As a long time member of the WordPress community, I go to a lot of WP meetups, WordCamps and other WordPress-related gatherings. Often, people will pull out their laptops and start hacking away together. It’s a great community. What strikes me as somewhat odd however, is that the majority of those laptops are usually MacBooks. Now of course, everybody is completely welcome to use whatever type of computer they prefer, but to me there’s something strange about this situation. A WordPress developer with a Mac is a little like a church-going atheist.
As most of you are probably aware, WordPress is an open source project. Its software is written by a community of people, and not owned by a single company, like most other programs are. The GPL license protects the rights and freedoms of its end users. In many ways, open source is the software development equivalent of a hippie commune. At its heart lie basic values like freedom, collaboration, sharing and openness. I love WordPress not for the software, but primarily for its ideology.
Apple on the other hand has moved from being a quirky little five-percent-market-share computing company they were fifteen years ago to a humongous media empire. Ironically, it’s now employing all the tactics that its followers mocked Microsoft for ten years ago. And it’s even better at them too. Apple insists on pushing its own standards, keeping them closed and protecting them vigorously. “Evil” business practices like “vendor lock-in” and “walled gardens” have been very kind to Apple and its shareholders. It’s probably the computing equivalent of a – gather greedy – dictatorship.
The iThemes Store?
Imagine WordPress as an Apple product. Would you be happy to pay a developer fee to have your themes in the official, monopolist iThemes store, where 30% of all revenue goes straight to Apple? If your themes are even accepted that is. Better make sure they don’t integrate too closely with non-Apple products. No links to Amazon, no pulling in Spotify playlists? Limitations like that are becoming very common in the Apple eco-system.
Imagine having just one option for hosting, Apple’s own iPress service, part of iCloud. The only source for plugins would be the iPlugins store of course. And once you have your iWordPress set up, you’d probably not be allowed to blog about politics, sex, voice controversial opinions about other subjects, or criticise Apple. Apple’s way of doing things is fundamentally different from WordPress’s. In my opinion, the ideologies are fundamentally incompatible.
The honey in the trap
I’m fully aware that Apple creates some of the best computers and devices out there, and that those are a pleasure to use. If that is your primary concern, don’t let this little rant convince you otherwise. But there are alternatives that are more “philosophically compatible” with WordPress. Microsoft has been warming up to open source software and open standards, and has embraced innovation with things like Kinect and Windows Phone. But the logical choice would probably be Linux. I’ve switched to Ubuntu for everything but Photoshop, and it’s been a delight. It benefits from the same things that make WordPress great, and it’s great for doing WordPress.