Nik over at TechCrunch wrote a post yesterday where he wondered why people who love open systems and open source are willing to wait in line for an iPhone 3G which is one of the most closed systems ever. And why they’re willing to use software from the Apple store, a store you can’t get into if Apple doesn’t want you there. These are good questions.
So far I have no interest in iPhone apps, and I haven’t bought an iPhone 3G, though I have upgraded to iPhone 2.0. I never unbricked my phone, and I still think of iPhone apps as web apps, just like Steve told me to in the early days when I wanted an API and an SDK. I got in the habit of thinking of it as a phone and nothing more.
My iPhone’s camera is broken. The iPod never worked (I hate earbuds and none of my headphones fit their non-standard jack and buying an adapter would be ridiculous for me, I’d have to buy 5 cause I lose little chotchkas like those adapters.) It played videos for the first few weeks, then no matter what I did iTunes refused to copy videos on to the phone. Paying the price for Apple’s paranoia that says the only way to move stuff back and forth to the iPhone is through their software. I could write my own scripts, and would be happy to. The damned thing should just look like a disk drive when you plug it into a Mac. (I know I know there are ways to trick it into being that, but I have no patience.)
The address book still works, and the phone, and that’s about all that I care about. I carry a huge PowerMac with me when I travel, but I’d consider replacing it. Developers tell me that soon, in an upcoming software update the OPML Editor, which I depend on for all my work, will break unless we get cracking on it. That’s so Apple. As a developer you have to keep spending money just to stay in place.
Somehow for some reason buying into the Apple culture has been something I’ve resisted, where some people embrace. I won’t wait in a line, or oooh and ahhh at a Stevenote. I just don’t like the smarmy marketing attitude of Apple, he’s kind of like the teacher’s pet in music class, pretending that he’s a connoisseur — I see flaws and bugs everywhere. Fix the bugs and STFU about how great the product is. Sorry. I want to use Apple’s products the same way I use a Canon camera, as a product I respect, but if they ever start screwing around the way Apple does, I’d switch to a Nikon or whatever. Problem is there is no Nikon or whatever in PCs and iPods. All the other products suck. Hugely. Apple’s just suck a bit less. Not a huge accomplishment for an industry, imho.
Anyway, over the years I’ve got to watch platforms that work and ones that don’t. The ones that work usually only work for a short while, then something happens that screws it up.
In order for a platform to work, the owner of the platform has to be a provider; the developers compete to create wonders for the platform. After all these years the platform as Chinese household model still seems the right one to me. Developers make babies. The husband (the vendor) provides the house, food, and pays the utility bills. In Steve Jobs’s Apple, it’s all screwy. The vendor makes the babies and the developers make little cupcakes they can sell to people who come to admire the babies. A lot of people love the babies, so in theory it’s possible to make good money selling cupcakes.
But starting and running a cupcake stand isn’t really what gets most developers up in the morning.
All I can say is that Nik is right, it’s ridiculous, and people who believe in open systems who bet heavy on such a closed system are going to learn again why they love open systems.
BTW, this is why I have a blog, so I can write pieces like this. I’m not running for office. Don’t vote for me! 🙂