Daniel Eran Dilger
Random header image... Refresh for more!

The Tech Crunch ‘Apple Backlash’ Myth

Daniel Eran Dilger

According to a variety of pundits, many associated with Michael Arrington’s Tech Crunch, Apple is facing a backlash from users that promises to leave the iPhone and its App Store phenomenon a short-lived ‘flash in the pan.’ They’re wrong, here’s why.
.
Arrington and his Tech Crunch ilk have been regularly venting their collective, petty frustrations with Apple for some time now. A recent example comes from Paul Fisher, a guest blogger who asked, (seriously) “Apple locked us in, but how long will the jail sentence last?”

In the blog posting, Fisher outlines the idea (shared with lots of other elite bloggers) that Apple’s App Store is bad for consumers because “proprietary platforms are counter to consumers’ interests,” and that supposedly, once people wake up to this they’ll all abandon the platform for something better.

Fisher doesn’t come out and say it, but this theory meshes well with the idea that Microsoft or Google Android or Nokia Symbian or Palm Pre WebOS or whatever else will clone the iPhone and bring it to the masses just as Microsoft Windows did to the original Mac, establishing a new “DOS of smartphones.” This gives me the opportunity to destroy both ideas together.

Apple locked us in, but how long will the jail sentence last?
Will Google’s Android Play DOS to Apple’s iPhone?
Will Windows Mobile Play DOS to Apple’s iPhone?

The iTunes lock in myth

Fisher begins by talking about vendor lock in, and predictably gets it all wrong. “It didn’t take a genius to realise that having all your MP3s in an Apple AAC format was locking you in.” Fisher says of iTunes. “Irrational. But people did it.”

Well not exactly. There is no “Apple AAC format.” It’s an MPEG specification anyone can license. What Apple did was offer users the option of moving from MP3, a format encumbered with licensing issues, to AAC (what should have been named MP4 for the benefit of the technically challenged). iTunes did and still does offer to import your music as MP3 or even raw WAV files if you prefer. There is no lock in here.

It’s true that AAC was popularized by Apple’s iTunes, and that the popular migration from MP3 to AAC would likely have never happened without Apple’s prodding. But the stark reality is that, in a world without Apple (which we nearly saw in the late 90s), MP3 was slated for proprietary replacement in a format war between Microsoft’s WMA and Sony’s ATRAC. Both were designed to replace MP3, not coexist with it. If you don’t agree with that, go read CNET articles from 1997-2004.

So pontificating about Apple “binding us” with AAC is not just a slight error in semantics, but evidence of a fantastically ignorant view of the tech world. On top of that, there is nothing that binds iTunes-created AAC files to Apple products; even the Zune and PSP can play them. This is actually key to the fate of the App Store as well, so bear with me.

If you want to talk about the “lock-in” of Apple’s FairPlay DRM (AAC/Protected), remember that an insignificant amount of iTunes users ever bought enough of that to prevent them from looking at alternatives, and that buying from the iTunes Store was both voluntary and had barrier-free options of its own, including buying DRM-free music on CD for import, and that defeating FairPlay was trivial for users to do.

iTunes users faced no more “lock in” than GNU/Linux users who amassed a huge library of audio stored within some obsolete, oddball codec of their own choosing. Trying to equate of those either to the very purposeful vendor lock-in that Microsoft and Sony both hoped to achieve with WMA and ATRAC is simply egregiously wrong.

Rise of the iTunes Killers Myth
Steve Jobs and the iTunes DRM Threat to Microsoft

Apple’s grip is superiority

In trying to portray Apple as evil to its audience, populist Tech Crunch bloggers repeatedly create a false comparison that pits Apple’s real, successful products against an idealized version of what the open/free community is imagined to be capable of producing on one hand, and the vaporware or the selectively presented version of seriously flawed, unsuccessful products of Apple’s corporate rivals on the other.

This allows them to, for example, bewail minor aspects of iPhone features they don’t like while ignoring the perpetually unfinished nature of idealized free/community projects and the far more flawed commercial alternatives they seek to promote as iPhone-Killers.

Is Apple really so far superior to everyone else in the industry that bloggers must artificially handicap it when making comparisons? I guess so.

Even more oddly, the same bloggers who demand that Apple must fight with one arm tied back also insist that the company offers users nothing apart from a thin veneer of fashionable good looks. This is far more ignorant and delusional than just getting the past wrong in their historical revisionism.

Anyone who can lay out an iPhone along with its recent competitors (never mind those previous generations of lame “iPhone-Killers” they presented in 2007 and again in 2008) and say with a straight face that the only advantage Apple has is its ability to make things look nice should be in politics (perhaps AM Radio), not blogging about technology.

Twice the price or half the wit?

“At a simplistic level,” Fisher writes, “Apple get punters to buy their products because on the ‘way in’ it has invested a little more in R&D to make the iphone beautiful or, invested a little more in community marketing to get cool designers blogging about the mac book air etc. On the ‘way out’ (i.e. at Best Buy or Dixons) this allows Apple to charge twice the price.”

Oh really? Apple just spends ‘a little more on R&D’? Have you seen the R&D budgets of Microsoft and Google? They are vastly higher than Apple’s. What Apple does that is unique is work to create products that are usable and desirable. That takes something more than tech R&D, not just some additional R&D.

And the idea that Apple invests in ‘community marketing’ to get airplay for its products is also backwards. It’s Microsoft that sends free boxes of its products to bloggers and pays them to chat up its otherwise unremarkable shipping products and vaporware ideas. Clearly, that doesn’t work to sell products or we’d all have rushed out to buy Vista and the Zune.

Also, the suggestion that Apple sells anything for “twice the price” is not just hysterically fallacious, but also massively ignorant. Apple now essentially owns control of the global RAM market. Anyone can still buy RAM, but nobody else has the motive to drop several billion dollars to acquire contract pricing on par with Apple. That enables Apple to beat anyone on price, even the much larger Microsoft, within the business of RAM-hungry consumer electronics.

As Microsoft readied the original Zune for market, Apple dropped its iPod prices and left Microsoft scrambling to reprice its device to sell at a loss. The same game played out again with the Zune HD, which Apple not only matched in price but undercut with a smaller capacity version. We know Apple is making money selling iPods; Microsoft is losing money at the same price. Apple could probably still outsell its competitors with a steep iPod markup, but Apple isn’t aiming for short term profits as Fisher seems to think. And there’s a reason for that: Steve Jobs.

Why Can’t Microsoft Develop Software for Zune HD?
Microsoft uses adware model to pay for Zune HD apps

The Steve Jobs Pricing Strategy

Anyone old enough to remember the Rubik’s Cube and Dragon’s Lair should recall that Steve Jobs intended the Macintosh to sell like a Cuisinart. Jobs didn’t want to sell the Macintosh as a Porsche, he wanted it to be the Volkswagen. There were two problems: Apple’s conservative management wanted to continue to pull guaranteed revenues out of the older Apple II lineup, and generally feared that the Macintosh’s sales wouldn’t pay for its expensive development, let alone massive investment in new Mac-related advancements.

John Sculley, Apple’s CEO at the time, jacked up the price of the original Mac by 25% to pay for an advertising blitz. Over the next two years, Apple continued pushing its old technology while trying to maintain a very high price on Macs, thinking that nobody could match the product. Management also rejected Jobs’ efforts to invest in turning the Mac into a business machine via advanced networking and server features, as well as attempts to move the Mac to a stronger Unix foundation.

Jobs left Apple to start NeXT, which pundits like to blow off as an unremarkable vendor of $10,000 computers. In reality, NeXT was contractually precluded from competing in the consumer realm by Apple, which left it the market for high end Unix workstations. Relative to high end Macs and workstations from Sun and SGI, NeXT machines were relatively cheap for the hardware they delivered.

When Apple bought NeXT, the old Apple strategy of trying to sell yesterday’s technology at today’s prices well into tomorrow had fully played out: the company was in deep trouble and Microsoft’s generic PC partners had taken over both the high end of workstations and the low end of PCs, using Apple’s own technology. Sure enough, it took a decade for Microsoft to effectively clone the Mac, but it happened.

Had Apple instead followed Jobs’ pricing strategy, there would have been little opportunity for generic PCs to undercut Apple’s prices (since they were paying for the same hardware but expensively outsourcing their software development to Microsoft). Apple subsequently would have been able to eat up the high end at its leisure after becoming the established standard among mainstream users. Apple’s high end greed had cost it both the high end and the low end.

After taking the reins at Apple, Jobs killed off its expensive, high end Macs, discontinued the new PowerExpress line still on the drawing board, and focused the company on the relatively inexpensive new iMac. The new Apple followed up with iBooks and increasingly high-feature, mainstream-priced hardware.

While Apple maintained regular price drops with regular hardware feature enhancements tied to regular software advancements, generic PCs began selling yesterdays’ technology at tomorrow’s prices today. Together with slow progress from Microsoft on the software end, this left generic PC makers to race toward the bottom in pricing, a strategy as equally unsustainable as the old Apple’s high end fixation.

Despite being much larger, both Dell and HP have failed to match Apple’s advancements over the last decade. They were also unable to successfully follow Apple into MP3 players and smartphones. The brightest outlook for generic PC makers today is in selling low-end, low-priced netbooks. That’s not what they want to be doing.

Steve Jobs and 20 Years of Apple Servers

iPod failure predicted early

When Apple launched the iPod, pundits of all stripes stepped up to explain why it wouldn’t succeed. Slashdot famously wrote it off as lame, Microsoft touted the “choice” available from its own stable of generic hardware partners, and Sony initially ignored the MP3 market to sell MiniDisc hardware. Apple kept cutting the iPod’s prices while adding regular new features.

Customers flocked to the iPod, not because it was pretty or because they were brainwashed by Apple’s initially limited advertising budget, or because of astroturfing of blogs by Apple, but because it was a thoughtful product that worked as expected and was easy to use. Windows Enthusiasts have since worked diligently to explain away the iPod’s success, and several have mounted “I hate the iPod and am ready to try the PlaysForSure/Zune/my cell phone!” campaigns, but the public wasn’t really swayed by this. There were also open source MP3 player concepts that nobody wanted.

Eventually, it got to the point where trying to badmouth the iPod became tiresome. It wasn’t like Apple had dominated the entire tech world like Windows had; anyone can bring an MP3 player to market and sell it. Sony tries, Microsoft tries, other makers try. But the market is now pretty mature and unless somebody can offer something much more for much less, nothing is going to change: the iPod dominates, and no other specific vendor is even a significant runner up.

Enter the iPhone

In order to forestal the prospect of an iPod eclipse from occurring, Apple jumped well ahead of where competitors were aiming by delivering the iPhone and eventually turning that work into the iPod touch. Then Apple kept going, delivering the App Store well in advance of rivals and following up with gaming initiatives and corporate integration features that most rivals only talked about.

Apple could have coasted on the old iPods for several more years (as the old Apple did with the Apple IIe), or priced the new iPhone in the stratosphere to accommodate a rich ad budget (like the original Mac), but instead it set the price at or below most other smartphones, then dramatically pushed the price down as volume sales paid off the initial investment.

Whereas the old Apple didn’t even conceptualize a “low cost Mac” until the platform itself had turned six years old, the iPhone’s price was forced down aggressively; it now begins at a very accessible price at the bottom of the market. To reach downward in price, Apple even dropped the first generation’s metal cladding for cheap-o plastic, and then didn’t change its “looks” at all for the third generation. So much for the meme that “Apple only adds value with pretty surface veneer.”

iTunes therefore I am

The most devastating blow to the whole “Apple’s App Store is a flash in the pan” idea is that Apple has been subsidizing third party support better than the supposed leaders in platform developer savvy: Microsoft on one side and open community efforts on the other.

To hear Tech Crunch pundits and their kind speak, you’d think Apple were flogging its developers mercilessly while coders for Microsoft and Android were all basking in the sun at the beach enjoying gift baskets and fancy cocktails loaded with big pieces of fruit, all due to their non-Apple platform affiliation.

The reality is that iPhone developers are cranking out titles because they are enjoying real profits from their efforts. Apple delivered adequate tools reasonable guidelines, and plenty of market opportunities, even if there are some minor snags. If you think selling software for Android or getting ready for Microsoft’s belated Marketplace store is a walk in the park, take a gander at their developer forums. People are pulling their hair out over far more ridiculous platform issues, all the while cognizant that there isn’t nearly as much financial potential on non-iPhone platforms.

You don’t hear about that because Tech Crunch only amplifies the complaints related to the iPhone, and simply ignores the much more significant issues plaguing third party developers on other mobile platforms.

While it’s fashionable to complain about how Apple treats its developers, the bottom line is that Apple’s position with iTunes would put the company ahead even if it were awful. And it isn’t. Developers aren’t just racing to the iPhone platform, they’re begin joined by corporations that are advertising themselves as having an “iPhone app,” everyone from Nationwide and Farmers Insurance to all the banks to Chipotle and Pizza Hut to newspapers to the Gap to Zaggat and the Rachel Maddow Show.

That’s a tremendous amount–and breadth and depth–of non-developer support for Apple’s platform. That’s money from a lot of sources pouring in to match Apple’s initial seeding of iTunes Apps. Nobody ever talked about Palm apps or Windows Mobile apps on TV. Google doesn’t even have a name it consistently uses for Android; its own TV commercials talk about “phones with Google,” an ad message that seems to benefit the iPhone.

The idea that Apple’s massively established iTunes brand–anchored by sales of iPods and iPhones; by third party developers making lots of money; and by studios, labels and indies selling their content–will be swept away by some “non-proprietary” herd of cats is simply moronic. Apple has taken on Microsoft in mobile platforms and won. It took on Sony in hardware and won. It trounced Palm and other mobile makers. It’s ambitiously taking on Nintendo in handheld gaming. It’s planning some sort of tablet expansion.

And yet somehow, the people who couldn’t deliver OpenMoko, who couldn’t keep Android on par with iPhone development, and who haven’t been able to deliver open source gaming consoles and handheld devices of any relevance, and who can’t even deliver a commercially viable desktop operating system, are suddenly going to overwhelm iTunes and take the App Store as their spoils? Are you kidding?

Apple iPhone vs the FIC Neo1973 OpenMoko Linux Smartphone
Google’s Android Market Guarantees Problems for Users
Microsoft sells restrictive new WiMo Marketplace via iPhone ads

Open for business.

Apple certainly wants to attract a captive audience; that’s the goal of every company. Some dominant players tend to stomp out smaller rivals using proprietary vendor lock-in. Sony was notorious for inventing its own memory cards, ports, file formats and so on. But that strategy has lifted somewhat in response to genuine consumer backlash. Today’s PS3 uses regular USB, optical audio, HDMI, and Ethernet ports and even accommodates a standard hard drive mechanism.

Some software-centric companies have discovered that using open, interoperable file formats and protocols can help broaden sales and attract new customers. Great strides toward modern web standards in browsers is a good example of that. Standard email protocols, and image and audio formats are others.

However, Fisher takes this “open is good” idea and translates it to mean that customers really demand openness on an ideological level, another common fallacy among the ivory tower elite of bloggers. That’s not the case at all. People primarily buy things that are in their interest, not things that satisfy an imagined political ideology of how things “ought” to be.

Proprietary platforms counter to consumers’ interests?

Even the populist notion that “proprietary platforms are counter to consumers’ interests” isn’t necessarily true. Sure, people did complain in the 80s that Macs were expensive and later complained that Windows was killing competition. Today people complain that Apple leads iPhone development rather than meekly following behind developers.

But realistically, the best consumer software available, in terms of quality, stability, and refresh cycles, is probably video game console titles. All of which are tied to proprietary platforms walled off with draconian zeal. The public doesn’t seem to be outraged. If consumers really saw it in their interests to support non-proprietary platforms as a rule, they would be using Linux on their PC and learning Android programming for their phone, and playing one of those homebrew game consoles (names escape me). There are cases where it’s best that no vendor exclusively own the playing field, such as web standards or media codecs or common file types or peripheral ports.

Collective ownership of some things makes sense, a fact underscored even by in right-wing leaning USA, which still publicly owns radio spectrum, freeways, National Parks, and other infrastructure necessary for business. But allowing private ownership of rapidly advancing technologies does make sense, as long as competition is allowed to flourish. Apple is doing nothing to prevent rivals from competing against the App Store. So why does Tech Crunch advocate for the punishment of Apple’s success, and pontificate about how horrible the iPhone is when nothing else comes close?

The tech right and left

The answer lies in the absolute weakness of ideological tech liberals, who jump on and attack any forward momentum of their own party in order to rail for ideological perfection. Tech Crunch wants the iPhone to be perfect, so it must attack Apple mercilessly and draw attention to and promote alternatives out of fear Apple will stop impressing them if they don’t. Settle down you dirty hippies, there’s not a problem here.

At the other end of the tech spectrum, there are the tech conservatives who cheer on Microsoft, all the while knowing that the company’s leadership is bankrupt of ideas and generally incompetent. They overlook all sorts of ugly inanity, maintain massively hypocritical and contradictory positions on how things should be, and blindly follow and repeat whatever they’re told in regularly broadcast talking points. They are bitter their administration fell from leadership and come unglued anytime they detect the slightest criticism of its past criminal behavior.

Fortunately, Apple isn’t run by popular elections; instead, it simply outflanks other predators and prey on a more primal level, working to establish a future for its own genes. The only elections Apple concerns itself with are consumers voting with their dollars. And that’s a choice people make in their own interests, largely unswayed by the populist nuttery of extremist advocacy bloggers. Clearly, on the dollar front Apple is winning by a landslide of epic proportions.

  • hmciv

    “Anyone who can lay out an iPhone along with its recent competitors and say with a straight face that the only advantage Apple has is its ability to make things look nice should be in politics (perhaps AM Radio), not blogging about technology.”

    Dan brings up a good point. Apple really needs to give the iPhone an AM radio.

    What?

  • ChuckO

    There’s a great old Woody Allen joke that fit’s perfectly for the tech business pundit’s: “Those that can’t do teach. Those that can’t teach, teach gym.”. If these guy’s are so smart why don’t they have real businesses making something. But at this point it’s obvious no one is going broke producing Apple content for the web. That and another fact that is becoming quickly obvious these days: irrational, unhinged behavior is no longer considered a problem for being taken seriously.

  • ChuckO

    One of the thing’s that helped Wintel win (despite it’s many problem’s) in the business world is that it is sold by MANY oem’s. Business doesn’t like to HAVE to buy anything from a single vendor that can hold it hostage that would have been a problem for Apple and probably will be for the future.

  • ChuckO

    Will someone please explain the appeal of “Tablet’s” to me? The MS Courier is ridiculous! And some people have called it cool!!!!???? I can’t see what Apple is going to do with the form to make it appealing. The iPod is great because it’s small and you can listen to it with earbud’s or with a dock/speaker setup or connect it in your car. What are people going to do with a tablet? Sit on the couch watching movies or better yet ALBUMS (!) with earbuds??? Who want’s to do that!? I think I’ll sit down for a while and watch an album!? I don’t see tablet’s appealing to anyone but nerds and dorks.

  • http://themacadvocate.com TheMacAdvocate

    Excellent article as usual‚ Daniel. You do the Apple community a great service by systematically and rationally dismantling these “pundits” when less patient writers either dismiss or flame them. Kudos to you‚ sir.

  • tundraboy

    I used to read Arrington and Tech Crunch. Then the guy started talking like a self-proclaimed know-all and be-all of tech blogging, as if the tech industry was created to please his idiosyncratic whims. I thought it was just hubris but then he comes out with his own tablet venture and I realized the arrogance was driven by greed. No one should ever trust a pundit who is also trying to dabble in the industry that he is commenting on. Believing everything that comes out of Tech Crunch would be like trusting a news article written by a political reporter who is running for office. Tech Crunch has revealed it has no ethical rudder and anything and everything they say is thus suspect.

  • http://www.jphotog.com leicaman

    Arrington proves over and over again that he’s a brick short of a load when it comes to technology. I can’t believe people still listen to him. But then NPR still interviews Rob Enderle – heard him pontificating just this morning on a subject he knew nothing about – Twitter. Many journalists talk about checking sources, but they are so self-referential in the tech world that it’s almost impossible to get a straight story from anyone. There’s always an underlying agenda (with emphasis on lying).

  • chefmitch

    Funny timing. Just last week I killed my TechCrunch RSS feed.

    I couldn’t take the level of (unjustified) Apple hate.

    As for the comment about not trusting Tech Crunch because they are making a tablet: I trust people who have exhibited they are worthy of being trusted – bringing a product to market doesn’t change that and second – I think the Crunch Tablet looks very cool.

  • cloudbase9

    Always great to read Dilger’s sober analysis. One minor issue – Apple has not cornered the RAM market, but might be said to have big influence on the Flash RAM market.

  • enzos

    >>you’d think Apple were flogging its developers mercilessly while coders for Microsoft and Android were all basking in the sun at the beach enjoying gift baskets and fancy cocktails loaded with big pieces of fruit, all due to their non-Apple platform affiliation..

    Rising from ridicule into the realm of classical satire here, Dan.. and we love it! (Ever tried your hand at heroic couplets?)
    [typo: of all stripeS]

  • JohnWatkins

    Nice article.
    Bashing of Apple for imagined transgressions has become so commonplace and tiresome. Slashdot is full of comments about how, “Apple is *way* more evil than Microsoft *ever* was.” “Apple is far less *open* and *friendly to* standards, developers, users, etc.” Insert your favored meme here. It leaves me scratching my head. Are they living on the same planet I am?
    Where does it come from? Ignorance of facts? Ignorance of reality? Ignorance of the need for a business plan? Short memories? Magical thinking? Yes to all of these and many more I’m sure.
    I shake my head in wonder.

  • perpetuitas

    Ah-hah!

    This explains all the rancor over at TechCrunch:
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/09/24/microsoft-ballmer-interview-exclusive-techcrunch-bing-mobile-azur/#comment-3005087

    LOL, no, ROFLOL …

    This is so obvious — TC had to appease the monkey so he would give them an “exclusive” interview expounding all the grand wisdom to the TC readers.

    This is great. Now, let’s call TC out on this publicly.

  • tundraboy

    @chefmitch

    “As for the comment about not trusting Tech Crunch because they are making a tablet: I trust people who have exhibited they are worthy of being trusted – bringing a product to market doesn’t change that and second – I think the Crunch Tablet looks very cool.”

    Walter Cronkite once replied in an interview that even though he has retired from the broadcast booth, he never once considered running for office or taking on any other political advocacy job, paid or otherwise, because that puts his whole career as a journalist under an ethical cloud. Every editorial opinion he has ever expressed, especially the one where he declared the Vietnam War a big mistake, would then be re-examined under the “so-that’s-the-ax-he-was-grinding” lens.

    Sadly, in this day and age, that kind of integrity is neither present, demanded, or appreciated. Scrupulous, principled honesty is somehow thought of as either quaintly anachronistic or worse, stupid. The very fact that Arrington goes into the tablet business is enough for me to not trust his tech punditry anymore. I’m not saying everything he says will be slanted or untrue, just that his motives and ergo, editorial direction is now suspect. And if he doesn’t see the Hummer-sized conflict of interest there, he truly has no ethical clue at all.

  • gus2000

    …and that’s why I love reading RDM. It’s fun to watch the cockroaches skatter when Daniel shines a big bright light into the darkest corners of Tech “Journalism”.

  • mrfezzywig

    Dan there’s a typo in your column.

    “While it’s fashionable to complain about how Apple treats its developers, the bottom line is that Apple’s position with iTunes would put the company ahead even if it were awful. And it isn’t. Developers aren’t just racing to the iPhone platform, they’re begin joined by corporations that are advertising themselves as having an “iPhone app,” everyone from Nationwide and Farmers Insurance to all the banks to Chipotle and Pizza Hut to newspapers to the Gap to Zaggat and the Rachel Maddow Show.”

    I believe you meant “being” not “begin”

    Feel free to delete this comment. :)

  • Blad_Rnr

    I generally agree with your article, as usual. But I disagree that…”Jobs left Apple to start NeXT.” “Jobs was sacked at Apple and then started NeXT,” would be a better phrase.

    And I think trying to place conservatives into the Windows camp is totally ridiculous. I have used a Mac since 1987 and I am a conservative libertarian. Don’t mix me in with either the Windows or the liberal crowds.

    Great article otherwise.

  • walter

    Ha… Is this article a reference to me?

    I should point out that the king of AM radio regularly discusses his fancy for Apple products.

  • gus2000

    “Hey there’s a typo” should be the first comment on every RDM article, or at least right after “First!” and “Will it blend?” If you found only one typo, you weren’t reading closely enough. I’ve begged Daniel to send me all his articles first for prior approval, but for some reason he doesn’t want an editorial board hovering over his blog. Weird!

    Fortunately, I’m not here for the grammar.

    Blad, the labels of liberal/conservative have meaning outside their obvious political camps. I think “conservative” correctly describes the crowd that is too scared to leave Microsoft for anything new or different; the proponents of All Things Free and Open are certainly far in left field.

  • pa

    @ChuckO,

    “One of the thing’s that helped Wintel win (despite it’s many problem’s) in the business world is that it is sold by MANY oem’s. Business doesn’t like to HAVE to buy anything from a single vendor that can hold it hostage that would have been a problem for Apple and probably will be for the future.”

    Then why do they standardize on Widows servers, Active Direcory, Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, etc.?

  • pa

    @ChuckO,

    I don’t know about others, but I would like a tablet computer because I hate the physical keyboard. The iPhone has gotten me spoiled. It’s keyboard is much more versatile, supports many languages, and gets out of the way when it’s not needed. (It is however too small for me to replace a computer) I can hold a tablet PC in my hand much more comfortably at the distance I need. It is more portable, will be much lighter because hopefully it will not contain a CD/DVD player or a hard drive. And I prefer a touch screen to a trackpad for navigation because it is much more intuitive. Currently I have a desktop and a notebook and I can’t wait to replace the notebook with a tablet. So far, there haven’t been any tablets running Mac OS X. An Apple tablet would be ideal for use with iTunes. I spend a lot of time “taking” courses at iTunes U. The iPhone is too small and my 13″ notebook is to awkward to use for that use.

  • roz

    I think Arrington is leading the PR war to sully Apple so that there is more room for market acceptance of his CrunchPad. I can understand why someone might be bothered by Apple delaying the acceptance of Google Voice but it does not warrant the level of invective that Arrington is directing at Apple – it simply is not justified. And then you have this chorus of frustrated Windows fans who will jump on any criticism of Apple. It’s ridiculous.

    You have these waves of people who freak out about stuff – the iPhone’s sealed battery for example, not allowing third party apps, now delaying gVoice. Its all a bunch of hype.

    Personally, I think you get this when you dominate a space. When companies can’t compete they have to come up with something. So walk into Sprint and they will trash the iPhone for not having back ground apps. And Verizon for something else. Blah, blah, blah. I think Apple would be better off if they were more carrier agnostic. Put out an iPhone for every carrier and be done with it. Sell it through a wide channel. Then you would eliminated this how rung of people wanting to trash the iPhone. You would also reduce the warchest of carrier incentives to create competition for the iPhone. If Sprint and Verizon could carry iPhone, I doubt they would be discounting Pre’s and BB so much. If Tmobile would carry iPhone we would hear a lot less about how great the gPhones are.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~daguy daGUY

    @ChuckO: “What are people going to do with a tablet? Sit on the couch watching movies or better yet ALBUMS (!) with earbuds??? Who want’s to do that!? I think I’ll sit down for a while and watch an album!? I don’t see tablet’s appealing to anyone but nerds and dorks.”

    Be careful there…a lot of technology seems useless and/or pointless until it begins evolving and finds its way into our daily lives. People didn’t initially see the utility and value of the computer itself, either…

    “What are people going to do with a computer? Sit at a desk looking at a bunch of dots on a screen? Who wants to do that!?”

  • stefn

    The context for all the FUD is the historical stream of “semiconscious anti-rationalism” in American culture, documented by Susan Jacoby and, earler, Richard Hofstadter. Our best leaders, Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR, relished words and facts and story and thought. The worst have no allegiance to truth, only to winning and influence and power. And of course money.

  • deardeveloper

    @gus2000

    “Blad, the labels of liberal/conservative have meaning outside their obvious political camps. I think “conservative” correctly describes the crowd that is too scared to leave Microsoft for anything new or different; the proponents of All Things Free and Open are certainly far in left field.”

    The “word” conservative might work in the contexts that you put it in, but it doesn’t exactly parallel to the definition of a political conservative. For it to do so would assume that political conservativism is against progress. It is not. I think it’s generally agreed that liberalism defines progress as something totally different than conservatism does.

    Now, I personally don’t think a sprint to communism is much for progress myself.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    In trying to portray Apple as evil to its audience, populist Tech Crunch bloggers repeatedly create a false comparison that pits Apple’s real, successful products against an idealized version of what the open/free community is imagined to be capable of producing on one hand, and the vaporware or the selectively presented version of seriously flawed, unsuccessful products of Apple’s corporate rivals on the other.

    TechCrunch needs to be crunched. The articles stink.

    But they are right – open platforms have huge advantages. In the IPhone/ITouch Apple has created an incredible open platform. Yes, it’s an open platform. Anyone can download the dev kit at no cost, and start programming immediately, unlike Nintendo or Sony, where they “vet” programmers before letting them “buy” the dev kit at an inflated price. And the limits that Apple has placed on the store, are minimal. OK, so they won’t allow an application that automatically downloads pictures from PAGE3.COM, because the United States is somewhat backward, and believes that naked tits are dangerous (but guns aren’t).

    As to Linux not producing a competitive operating system, on this point you are wrong. It can and does. The only problem is that Microsoft forces the Computer manufacturers to use Windows, so projects like Moon OS don’t have a chance of being pre-installed, even though they are far better than Windows.

  • Pingback: Daily Digest for September 26th @ The Trojan Pony()

  • http://www.isights.org/ whmlco

    Hatter, he didn’t say competitive, he said “commercially viable desktop operating system.” Big, big difference.

    And they haven’t. Companies have tried selling Linux destops into the consumer marketplace, and the consumers just bring them back. Why? Because they don’t run Word and Excel and Photoshop, and they don’t run all of the other programs and games they already have.

    It’s a “me too” windows and menus and mouse product that from the outside seems to offer few advantages while harboring severe disadvantages.

    Linux has two thing going for it: it’s free and it’s open. Daniel just trash “open” above. Consumer’s don’t care. And free isn’t it worth it when their general-purpose computer can’t run Word and Excel and Photoshop and common games.

    The ONLY success Linux has had in the general-purpose computer market lies in powering the cheapest of netbooks, and only then by reducing consumer expectations to the point where they consider it to be an oversized Blackberry, good for email and browsing a few web sites.

    Like Apple’s iPhone competitors, Linux lacks an ecosystem of harware people and software developers and a consumer marketplace where ordinary people can buy what they want and need.

  • enzos

    I agree with Pa. There’s a big market for a well-executed tablet. I have a desktop at home and one at work. I can’t justify a third computer, a laptop.. but a tablet would fill the gap nicely. If it runs full-blown Mac applications at any rate.

  • http://www.cyclelogicpress.com Neil Anderson

    “Business doesn’t like to HAVE to buy anything from a single vendor that can hold it hostage…”

    You mean like Microsoft?

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    Hatter, he didn’t say competitive, he said “commercially viable desktop operating system.” Big, big difference.

    How?

    And they haven’t. Companies have tried selling Linux destops into the consumer marketplace, and the consumers just bring them back. Why? Because they don’t run Word and Excel and Photoshop, and they don’t run all of the other programs and games they already have.

    Really? I’d love to see your data on this. Dell say that their return rates on Linux laptops are no higher than their return rates on Windows laptops.

    It’s a “me too” windows and menus and mouse product that from the outside seems to offer few advantages while harboring severe disadvantages.

    Like Windows is a clone of Mac OS? Or doesn’t that count?

    Linux has two thing going for it: it’s free and it’s open. Daniel just trash “open” above. Consumer’s don’t care. And free isn’t it worth it when their general-purpose computer can’t run Word and Excel and Photoshop and common games.

    Actually Daniel didn’t trash open. He pointed out how important Open is to Apple. As to running Word, do you know anyone who uses it who PAID for it? I don’t. Everyone pirates it. I point them to Open Office when I can. It’s not likely that a home user is going to get caught, but I don’t believe in theft.

    The ONLY success Linux has had in the general-purpose computer market lies in powering the cheapest of netbooks, and only then by reducing consumer expectations to the point where they consider it to be an oversized Blackberry, good for email and browsing a few web sites.

    Actually I know a lot of people who are using it, since they’d gotten so pissed off at Windows.

    Like Apple’s iPhone competitors, Linux lacks an ecosystem of hardware people and software developers and a consumer marketplace where ordinary people can buy what they want and need.

    Why would they buy it, when it’s free? And Linux has better hardware support than any other operating system. Unlike with Windows you can just plug things in and have them work, without worrying about chasing after drivers. Linux and OSX are both pretty good at that sort of thing, Windows absolutely stinks.

  • John E

    TechCrunch’s attitude towards Apple is a pose. partly it is a reaction to Apple’s arrogance and secrecy which many, naturally enough, do not like. mainly though it lets them carve out a niche in the blogsphere, get attention, and pretend to be intellectually superior, or hip, whatever gets them off. and like so much of the blogsphere, facts don’t really matter, BS is more than good enough for their purposes.

    that said, the post RDM linked to isn’t all BS. it raises the good and honest question of whether the current huge success of the App Store compared to the competition is just a temporary transition event, Apple benefitting now by (just) being the first. after all, they note, after a few years the competition will all finally get their acts together and provide an equal range of comparable apps and stores and smart hardware too. given the ongoing balkanization of the smartphone OS’s, tho, i don’t know how they see any one platform emerging as the ‘open’ standard that will supplant Apple as the leader (of course Ballmer thinks it will be WinMobile!).

    but they are missing the bigger picture. whether you call it “ecosystem” or “convergence,” what consumers are looking for is drop-dead easy integration of all the digital aspects of their life into simple to use products that work together without tech fiddling by the consumer – because most can’t fiddle good.

    but for the foreseeable future, pulling that off requires a proprietary system, at least as the skeleton. getting all the many dozens of major parts and services to work together smoothly is just too complicated otherwise for a consumer – you’d have to be a techie.

    Apple is not the only company working at this. telcos are bundling services into fairly comprehensive digital packages, like AT&T’s U-Verse. hardware makers keep trying to link all their AV equipment into your home LAN with a range of services, like Sony’s Bravia features. but none can provide both first class hardware and first class software for the whole thing, like Apple is within reach of achieving.

    in this light, the iPhone’s apps are customized extensions of your own personal Apple ecosystem that link anyplace to whatever you need or are in to. Apple provides the skeleton, and third party app developers provide the specialized body parts you can add to it. and it’s simple to do.

    really, only Microsoft has the platform now that might match this. but beyond the fact the hardware is missing, MS has proved by now they simply cannot pull it all together into a simple cohesive package. their fatal flaw is being stuck with two different 1990’s OS’s – Win CE/Mobile and NT/Windows – they cannot truly integrate. plus their greed keeps getting in the way.

    This also explains Google’s Android computer OS plans. that is the piece they are missing to create a cloud version of it. there still has to be at least one conventional computer in any ecosystem setup to tie all its tech together. its the central nervous system the skeleton also needs.

    (and the telcos provide the arteries for info flow? warning: runaway metaphor!)

    anyhoo, point is, if Apple keeps innovating and expanding its ecosystem like this, the impact of the App store is not temporary, and no matter how many apps they finally have, the competition will not be able to match its significance.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    TechCrunch’s attitude towards Apple is a pose. partly it is a reaction to Apple’s arrogance and secrecy which many, naturally enough, do not like. mainly though it lets them carve out a niche in the blogsphere, get attention, and pretend to be intellectually superior, or hip, whatever gets them off. and like so much of the blogsphere, facts don’t really matter, BS is more than good enough for their purposes.

    Apple isn’t arrogant. The definition of Arrogant is:
    making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud
    Apple doesn’t match that description. The only one that comes close is pride, and Apple has a right to be proud of the product that they make.
    Secrecy is another issue. Apple has always preferred to deliver surprises, and it has been a very effective way for them to introduce new product. It has also been an effective way for Apple to avoid the accusations of vaporware that Microsoft has to deal with all the time.

    that said, the post RDM linked to isn’t all BS. it raises the good and honest question of whether the current huge success of the App Store compared to the competition is just a temporary transition event, Apple benefitting now by (just) being the first. after all, they note, after a few years the competition will all finally get their acts together and provide an equal range of comparable apps and stores and smart hardware too. given the ongoing balkanization of the smartphone OS’s, tho, i don’t know how they see any one platform emerging as the ‘open’ standard that will supplant Apple as the leader (of course Ballmer thinks it will be WinMobile!).

    Apple’s app store wasn’t the first. It is however the best at present, and I don’t think that Microsloth will be able to match it. Microsloth is pretty incompetent when it comes to customer satisfaction.

    but they are missing the bigger picture. whether you call it “ecosystem” or “convergence,” what consumers are looking for is drop-dead easy integration of all the digital aspects of their life into simple to use products that work together without tech fiddling by the consumer – because most can’t fiddle good.

    Actually most of the non-geeks I know are quite capable of “fiddling” when they have too, as long as they have directions. What they don’t have is time, and that’s why they like someone like Apple to make it easy for them, because they can be more productive.

    but for the foreseeable future, pulling that off requires a proprietary system, at least as the skeleton. getting all the many dozens of major parts and services to work together smoothly is just too complicated otherwise for a consumer – you’d have to be a techie.

    No, it doesn’t. The first software stores were put together by the Free Software communities, check out what Ubuntu, Fedora and Mandriva offer.

    Apple is not the only company working at this. telcos are bundling services into fairly comprehensive digital packages, like AT&T’s U-Verse. hardware makers keep trying to link all their AV equipment into your home LAN with a range of services, like Sony’s Bravia features. but none can provide both first class hardware and first class software for the whole thing, like Apple is within reach of achieving.

    The Telcos? Wow. They are even less competent at customer satisfaction than Microsloth is.

    in this light, the iPhone’s apps are customized extensions of your own personal Apple ecosystem that link anyplace to whatever you need or are in to. Apple provides the skeleton, and third party app developers provide the specialized body parts you can add to it. and it’s simple to do.

    really, only Microsoft has the platform now that might match this. but beyond the fact the hardware is missing, MS has proved by now they simply cannot pull it all together into a simple cohesive package. their fatal flaw is being stuck with two different 1990’s OS’s – Win CE/Mobile and NT/Windows – they cannot truly integrate. plus their greed keeps getting in the way.

    Pardon, but Microsloth is so far behind on this, that they’ll never catch up. The Free Software community on the other hand, is actually far ahead of Apple.

    This also explains Google’s Android computer OS plans. that is the piece they are missing to create a cloud version of it. there still has to be at least one conventional computer in any ecosystem setup to tie all its tech together. its the central nervous system the skeleton also needs.

    Heh. Tell Apple and RIM that. At present both provide phones that DON”T require a PC to sync to.

    (and the telcos provide the arteries for info flow? warning: runaway metaphor!)

    Ah, but the good phones have 802.11G or better, and don’t need a phone connection for most functions (install Skype, and you don’t need a phone connection for anything).

    anyhoo, point is, if Apple keeps innovating and expanding its ecosystem like this, the impact of the App store is not temporary, and no matter how many apps they finally have, the competition will not be able to match its significance.

    Let’s face it. Apple’s hold on the “App Store” isn’t permanent. By the nature of the beast, it can’t be (read “The Innovators Dilemma). The question is, what will Apple come up with to replace the App Store when the time has come to retire it?

  • ChuckO

    pa,
    Yes Windows (OS,Server OS, Exchange) are the same but you can buy the hardware from multiple vendors therefore you can shop between vendors. It’s my understanding that’s important to “the enterprise”.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    ChuckO { 09.27.09 at 8:53 pm }

    pa,

    Yes Windows (OS,Server OS, Exchange) are the same but you can buy the hardware from multiple vendors therefore you can shop between vendors. It’s my understanding that’s important to “the enterprise”.

    Consider the Linux/BD/Solaris distributions, there’s a lot of different ones, including some really neat specialized ones. There are 301 distributions listed on Distrowatch. That’s a lot of choice, which will run on damned near any hardware you through at it, even stuff like MIPS or Itanic.

    The reason they “like” Windows because it can be used on alternative hardware, is because they have to get three quotes before they can place an order. Apple could do the same thing, all it would take is the local Apple Store and two Apple Distributors quoting, and in fact this is probably happening in some cases, Apple’s do get used in the Enterprise far more than most people realize.

  • alicorne

    “Scratch a revolutionary and you’ll find a would be aristocrat”.

    Let’s not confuse jockeying for power with how people live their lives (effectively).

  • stefn

    “Like a pioneering blogger, Safire years ago started grabbing bits of information and wrapping them in the tightest partisan, what-if spin possible,” Eric Boehlert wrote in the Web site Salon in 2004. “When the accusation unraveled, he’d simply ignore the thud of his charges hitting the floor.”

    Maybe we need a Safire Nattering Nabob of Negativism Award for Tech Writers.

  • Pingback: TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld insists Google wrote the iPhone — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • Pingback: Strand Consult: Denmark’s illegitimate iPhone-angry pundit-nutter — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()