standards) a nightmare. If you’re a techie that may be hard to see. I’d ask you politely to open yourself to the idea.

    If Apple is “arrogant” in controlling their platform, then I don’t mind arrogance. It’s from these restrictions that quality arises. Because of its IBM legacy, and IMHO it’s inferiority complex, Microsoft had to be open to every kind of 3rd party software and hardware and driver and forever kiss up like a pathetic weenie to legacy users… and what you got was…. Windows! (And a mind-bogglingly gigantic industry that tries to make it work.)

    I’m sympathetic to Apple’s need to control their platforms even if they get things wrong sometimes (don’t we all?). I love the reliability of everything working together, combined with the emphasis on design that just makes life better. Oh and the bona-fide innovation: e.g. commercialized GUI’s, commercialized online digital media, good mobile phone user experience, online mobile app distribution. You can’t chalk all those genuine revolutions up to a statistical hiccup or a “reality distortion field.”

    Restrictions spur creativity like almost nothing else, by the way.

    Does that make me a fanboy? Call me what you like.

    A user, a developer, and not a stockholder or an employee.

  • Adam

    “For example, Apple keeping apps that compete with its own products on the iPhone & iPod Touch, is absolutely no different than Microsoft keeping competing Web browsers off Windows 95. Both are example of anti-competitive behavior, and look what the DOJ and the EU have done in response to Microsoft’s anti-competitive behavior.”

    I think it’s totally different and I think the DoJ would agree.

    http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f3800/msjudgex.htm#findings

    Microsoft enjoyed monopoly power in the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems. Its share was extremely large and stable, protected by a high barrier to entry and customers lacked a commercially viable alternative to Windows.

    Apple does not enjoy monopoly power with the iPhone. Customers can find plenty of alternatives from other smartphone manufacturers: Nokia, RIM, Palm, Windows Mobile and Android devices. Apple can establish a “walled garden” for applications (the game console route), that’s not evil. Others can push toward open platforms.

  • http://Http://thenetworkgarden.com Mark Sigal

    @Shawn, thanks for the note. To be clear, what I am arguing is that one size does not fit all, and that the market is the ultimate arbiter of what works. While I also argue that real competition is coming and that that is a good thing, I am not one of those people who assumes that now is forever nor that inevitability changes behavior today. Case in point, the browser has been the OS nee desktop replacement contender since 1995 or so and we are still on desktops, native apps swarm app store, etc. The key point is that customers buy based on their selfish needs TODAY.

    @mig, it seems you missed the irony of the title relative to the core of the post; namely, that while a cause célèbre for many is to tar apple as evil, that’s a bunch of hooey. They have an approach that works on so many levels, and while it may lack google style warm fuzziness that doesn’t moralize the approach.

    @Orlando, we are on same page wrt google openness. While they are undoubtedly more open than apple part of that is that disruption of incumbents is core to their strategy. Talk to me when google search and AdSense is open source.

    @Damon, the “it’s a computer” argument is one of my faves. Arguably, your car, set top box and the MRI scanner is a computer, and most of us don’t begrudge makers of those devices for exercising their right to be as open or closed as they decide makes business. Net net is that there will always be devices for the hacker, customizer crowd and devices for those who just want it to work. Not saying they are necessarily mutually exclusive precepts, though

  • http://www.mercergarden.com Roger Mercer

    The purpose of a corporation
    is to make money for it’s investors. Corporations are rated by how well they do this.

    The life of a corporation is fleeting. It must make a product thato Its customers like well enough to pay their hard earned dollars for or it will very quickly cease to exist.

  • bowerbird

    none of these companies — apple, google, microsoft –
    is open and honest, and willing to communicate with us.

    none of ‘em.

    i just wish the open-source people could make stuff
    as good as what comes from those closed companies.
    that would be cool. but alas…

    -bowerbird

  • http://www.mercergarden.com Roger Mercer

    The purpose of a corporation is to make money for it’s investors. Corporations are rated by how well they do this.

    The life of a corporation is fleeting. It must make a product that its customers like well enough to pay their hard earned dollars for or it will very quickly cease to exist.

  • http://www.mercergarden.com Roger Mercer

    The purpose of a corporation is to make money for it’s investors. Corporations are rated by how well they do this.

    The life of a corporation is fleeting. It must make a product that its customers like well enough to pay their hard earned dollars for or it will very quickly cease to exist.

  • http://www.davehemmingway.com Dave Hemmingway

    Mark Sigal,

    Interesting article, but to bad its posted.
    Being critical is a good thing, but putting things in context and write them down need some more skills than this.
    you sound like a frustrated teenager with all my do respect.

    Dave

  • http://jessearmand.com Jesse Armand

    I could understand the Apple’s secrecy on their plans and products.

    But, why the secrecy on App Review ? I assume they have lots of weakness to protect there.

  • Nicolas

    I believe Apple’s tight control comes directly from Steve having been pushed out of his own company in the eighties. He doesn’t want that ever again.

    I love Apple products, but am no fan of their control scheme. This is a temporary thing, I’m sure.

  • Ghey Fanboi

    I can’t wait for Banana&2Oranges to start selling Jobbo’s turds, so long as they cost more than the turds that the common folk produce. They’ll be iTurds. And then a few years later, maybe Jobbo will announce something better than ordinary turds, and even the iTurd. It’ll be a BIGGER FLATTER iTurd that I can proudly pose with as I sit drinking my coffee in Starjerks. And if anyone tries to suggest that I am making poor decisions, I will immediately jump down their throats attacking them because I cannot distinguish between an attack on myself and an attack on the man I love, Jobbo, or an attack on the company that makes the iTurd so much better than anything evaaaaa!

  • alvi contador

    It is up to all of us to take Apple down. I will do my part by not writing any more apps for the iPhone and switching over to Android. I hope Adobe starts playing ball by yanking all of their products from Macs. Time has come for a smack down.

  • Ra

    What about their secretive manufacturing under very dubious circumstances in China (complete with very suspicious self-audits where only a tiny fraction of things were wrong – but reporters can’t even get near the premises where manufacturing is done)?

    What about the business of removing user freedoms as engineers, rather than enabling them? (Easy, nifty devices are one thing, but investing effort into making said hardware really yield only to themselves is another – not that they’re alone in doing something amongst these lines, but they are about the single most worst perpetrator)?

    What about price gouging Europe?

    What about assisting providers in taking liberties of customers, such as disabling tethering, in order to help them optimize profits?

    This is Apple. Of course them being dubious does not preclude anyone else from being dubious, too… Google is not a safe cure, either – but they at least act like honest engineers so far, not world domination org.

  • Mark Sigal

    @Ra, all good points, and no warm fuzzies for me personally in the categories that you flag. Thanks for spotlighting.

    Mark