Today was one of those days where Steve Jobs gets on a stage and unleashes new Apple products. Being the gadget freak that I am, I usually follow the new announcements through tech blogs or Twitter. Years ago, I used to marvel at some of the stuff they’d put out. But the last couple of years, nights like this leave me with a very uneasy feeling. The hair in the back of my neck are on end. My moral compass tells me something’s wrong. I get that feeling I get when I see someone treated unfairly. Apple has been slowly but steadily turning into an evil company. And people are being misled.
Ever since iTunes was introduced, it’s been very clear that Apple aims to become a media company. It’s been working hard to get a percentage of whatever you pay for the music you listen to (iTunes), the magazines you read (iPad) and the software you use (MacOS Software Store). But more recently, I’ve been spotting a trend where every new introduction seems to be aimed at something far worse. The Apple ecosystem, with all it’s shiny toys, is becoming a honey trap.
Let’s take a look at some of today’s new things.
|Product||Description||Blatant rip-off of||Ulterior motive|
|iCloud||Syncs docs and data between Apple devices||Dropbox, Google Apps||Designed to discourage you from buying non-Apple products, as they won’t have this|
|iMessage||Send messages to other iPhone users for free||WhatsApp, BlackBerry Messenger||Like FaceTime, this does something already possible, but limits it to iOS|
|iTunes Cloud/Match||Put your music in the cloud, limited to iTunes||Vastly inferior alternative to Spotify||Make sure your music stays tied to Apple’s iTunes|
|Reminders||Keep a list of things to do||Remember The Milk, countless others||Go ahead, put your life into this Apple-only to do list manager|
The pattern I’m detecting is that Apple will, instead of embracing new innovations, copy them, and make them native to their platform. And to their platform alone. They usually enhance them in terms of the user interface, but they also make sure they control all protocols and standards. Have you ever user UPnP media sharing? It’s great. Does most of what AirPlay does, and has been around for ages. The same can be said for Dropbox, Remember The Milk, and all the other truly great 3rd party tools and standards that Apple squashed today.
Apple fans will often say “It’s all about the user, Apple cares about user experience”. Well, I fear that’s only partially true. It’s all about the user alright. About boxing them in. About making them invest time, effort an money into an ecosystem that will not let them escape. Apple doesn’t embrace open standards, it’s quite happy with you keeping everything from music to work documents inside their walled garden. Precisely that will keep you from leaving. Because the gate is firmly closed.
(Fellow WordPress enthusiast Coen Jacobs has posted an insteresting response to this post over on his blog)