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Ballmer Pleads For Openness To Compete With Apple 532

Posted by Soulskill
from the outside-looking-in dept.
mjasay writes "At the Mobile World Congress, Steve Ballmer took aim at Apple's closed iPhone ecosystem with an ironic plea for openness: 'Openness is central because it's the foundation of choice.' Ballmer has apparently forgotten his company's own efforts to vertically integrate hardware and software (Zune, XBox), its history of vertically integrating software (tying SharePoint into Office, IE, SQL Server, Active Directory, etc.), as well as years of illegally tying Windows to Internet Explorer that only the US Justice Department could undo. Indeed, Microsoft's effect on the browser market has pushed Mozilla to get involved in a recent European Commission action against the software giant, with Mozilla's Mitchell Baker recently declaring that 'A number of illegal activities were also involved in creating IE's market dominance,' now requiring government intervention to open up the browser market to fair competition. Putting aside Microsoft's own tainted reputation in the field of openness, is Ballmer right? Should Apple open up its iPhone platform to outside competition, both in terms of hardware and software?"
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Ballmer Pleads For Openness To Compete With Apple

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  • Not so much... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpinyNorman (33776) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:24AM (#26940519)

    Of course Apply needs to encourage and allow 3rd party app developers as much as possible (and seems to be doing a decent job given the app store and the app-writing industry it has spawned)...

    However, I thinkit would be a mistake for Apple to "open" the iPhone in other ways - e.g. allow other companies to build them and run the Apple iPhone software on them. Apple's brand is based on a tight vertical integration of hardware and software and tight quality control over the whole, and the iPhone itself benefits (as do all Apple products) from the expensive-but-worth-it exclusivity factor.... It's hard to see Apple being a big winner if Dell and every Asian handset maker were making officially sanctioned/enabled cheap shoddy iPhone clones.

    • by sammyF70 (1154563)
      The way I understood Ballmer's remark was about allowing people who don't own a Mac running OSX (or a Psystar?) to develop for the iPhone. correct me if I'm wrong, but currently the only way to develop commercial applications for the iPhone is to buy a Mac.
      • Re:Not so much... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mabhatter654 (561290) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @04:47PM (#26943409)

        Right because Microsoft works SO hard to make sure developers can write for windows... Visual Studio runs on what OSes again? Windows Mobile tools run on what OSes? Xbox 360 programming is on what systems?

        So Steve, when we getting our official MS Office and Outlook for Linux? We'd really like it if Microsoft was open with it's toys too!

  • by CSHARP123 (904951) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:26AM (#26940533)
    Microsoft did all the things listed out of necessity. That was the innovation for PC industry to move further. Where as Apple is stiffling the innovation. They are the bad guys. They need to open their system. You cannot expect the same from MS because we are dealing with two different kinds of environment and goals. GO Ballmer be the champion for openness and also 3Es (Embarce, Extend and Extingush) PS: Can you please mail me whatever that you are smoking?
    • They did... So? (Score:4, Informative)

      by impaledsunset (1337701) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:37AM (#26940605)

      Well, Microsoft have done all the things listed in the summary, but I fail to see how does that make Ballmer's statement incorrect? Getting something right is still getting something right, whether you do it seldomly or your motives lie inside your pocket. And iPhone is more locked up than anything Microsoft has ever done, so his statement is not even hypocritical.

      • Re:They did... So? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:11AM (#26940825)
        you're kidding, right? MS is only in the position they're in because they can threaten OEMs with a loss if the MS discount if they break exclusivity. Ballmer is just pissed because he can't use the same tactics, and can't make a decent phone either.
      • Re:They did... So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:53AM (#26941093)
        His statement is the definition of hypocritical. They are complaining that Apple is doing what they have done/are still doing now. Take for example the Zune. Who controls the Zune? Who controls the Zune marketplace? Can Microsoft's PlaysForSure partners use the Zune Marketplace? Can Zune customers use Linux or OS X?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I think you'll find that actually Apple has more openness than Windows

      http://webkit.org/ [webkit.org]
      http://developer.apple.com/opensource/index.html [apple.com]

      Apple's iPhone may not be as open as it should be but then the same thing could be said about Xbox 360 or even Windows.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dangitman (862676)

      PS: Can you please mail me whatever that you are smoking?

      I don't think it's legal to send a penis through the mail system.

  • GNU/Balmer (Score:5, Funny)

    by should_be_linear (779431) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:27AM (#26940535)

    Whats next, asking Linux kernel maintainers to drop all these closed source binary blob drivers.

  • Sensationalism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AppleOSuX (1080499) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:28AM (#26940539)

    Right, because this really sounds like pleading!

    FTFA: "I agree that no single company can create all the hardware and software," he said. "Openness is central because it's the foundation of choice." - Ballmer

    • Re:Sensationalism (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bert64 (520050) <bert@NoSPaM.slashdot.firenzee.com> on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:20AM (#26940881) Homepage

      He can talk about openness all he likes, he's in a position to actually do something about it and yet he doesn't...
      Actions speak louder than words.

  • by Daimanta (1140543) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:32AM (#26940563) Journal

    Yeah, open like a venus flytrap

  • by LordZardoz (155141) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:36AM (#26940601)

    Microsoft is not asking for source code here. They just want to be able to publish applications for that platform. In fact, they are not asking for anything more on that platform then they permit for Windows or the Xbox.

    Microsoft might not let you have the raw source code for the Windows OS. But they will happily hand you and SDK and a compiler and let you develop on it. They also do not care if you make boatloads of cash on the platform, as long as your a licensed developer. The same applies to the Xbox, even though the platform is more expensive to get a license for.

    All they are advocating is that Apple let more developers publish software for the iPhone platform.

    END COMMUNICATION

    • by sribe (304414)

      All they are advocating is that Apple let more developers publish software for the iPhone platform.

      WTF? How exactly are they not letting developers publish software for the platform?

      Yes, there have been some hard-to-explain decisions re acceptance to the App store. Vs 15,000 apps, most of them trivial junk, in less than a year...

      • by McDutchie (151611) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:47AM (#26940675) Homepage

        WTF? How exactly are they not letting developers publish software for the platform?

        By not allowing anything that competes with Apple's own software. That means: no better web browser, no better email program, no better calendar, etc.

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          Which is what MS do too, in a less up front way.

        • Um, like this one [arstechnica.com] ?

          Simon

        • by socsoc (1116769) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @12:32PM (#26941371)

          There are other web browsers.

          Privately [apple.com]
          Full Screen Web Browser [apple.com]
          Anon Web Browser [apple.com]

          There are other email programs too...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Not only that, but allowing developers to develop the types of applications they want. Its absurd that you can't develop an email client for the iPhone. Imagine the fallout that would be had from any other set of developers over such a policy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        like say if you couldnt develop an online gaming system for the xbox or a method of delivering additional content?

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      And what about the iPhone development platform doesn't allow you to do that now?

      MS can go and register for a free Apple Developer account and get busy making apps for the iPhone. They can even sell them on the app store.

    • They (Microsoft) will happily charge you for an SDK and a compiler. Last I checked, Visual Studio + an MSDN subscription will cost you in the neighborhood of $1000.

      Apple could get away with the same thing, and that's probably all Microsoft expects.

      • was gonna say... isn't devtools and the iphone SDK 100% free? (though the iphone sdk has some onerous agreement to sign off on - what ahout dev tools? I don't recall anything heavy in their license agreement?)

    • by k1980pc (942645) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:54AM (#26940719)
      Completely agree.
      Apple was open the same way with Xcode and developer tools for Mac platform - free IDE, SDK and no restrictions on nature of applications you can create. May be due to commercial interests, they are being very closed in the iphone ecosystem. Initial reluctance to open up the sdk, arbitrary selections on the apps you can distribute ( Considering Appstore is the only "legal" and future proof way to get apps on to iphone, I consider this very monopolistic*)
      To add to this, Microsoft has licensed active sync to Apple and Google for iphone and android respectively.

      OT,but being a long term apple user, I am currently having an identity crisis. The special hardware, quality of software and openness no longer applies. Does RDF wear-off with age or is it due to Steve's departure? :)

      * I know what monopolistic actually means, thank you!
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Activesync is garbage tho, really drains the battery if you turn it on and isn't a true push solution, it just polls rapidly...
        Apple/Google would be better off licensing from RIM, or developing their own system...

        • by jaseuk (217780)

          The benefit of ActiveSync is that it allows you to pull from Exchange & Outlook. This means the device can talk to whatever Microsoft's offering of the day is without any middleware. In essence ActiveSync is an embedded native Exchange Client.

          If Apple wanted to develop their own, this would entail developing their own means to interface with Exchange and Microsoft Office. It's no doubt far easier to just pay the licensing to Microsoft than develop an inferior cludge over POP3/IMAP.

          Jason.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by DECS (891519)

            Apple did "develop this on their own," it's called MobileMe. There will also be Push Notifications in Snow Leopard. Apple only licensed Exchange ActiveSync to be able to develop its own implementation of Microsoft's proprietary push for Exchange compatibility, which is a feature that runs in addition to Apple's own push software.

            Microsoft did not hand Apple magical software beans that turned the iPhone into a PC running its Win32 Outlook code.

            EAS is not an "embedded Exchange Client," its just a way to send

    • by db32 (862117)
      They will happily SELL YOU the compiler and SDK so you can develop on it. A Visual Studio + all things needed license is over $1200/yr. Apple on the other hand does give you everything and only charges $99 for the membership to sell in their store. You can still develop for their platforms for free though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by UnknowingFool (672806)

      If I read you right, Microsoft wants Apple to follow their model of software development where anyone and develop and publish their own applications. Right now anyone can develop for the iPhone but they have to go through Apple to publish it. Microsoft's model has been done before with Windows Mobile and other phones and hasn't been a success.

      First it wasn't convenient for the consumer as no one had an easy to use App Store like Apple. Second, it wasn't easy to know who you could trust. You could probab

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285)
      In fact, they are not asking for anything more on that platform then they permit for Windows or the Xbox.

      So MS offers a free IDE that lets you develop programs on the MS platform. It offers developer memberships that the average developer can afford that includes hardware discounts and tickets to conferences. I suppose MS uses open standards like vcard and webdav, and come with svn installed.

      I am not saying that what MS wants is unfair, just that what it wants may not be reasonable. MS likes to have

  • you know (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ionix5891 (1228718)

    people moan about Microsoft here on /. alot (no im not new here)

    but imho Apple take the pisstaking to a new level

    they get away with it as the typical response is "they are not a convicted monopolist"

    got help us if apple were in same position as microsoft

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gjyoung (320540)

      I think ever since MS ripped the interface from Apple they're a bit leery of being "open" to it again.

      Besides $99 will get you to developer status on the iPhone, anyone can do it.

      What are they whining about?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bert64 (520050)

      But Apple aren't in the same position...
      You can completely ignore Apple and still have a perfectly functional phone and mp3 player... If you ignore MS completely you end up being at a disadvantage when people send you proprietary files, or when you want to play games etc.

      Apple aren't even the biggest player in the cellphone market, and the market is quite heavily controlled by the carriers too.

  • I'd say no. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:42AM (#26940643) Homepage Journal

    Apple shouldn't open up anything. Openness adds a good third party market in some ways, but it also adds a lot of junk. Apple's filtering benefits the consumer that doesn't want to have a lot of crap in their eco-system. If you want a more open platform, you could use Android, or a Windows Mobile powered phone. SO, there are choices in the marketplace.

    • Exactly... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mario_grgic (515333)

      This is not funny, this is insightful. If Mac were more popular, you would start seeing more crapware and horrible UIs for it as well.

      OS X echo system is healthy exactly because the culture and values of the platform are shared and well known by adherents. If you break past the critical mass, all bets are off.

      This is why Mac needs to remain relatively marginal to be successful :D. It's a fine line and balancing act.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        Yes, but is that a fault of Macs or the fact that companies don't get that we don't want to see "Made by HP" on every customizable screen from the BIOS to a web browser? That we would rather just press CTRL+P and print rather than opening up a dedicated application?

        And if you take a look a the app store, how many apps are completely useless that have made it past Apple's "crapware" screening system? Just about all. How many fart apps are there? Tons. How about worthless "background" apps? How about apps
    • Re:I'd say no. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:58AM (#26941123) Homepage Journal

      Apple's filtering benefits the consumer that doesn't want to have a lot of crap in their eco-system.

      And they're doing such a great job of it too. Fart applications in the double digits, and yet not a single third party music player or email client that supersedes the very limited functionality of the bundled applications.

      Quality control without the quality is simply control.

  • How long did I sleep for? Is it April 1st already?
  • Each executive had his own idea of what openness means and how if Apple adopted its own vision of openness it could be more successful

    Awwww!1!! They just want openness so that Apple can be more successful.

  • by xoundmind (932373) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:52AM (#26940697)
    No.
    So....No.
  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

    Apple is the new Microsoft. Any criticism of Microsoft is at this point misdirection from the real threat.

    Just think of what would happen if the fanboy dream became reality: one cellphone, one mobile platform, and Apple has complete control. The future of mobile computing, of communication, of the Internet everywhere not chained to a desk, would be theirs to direct and constrain.

    And you know they will do it, too, are doing it, because it is in their nature. Software is a means to an end for them, it is just

    • You are kidding right? If Apple wanted to do that they could release OS X PC Hardware Edition and barring any major bugs and driver issues, they could slice MS's marketshare in half. But no, Apple is a luxury computer and device manufacturer, they have been since the day they started selling computers. They don't want to be number one, they want to be number two, but a number two that people have to release drivers for, release programs for, and otherwise tolerate.

      If Apple really wanted what you are sug
    • If Apple becomes the majority platform because it does things better than anyone else, I see nothing wrong with that. Every competitor is free to release competing products. It's not illegal to a have a monopoly. Where Microsoft got in trouble was the tactics they used to hold onto their monopoly, threatening partners, etc. If Apple does that then screw them. Microsoft complaining that Apple is a closed platform is extremely hypocritical.
  • by wild_quinine (998562) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:55AM (#26940725) Homepage

    Putting aside Microsoft's own tainted reputation in the field of openness, is Ballmer right?

    Two points.

    Firstly, this is Slashdot. The chances of anyone putting aside Microsoft's past behaviour in a discussion of that same kind of behaviour, approaches zero. When that discussion was started by Microsoft, it is zero.

    Secondly, even TFA spends more time slagging Microsoft for past behaviour than it does discussing what Ballmer has said. The disingenous suggestion that we're then going to discuss the statement from Ballmer on its own merits, isn't even a facade, it's a joke.

    This isn't news, but it isn't even slashdot's usual one sided attack. This is a one sided attack pretending to be a serious discussion, and it's pretending so badly that it's frankly embarassing.

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @01:10PM (#26941681) Journal

      Even in today's context, what Microsoft is demanding Apple do, Microsoft won't do itself.

      Let's keep it to current setups, to satisfy your demand that it all stay relevant to today:

      When will Microsoft open SharePoint so that you can use Oracle, MySQL, or Postgres? When will Microsoft open up Exchange so that competitors can code their own fully-featured clients for it? Will Microsoft open up their Windows marketing so that OEMs can fearlessly sell --and Market!-- Linux equally, in all the models that a given OEM has?

      You see - one doesn't have to look too far to realize that Ballmer is still, even by today's metrics, speaking from a deep, deep well of hypocrisy.

      /P

  • by macraig (621737) <[mark.a.craig] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:20AM (#26940879)

    ... because my wallet has a court injunction against me setting foot anywhere near an iPhone with a for-sale sign on it!

  • Apple is a publicly traded company and their only real obligation is making a profit for their shareholders. Yes that means facing some inconvenient truths about Apple like making iPods in the third world and being one of the most ungreen companies ever [slashdot.org] (to their credit they seem to be working on this). They also do a fair amount of lock in like closing Darwin (What? No one screaming about this? Yeah that's what I thought). In short, corporately speaking there isn't a difference between Microsoft and Apple.
    • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:49AM (#26941069) Journal

      From the *summary* (for [insert deity]'s sake man, at least read the *summary*) of the 'most ungreen companies ever' link you gave above:

      "Ars Technica points out that Greenpeace's research isn't quite up-to-snuff, and it's also worth noting that Greenpeace admitted to targeting Apple for the publicity in the past."

      ... they wouldn't be able to claim it, unless they had some justification for it. From what I read, Greenpeace don't really care about what you *do* these days, they care about what you *promise* to do in the future, and how much you pay them to be quiet. They're a form of eco-terrorists, and eventually they'll get theirs...

      As for Darwin, it seems pretty open [apple.com] to me.

    • by maztuhblastah (745586) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @02:31PM (#26942275) Journal

      They also do a fair amount of lock in like closing Darwin (What? No one screaming about this? Yeah that's what I thought

      God damn it. Not this again.

      We're not screaming about it because it never happened. I'm serious, the source is still distributed for every release [apple.com]. They delayed the release of the source once during the early part of the x86 transition. A couple of moron bloggers and anti-Apple zealots heard about it and extrapolated that Apple was "closing Darwin". They were full of shit, but that hasn't stopped this myth from living on.

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