We are iPad. Resistance is (not) futile

Apple may have closed the iPad, but you don't need permission to open it.

The rules beg to be broken.

Bear with me; anecdotes are required.

1990:

iPad CoverageTwenty years ago, I was 13, and my father was not. He owned a 286, or perhaps a 386; I very much did not. For him, his computer was a functional employee. It did what he told it to do, slightly faster than a mathematical child prodigy, and he cared very little for what that manilla box chose to do when he was not around.

I, on the other hand, was far more interested in how that slab behaved, and the psychosis of that behavior. I wanted inside. And while I was forbidden to play with the computer, I was not forbidden to open an unlocked toolbox, find a Phillips-head screwdriver, and put it to work.

At some point, my unscrewing of the eyeless computer definitely became play for me. I opened the closed system, and have been working in, with, and around computers every since. I was yelled at soundly that evening — leaving the various parts scattered around the room and then going to a church youth function without reassembling those parts might have contributed to the problem — but it changed me.

Rules? Sure. I learn best when there are rules, because they beg me to break them and see what happens.

2000:

I was a Java and XML expert, and Jason Hunter was not. He hated SAX and DOM; I had been teaching them so long that I’d forgotten I hated them, too.

He didn’t like the rules. He thought the APIs were stupid. He was right. He convinced me to open the closed system, and JDOM was born. Nobody liked us in those early days; certainly not the W3C or Sun, who was busily endorsing SAX and DOM in their Java API stack.

Now, JDOM is a core part of a whole lot of Java and XML processing. There are quotes from Sun on the JDOM quotes page.

2010:

A lot of people are upset about how closed the iPhone, and now the iPad, are. Cory Doctorow — who I usually enjoy — wrote a lengthy piece about the evils of the iPad and its awful closed system.

He says, among other things, this:

The model of interaction with the iPad is to be a “consumer,” what William Gibson memorably described as “something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It’s covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth … no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote.”

The way you improve your iPad isn’t to figure out how it works and making it better. The way you improve the iPad is to buy iApps. Buying an iPad for your kids isn’t a means of jump-starting the realization that the world is yours to take apart and reassemble; it’s a way of telling your offspring that even changing the batteries is something you have to leave to the professionals.

First, I agree completely with Cory’s premise. I agree that Apple has taken far too much away. I agree that it is infantalizing to require us to send in the iPad to get its battery replaced. I agree that we should not have the App Store as a great gatekeeper in the sky cloud.

But, my gosh, when did developers ever need permission to break things? When did Steve Jobs become not just rule maker, but some sort of deity that actually prevented me from ignoring said rule maker, and doing whatever I could with my device?

Again, from Cory:

Then there’s the device itself: clearly there’s a lot of thoughtfulness and smarts that went into the design. But there’s also a palpable contempt for the owner. I believe — really believe — in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Screws not glue. The original Apple ][+ came with schematics for the circuit boards, and birthed a generation of hardware and software hackers who upended the world for the better. If you wanted your kid to grow up to be a confident, entrepreneurial, and firmly in the camp that believes that you should forever be rearranging the world to make it better, you bought her an Apple ][+. [Note: Link added.]

I’m sorry, but this is revisionist. While the Apple ][+ might have enabled a generation to follow, the hackers were well alive before they were handed schematics. Case in point, my earlier anecdote: I needed neither permission nor instructions from my father (or IBM) to break into that enticing bland metal case and tear out its guts. I just needed a screwdriver.

In fact, there is a vast difference between an intention for a consumer to not open a device and an inability of that device to be opened. Thankfully, iFixit didn’t get the memo that Steve would be upset if you broke into the iPad, and opened it within hours of release.

Then again, perhaps they did get the memo. They just chose to ignore it.

Mike Loukides, a fellow editor and one of the brightest minds at O’Reilly, said it well (in email):

… the iPad presents a challenge, and that’s a good thing. The argument is perverse (closed is good because it invites you to hack it), but I think it’s valid.

Yes, it’s perverse. And I, like Cory, am strongly for Apple getting out of my way. I’d like things to be more open. I’d like to have an easier means of sharing my comics, and my books, and my data. (I actually think that is the strongest portion of Cory’s argument, and one I firmly agree with.)

But, failing Apple’s permission, I’m sure there are many, many 13-year olds, unafraid of dad — or perhaps very afraid, but willing to pay the price — and they are picking up their screwdrivers.

Resist. Why not? It’s how creativity is born.

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  • Josh Knauer

    I realize that this is not an answer for all situations, but our development team has found that the form factor of the iPad is good enough that we don’t need a special app for it. Our web app works just fine in Safari. Luckily for us, we chose years ago not to use Flash because it couldn’t effectively handle the rendering of the large datasets our customers use.

    Not having to deal with the app store, much easier deployment and less cost involved are all good reasons to focus more on web apps than platform-specific ones, if you can.

    We need to stop thinking of the ipad as a big iPhone and more like the big, beautiful touch screen gateway to the web that it is.

    Josh Knauer, CEO, Rhiza Labs
    http://www.rhizalabs.com

  • Mac Slocum

    Echoing Josh’s point a bit: Last night I clicked on a Facebook friend request in my iPad email client and it took me to the regular Facebook website. For some weird reason — maybe because I’ve been programmed by the Apple App Borg — I’ve only consider the Facebook *app* on this device.

    But here’s the thing: Facebook.com works phenomenally on the iPad. So good, I ditched the old Facebook iPhone app altogether and created a bookmark to the website on my iPad’s home screen.

    Apps may be pretty, but the web still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

  • Brian

    And just to echo once more, I was pretty bummed to find that Google hadn’t made a Gmail app for iPad … until I saw how great the HTML5-based iPad-optimized web version that iPad defaults to when you visit gmail.com.

  • Bill

    The iPad isn’t the device that you want to buy your kids in order to inspire them to hack. For that purpose, you buy them a netbook like the one Richard Stallman uses. But the netbook Richard Stallman uses isn’t going to be very good at letting your family share, collaborate and connect in the way the iPad does. In fact, it may be harder for your child to write an application that works on the netbook, rather than the iPad. Creativity, and inquisitive destruction are essential for the growth of the next generation of engineers, but the question is: At what level of abstraction will that hacking and creativity take place?

  • Marsh Gardiner

    By “invites you to hack it,” I assume you mean, ultimately, to root the device…

    Never forget that thanks to the DMCA, that is a crime (as @doctorow tweeted). More people need to get angry about this.

  • bruce wayne

    Great story !!!!!
    We dont need permission to hack….
    For me closing off hardware and software is saying that one has all the answers and that there is no further need to innovate…..Today it seems to me that there is a revisionist movement attempting to erase the past history of creative destruction that gave birth to many of todays technologies…..We must fight for the ability to program (Hardware and Software) and not settle to be programmed.

    http://www.factoetum.com/factoetum/List_of_Technology_Icons

  • Marcus Whitney

    Thank you for this call to action. I truly believe that we need to meet the challenge that Apple has presented in every way possible. Pushing Android devices to meet the quality that Apple presents (and not saying that’s impossible) as well as hacking iPads are all going to be as good for advancing the ball as Apple has been in their new found dominance.

    Thanks for this post!

  • Adnan Doric
  • Patrick Deuley

    My sentiments precisely. I collected my thoughts on the subject here: http://mocha0range.com/2010/04/why-i-bought-an-ipad-and-think-you-should-too/

  • Cory Doctorow

    This would be a lot more convincing if Apple hadn’t added just enough DRM to the iPad to make it illegal to create a service or business that helps people hack their iPads. DRM changes the equation: you’ve never needed permission to break your equipment before, but now, thanks to the DMCA and Apple’s hearty embrace of the anti-competitive characteristics of DRM, you *do* need permission, or you’re breaking the law.

    Lots of people have noted that Apple’s iPad DRM fell quickly and cited this as evidence that hackers will always be able to get around restrictions. They’re wrong. The fact that Apple added just a thin shellac of DRM to the iPad tells you that it’s not there to protect developers from piracy, it’s there to give Apple the wherewithal to sue hackers who try to distribute or commercialise their unauthorised iPad hacks.

    If you don’t believe me, try this experiment: whip up a PowerPoint presentation about your business plan to create an alternative iPad store that runs on hacked iPads, selling apps on terms that are kinder to developers and users. Then take it down to Sand Hill Road and ask every VC you can find if they’ll fund it. Donuts to dollars, every one will tell you, “You’re crazy, Apple’d sue you into a smoking wreck.”

    The model you’re proposing is one in which each person has to hack her own iPad to get the benefits of hacks. This is as if every Apple ][+ owner was forced to write his own Lotus 123 in order to get a spreadsheet on his machine.

    We’ve had the DMCA for over a decade now and I’m still amazed by how many astute technical people totally fail to grasp how deeply this changes our relationship with technology.

    When Joel Johnson wrote that Apple was trying to turn computers into appliances, like a dishwasher, he sounded like he was making sense. Nothing wrong with a dishwasher.

    But the company that sells you your dishwasher doesn’t get to tell you which dishes you’re allowed to use. They don’t get to sue companies that make dishes that might possibly be loaded into the dishwasher. They don’t get to sue you for figuring out how to cook salmon in your dishwasher. They don’t get to sue O’Reilly if it publishes a recipe for dishwasher salmon.

    Apple’s DRM isn’t useless. It is performing its function perfectly: scaring off innovators and sources of capital for innovation that seek to work outside its monopoly. To miss this is to miss everything.

  • Joel Johnson

    “When Joel Johnson wrote…he was making sense.”

    (Sorry!)

  • Joel Johnson

    Which is to say: The DMCA is the problem, then, right? Apple uses DRM to protect their business model, just as Google does to protect theirs. So why is this just an Apple issue?

  • Anonymous

    @Cory Doctorow:

    People have been sued by Nintendo and Sony for hacking/modding their game systems, but you’re not actively complaining about them–why not? Secondly, doesn’t Cydia have an app store for jailbroken phones? Only time will tell if Apple lets that fly, but let’s go after the companies actively suing their customers.

    The solution is not waging war against the Apple iPad, it’s crusading to get the DMCA repealed. You’re wasting a lot of energy and clout barking up the wrong tree here.

  • Alfred Newborn

    The logic here is astounding. Just because a rightholder doesn’t immediately sue a rights infringer it means that the actions of that rights infringer were completely legitimate and free? That’s like saying because the hollywood studios didn’t sue you for downloading Star Trek that downloading Star Trek is legal.

    The world doesn’t work this way, you can be wrong and go “unpunished”, but it could also come back on you.

    Let alone that this author totally ignores the legal and ethical ramifications. I see Cory mentioned the DMCA as limitation on both the hardware and the software.

  • Dave Cochran

    So, in order to open up the ipad, one must not only get round Apple’s veneer of DRM, but also get round the law.

    Psssh.

  • Cory Doctorow

    You’re right, Joel, Google’s used DRM twice now, first with the awful Google Video store and now with the YouTube rental service. Both times I spoke out against it and the services and counselled people to boycott them. I even went to Google and gave a speech about how stupid this was.

  • Jarett DeAngelis

    I think Cory is smack on the money here. The jailbreak community has already worked its way into the iPad; Dev Teamer MuscleNerd has posted a YouTube video of the iPad running jailbroken binaries. But as Cory notes, such activity is theoretically illegal under the DMCA — I say theoretically because I don’t believe that premise has been tested in court yet.

    This is a huge problem. Apple is driving the entire industry in a direction that is very, very bad for consumers and for the larger question of information freedom. Now, if I thought that this pattern of “appliance-ization” of computing was limited only to Apple products, I’d be irritated, but not worried. Instead, we are seeing Microsoft slavishly imitate this model with Windows Phone 7 and watching cellular carriers like AT&T completely fail to get the “point” of products like Android by locking Android handsets down and preventing sideloading.

    There are a few powerful forces pushing computing and consumer electronics in this direction. First, the fact is that the majority of the consumer market simply doesn’t care about not having root on their own device and it being actually ILLEGAL to obtain it. They just want the thing to be pretty and work well. They don’t care about the externalities — like the fact that Apple technically has the ability to wipe things off your device whenever it wants to. Second, there is the marketing benefit of following this massive control-freakery as a way of doing business — your product will always perform as expected because it cannot do otherwise, ever. Third, corporations and governments that benefit from DRM, like China, the **AAs, and the BSA, are huge fans of this “glue, not screws” approach, because it gives them more power over information endpoints.

    What concerns me is that as these locked-down devices get better, non-locked-down devices will become more and more expensive to obtain simply due to a lack of demand. There aren’t THAT many geeks out there. What do we do when what we think of as a desktop computer today costs $5000 adjusted for inflation in 2030? $10000?

    I firmly believe this is a real concern we need to address *now* rather than later.

  • Kalif Hassan

    You don’t need to use the DMCA in order to protect the iPad. Jailbreaking the iPad is mostly likely making a derivative work, this violates copyright law and the license for the software itself. You’re not allowed to make derivative works without Apple’s permission and you simply don’t have it.

    The fact is that regardless of the DMCA, it was Apple’s unethical and immoral decision to close the device from you that made, at the very least, software modification of the device illegal. What if even after you wipe the device there’s still some code in some ROM on the board that executes Apple software under Apple’s licensing terms, then there’s nothing you can do but rip out chips in order to avoid violating Apple’s IP.

    Apple went after Psystar in a similar way and won. Crackin, hacking, jailbreaking all creative derivative works even before the DMCA steps in.

    This device is closed on purpose and it won’t matter what your represenatives think, it is the decision of Apple to make it open. They are the IP owners, they are the licseneers. So whatever hacking you do on an iPad wrt jailbreaking, and even wiping it to try to install some ARM linux, you’re violating the license you have with Apple. You’re likely violating civil law and you could be held accountable.

    Repealing the DMCA is not enough, you still won’t have the right to hack the device.

    P.S. Videogame systems are just as immoral.

  • gever tulley

    I haven’t thought this through completely, but I’m wondering if everyone who bought an iPad also signed up for the Apple Developer Program ($99) would essentially open the platform? The open market could develop instant-build tools that used the lightweight version of the dev kit to install their software on the iPad/iPhone.

    I think it might work this way:
    1. I go to openIpad.org and use my paypal to buy the (possibly encrypted-and-signed) code for an application I want and download the installer.
    2. I double-click the installer, it uses the Apple dev kit tools to build and install the app on my device.

    Would that work?

  • Nathan Freitas

    @gever – that is a brilliant idea, save for the fact that Apple makes it ridiculously hard to even deploy your own apps to your own device during development. You need to jump through multiple hoops and approval delays just to get the right certificates setup in order to sync your code to your device.

  • Paul Robinson

    @gever – regardless of the technical issues, apple has legally tied your hands when you join the developer program. You have no legal software freedom, and you’re paying rent on your own code.

  • Eric Smith

    Kalif Hassan: It is NOT necessarily illegal to make a derivative work without the owner’s permission. Some derivative works are considered fair use. Aside from the DMCA, jailbreaking a phone isn’t much different than crossing out “phony” everywhere it occurs in your copy of _Catcher in the Rye_ and replacing it with “bogus”. You may have created a derivative work, but the publisher can’t expect to sue you over it and prevail.

    Apple would likely claim that jailbreaking an iPad (or iPhone, etc) violates the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions. I would claim this to be wrong because jailbreaking is commonly used to allow the user to run software that would otherwise be incompatible with the device. The DMCA itself, in 17 USC 1201 (f)(2) provides for reverse-engineering copy protection AND making the results available to others “for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs”. In this case, “other programs” is the collection of programs known as the iPhone OS.

    The DMCA fails the test the Supreme Court established in the Betamax case, which established that a device couldn’t be banned by law for allegedly facilitating copyright infringement, if the device was “capable of substantial noninfringing uses”. Most if not all of the “circumvention devices” banned by the DMCA are “capable of substantial noninfringing uses”.

    Also, section 1201 (c) explicitly states that “Nothing in this section [1201] shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use, under this title.”. I would claim that jailbreaking the phone so that I can run an application from Cydia, as allowed by the developer of that application, is “fair use” with respect to the iPhone OS.

  • Laurel L. Russwurm

    When I was thirteen, considerably longer ago than you were, my generation was oohing and ahhing over the amazing modern invention known as a calculator.

    My friend’s Dad had a fancy hi-fi setup and made himself audiotape back-ups of all of his vinyl so that he wouldn’t have to kill my friend if she accidentally scratched his records.

    There was never a question of legality. Back in those days consumers owned what they bought. The existance of DRM was unheard of when I was thirteen.

    The difference between then and now is that suddenly consumers don’t own what we’ve bought. No one has actually told us this. The rights holders have been attempting to convince us of this with propaganda, but we consumers continue to stubbornly cling to the idea that we own what we have bought.

    So now the rights holders are implementing laws like the American DMCA and the UK Digital Economy Bill. They are also secretly negotiating ACTA, in a bold attempt to force the entire world to follow their copyright dictates. (Okay, they’re trying to do it secretly.)

    The point of DRM is not to stop hackers from hacking. It is to send them to jail. When that starts happening consumers will KNOW that we no longer own the things we’ve bought.

  • omnivore

    This is not an Apple issue: but it is a clear case of a company with very strong legal resources using legislation to strengthen its business position. This is either an intended or unintended byproduct of the DMCA, but obviously without it, Apple would have no possible way to introduce these limitations and legal threats. But if they are there, Apple has in effect, an obligation to maximize profit for shareholders, another aspect of defective legislation that creates the monopolistic type of capitalism that we are increasingly faced with.

    Legislation like the DMCA is the product of elected governments. There is a lamentable history of legislation that has inbuilt bias in favour of large, pre-eminent corporations, passed on the pretext that it would be of general benefit.

    Cory entirely misdirects the issue here by making it an issue around Apple. Bringing it up in the context of other large pre-eminent companies that also protect their positions (Google, YouTube, examples he gives) is not an improvement.

    Of course, I’m saying this here, naming him directly, which I wouldn’t do on BoingBoing, having seen other posters be disemvowelled when they get too close to an arbitrary standard for criticism. That’s not the same thing, but the first time I saw it, and measured it against the degree of offence that I felt was justified by what people had said, I stopped thinking of Boing Boing as having a particularly fair or balanced contract with their readers, although I had thought, based on the groovy tone of BB that that was the case. I accept this, not because it reflects some reasonable standard of justice, but because the reality is that who has power will use it. The DMCA provides power to the large companies who have the legal means to exert it. Dog bites man.

  • Morality Matters

    @omnivore stop apologizing, when you act in an immoral and unethical manner you acting immorally and unethically regardless of your economic motivation. Maybe you should be intellectually honest and stop passing the buck, people (Apple) made a decision to act in the most closed manner they could. Just because it makes business sense for them does not change the fact that they are limiting you use on purpose and are unethical about enforcing it.

    Omnivore, the iPad’s software is apple’s property, they are the ones who choose how others will interact with their property, it is their choice. Not just the legislators.

  • Cory Doctorow

    No excuse is more all-purpose and less meaningful than “it’s our duty to increase shareholder value.” It can be used to justify literally any course of action.

    “We fired him because he was bad at his job and so we increased shareholder value.” “We didn’t fire him even though he was bad at his job because the lawsuit might have cost more than his salary.”

    “We used DRM to squash competition and innovation because it let us preserve our market lead and build shareholder value.” “We eschewed DRM because the FTC might have clobbered us otherwise, and besides, it makes us look like good guys and sells more units, and increases shareholder value.”

    Are you seriously contending that Apple management would had had to contend with a shareholder revolt if they didn’t use DRM to shut out competition? Which companies have faced such lawsuits to date? Where was the shareholder suit over dropping DRM on music in the iTunes store?

  • oomu

    what is the problem ?

    just get the f.. certificate (99$) or hack the device and program whatever you want

    with the official sdk and the certificate you can program in the device whatever you want (yes).

    the apple store will may not accept you , so what ?

    hack people ! and put the source code on the web.

    you app is not welcomed on the store ? put the source code on the web!

    I will provision my device myself and use your code , thanks.

    -
    (nintendo, sega and sony did not wait dmca or apple to protect their own business and control )

  • omnivore

    @morality matters:

    and where is the apology I made? Is the degree of your blinkeredness so great that you consider the statement of facts on the ground that don’t support your opinion only interpretable as an apology? Then your argument can be dismissed. You in any case defeat your own argument by pointing out that it’s Apple’s software. It is not your role to make the judgement of what is moral or ethical. Your opinion is your opinion, of course, but the level of entitlement that says that when a company invests hundreds of millions of dollars, in the development of a product that that gives them no right, within the law as it is written, to declare how they want the product of THEIR effort disposed of is ridiculous.

    @Cory Doctorow:

    Yes, that’s true, and SO it can be used to justify the course of action that Apple has taken, presumably after considering whatever options they have. Again, how you think you have the moral authority to declare what Apple ought or ought not do is far beyond me. What Apple cannot do is ignore the issue of shareholder rights, and no doubt that makes whatever moral and ethical debates they conducted more complex and more vexed. So what I am contending is that Apple had to take a course of action that showed that they had acted within the bounds of the facts, including the legislative environment prevailing. An appeal to Do The Right Thing does not meet any standard of reasonable diligence **in the current legislative environment** which includes shareholder obligations and DCMA.

    Yes, you have a preference. But your remarks are not different from concern trolling, or what the english more elegantly call whataboutery: you have no substantial stake in the outcome compared to Apple, you incur no liability in the decision, but you presume to claim a high ground that is based on preferences that are largely self-serving.

    For those not prepared to parse what I actually believe: I’m also against Apple’s policy, and I’m an Apple Developer and I find those terms even more antagonistic, unreasonable and assymetrical. I’m debating my relationship with Apple over it. But I’m not prepared to abandon a realistic appraisal of the situation, which includes the fact that it is not an Apple issue, but a legislative one, and perhaps one of unintended consequences. Either way, I’m also politically aware enough to know that the process of introducing legislation like DCMA, Sharelholder rights legislation and other legislation that forms the current businesses climate is of a piece with legislation like the Patriot Act: it arises from a philosophically consistent set of assumptions about power as it is embodied in corporations and government, and the individual. That needs to change, but that kind of change is far beyond the consumerist assumptions embodied in your critique. This philosophy IMHO, the legacy of Reaganism, and is something that survives because the larger assumptions of Reaganism, ie American corporatism, the preference for liberal democracy over social democracy, are embraced across the political spectrum. They posit a liberal individual who is primarily a consumer, and so protest is always contextualized as a consumer, rather than a civic issue. And the notion of the consumer is one that says that convenience and price are the primary metrics of the Good. Correcting things on these axes is relatively easy, but entails no threat to the underlying shared assumption of the consumer’s primacy over the citizen, and corporation over the individual.

    The change needed is on the same level as the Civil Rights movement, not a consumer movement. The bleatings about the iPad are just things handled by the Complaints Department. The issues are bigger, and I think it’s ridiculous to divert the issue into one of bitching about how a company interprets the laws in their favour. The issue is the law: everything else is a distraction.

  • omnivore

    DMCA, but you knew that.

  • artman1033

    As an AAPL fanboy, I look at it a different way.

    I see Apple trying to PROTECT the customer from viruses and other attacks. Apple has iTunes. If the system was open, what would stop attackers from “stealing” from customers iTunes accounts?

    TEAR ME APART…

    What are the “positive” reasons Apple has such a closed system?

  • R.

    In 1984 the Mac was the epitome of a closed system. You even had to buy your screwdriver from Apple if you wanted to open the case. This turned out to be a temporary situation. But it was also a good thing as it provided stability and predictability during the Mac’s “childhood.” So… a little patience might be in order here. And the back door to the iPad is wide open if you know how to build a web site. :o)

  • cowboy bob

    R.~you neglect to see were all this is headed, it will not be long and b4 your web page is displayed on a device your code will have to be approved and then you will be required to buy some ridiculous piece of code to add to the script or the user of the device will just get some stupid error. and any changes to your previously inspected code would create world avouch once agine causing the user to receive a stupid error

  • Adam

    The premise of this article seems like a thinly veiled attempt to provide ideological cover for buying into Apple’s poisonous vision of the future.

    Purchasing an iPhone or iPad at this point is voting for that poisonous future.

    Yes they are pretty, but you can say no.

  • Dervin

    This is just the general progression of technology, from a complex, hobbyist niche to a mindless consumer product. Cars, televisions, radios, kitchen appliances have all gotten more complex and closed, why should computers be any different?

    Second, for those of you who’ve been in a coma for the last 70 years, is the concept of planned obsolescence. Apple can’t sell the newest version if you can just pop open the case and upgrade the processor/memory/etc…

    To rail against Apple for their business decisions is to fight against capitalism itself.

    And that being said, humans are an incredibly curious animal. Children even more so, they’ll find ways to do it.

  • Koen van Hees

    I think developers should leave consumers out of it altogether. The standard mantra to keep evil away and convince yourself that a product is baaaaaad is saying “the consumer is stupid”.

    If you have issues with the developer model, the legal etc etc, then either don’t develop for the iPad or try and do something about it. That is not trivial. It affects developers and companies. And it does impact consumers at a certain level, but not enough to justify ridicule.

    I will buy an iPad for the simple reason that even in the (very relatively) closed apple garden of eden, I can still read whatever I like on whatever reader I like, which is what I have been looking for in a halfway decent e-reader since 2000. All the rest is extra. That’s my reason, but even if my reason was “I’m a fashion victim, I neeeeed to buy this”, so what? I do confess there is a certain amount of excitement, since it’s my first ever touch product.

    For that and other very legitimate reasons to buy a simple stupid consumer product, I don’t need developers throwing the W. Gibson definition of consumers at me. I rather like developers too much to really go into that and throw some of the IT, developer and hardware lover clichés back.

  • Bob

    Generally speaking I agree with your article. I do take issue with a couple of thing. First, I think you can replace your own battery if you like. If you go to iFixit and see them disassembling an iPad you will find it is not “welded” shut, but just needs some persuasion to be opened. Based on my experience trying to replace batteries in an old iPod, the $99 to get Apple to replace it would probably seem like a bargain. Second, as far as this “opened vs closed” business goes, I call as my first witness the video of some guy who hacked into an iPad and shows it running Windows 95 via an XX86 emulator. Now that isnt something I’m inclined to do with my iPad. But anyone who says you cant do the equivalent of what you did to your dad’s computer with a screwdriver is simply making excuses for their own lack of resourcefulness.I hope I’m wrong, but I fear we’ve gotten so lazy in this country that we want people to do our hacking for us.

  • bowerbird

    bob said:
    > I hope I’m wrong, but I fear we’ve gotten
    > so lazy in this country that
    > we want people to do our hacking for us.

    you know, bob, that’s not a bad idea… ;+)

    -bowerbird

  • Bokmakierie

    Apple makes products “for the rest of us,” and Cory Doctorow is absolutely not “the rest of us”. Anyway, he’ll change his tune as soon as the quilted, open-source steampunk iPad case hits the blogs.

  • bowerbird

    bokmakierie said:
    > Apple makes products “for the rest of us,” and
    > Cory Doctorow is absolutely not “the rest of us”.

    hey, cory is speaking up for all of us… and i’m glad he is…

    i might not agree with him on the single issue of the ipad…
    i don’t think its nature is all that important, in and of itself.

    but i absolutely agree with cory that if the corporations
    believe they can seize back control by closing things off,
    they _will_. and i agree with cory that’d be a _bad_ thing.

    and i agree with cory that the d.m.c.a. is an abomination,
    one that makes it too easy to make exploration a crime,
    simply by laying down a veneer of d.r.m. “protection”…

    so even though i won’t join cory’s campaign _today_,
    i’m very glad he’s setting off the alarm-bells so that
    if the trend he is worried about starts to jell, i am now
    prompted to _see_it_, and i won’t hesitate to _respond_.

    -bowerbird