03 March 2010


Barbarian Blog | Rick Webb
“It boils down to control. I’ve written several times that I believe Apple controls the entire source code to iPhone OS. (No one has disputed that.) There’s no bug Apple can’t try to fix on their own. No performance problem they can’t try to tackle. No one they need to wait for. That’s just not true for Mac OS X, where a component like Flash Player is controlled by Adobe.”

-- Daring Fireball: Yet More on the Unfolding Future-of-Flash-and-the-Web Saga
No surprise, but Gruber gets it. Performance is a distraction, and it all comes down to control. Going back to my point about Apple producing its own processors from the other day, you can look at the introduction of the iPod, iPhone and iPad as evolutionary steps towards greater and greater control of the device ecosystem – all the way down to the silicon.

(via secondverse)

Agreed. Where it gets interesting, though, to me, isn’t the morality of it. I have no problem working in a controlled, closed environment, provided it does what I need.

_ This is where I think Apple’s taking the real gamble – they are so very confident they can keep providing everything the bulk of their users needs. That may be so. But I can definitely envision a day where the whole shebang starts to deviate from my needs, and then I’ll have to move on. And that’s the other thing – I hope there’s something to move on TO. I suspect there will be, though. And I’m not convinced that Apple, by being closed now, is lessening the chances that there are alternatives to switch to down the road.
(1) Performance is a distraction.  Apple wants control, just like they have always wanted.  That was the story of Apple vs PCs in the 90's.  Sometimes it worked to their benefit (e.g. they squeezed out some more performance from the graphics system, attracting designers; they had more reliability, attracting school systems).  Often it did not work to their benefit (e.g. every other group of consumer).

(2) "There’s no bug Apple can’t try to fix on their own."  Emphasis on the try.  Linus' Law is over hyped, but it's still largely true.  I've run into my share of bugs they just aren't going to try and fix.  On occasion they keep sweeping them under the rug, pretending they don't exist, by doing things like marking them as fixed in their bug DB even when no action has been taken.  (I'm not going to track down links, but I've seen this several times with their "AirDisk" feature.)  I don't like to call technology companies "evil" like most people do when they make decisions I don't happen to like, but pretending to have fixed a problem when you haven't is some dishonest shit.

(3) "[Apple is] so very confident they can keep providing everything the bulk of their users needs."  Here's the rub: they don't need to provide the bulk of users needs.  They need to provide the bulk of users' needs AND the bulk of geeks' needs.  Those are overlapping but not identical groups.

The geeks drive the market, both because they drive the word of mouth and more importantly because they develop the software that makes devices and systems worthwhile.  You lose them, your ecosystem dries up.  Right now Apple's got them, because there are enough people that have ideas they think are neat they'd like to see on a touchscreen doohickey with a gyro and GPS, and they think it would be fun to have their own an iPhone app.  But as Webb points out, when the Apple environment doesn't meet their needs anymore those people will go away.  And a few years later the rest of consumers will follow them.

The monetary compensation for good programmers is pretty flat.  As a result a huge proportion of them pick their projects based on what they think would be a fun challenge and rewarding final product for them to play with.  If you make things not fun for developers you will lose the good ones.

(4) I just had a conversation today with a guy whose company threw up their hands in exasperation with the Apple SDK and development model and decided the iPhone and iPad weren't worth it for them. He said he sees Apple as the sexy, cool, Giant Evil Company in counterpoint to Microsoft's oafish, stodgy Giant Evil Company. (His words.) He isn't excited about developing for the lesser of two evils.  That's the kind of thing Apple needs to worry about.

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