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FSF Response To Steve Jobs's Letter 572

Posted by kdawson
from the pot-meet-kettle dept.
boilednut writes "Steve Jobs's recent missive on the deficiencies of Adobe's Flash is still reverberating around the Internet. In this editorial, John Sullivan of the Free Software Foundation responds, arguing that Apple is presenting users with a false choice between Adobe's proprietary software and Apple's walled garden."
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FSF Response To Steve Jobs's Letter

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  • And Theora? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:22PM (#32060306) Journal

    I'd be more interested in a response from Xiph on Job's email concerning Theora.

    • Re:And Theora? (Score:5, Informative)

      by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:27PM (#32060336)

      I'd be more interested in a response from Xiph on Job's email concerning Theora.

      They have a comment from him here [slashdot.org].

    • Re:And Theora? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @02:49AM (#32061994)

      The response has been clear, and it's the same response as free software people have given everywhere: "show us your patents". Even the current US legal system is pretty clear about this. If you are aware that your patent is being infringed, you have a duty to come forward to tell the person who is doing that. If you don't; when it comes to damages it is completely obvious that you didn't do your best to minimise the damage caused to yourself and you don't deserve to be paid off.

      What Apple and Microsoft are doing is either a) allowing people to continue doing "damage" by using a patent they don't have the right to when Apple or Microsoft could stop that by clearly stating which patent it is or more likely, b) spreading FUD. In case a) since MS and Apple are the only ones who know what the patents are, they should be liable for the continued "damage" from the use of patents from the point where they decided to speak about the patents without stating which ones.

      Someone should take this up in a court e.g. in Germany where some parts of the legal system still seem to function.

  • by walshy007 (906710)

    Letting the users decide is the best option, what's that? the users can't decide because of apple, of course they can, they aren't forced to buy the product. Their own stupid fault if they buy something so locked down and don't like it.

    As far as stallman is concerned, it is still another choice, just one that doesn't make sense from the freedom perspective.

    • by cupantae (1304123) <maroneill@gmailPARIS.com minus city> on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:51PM (#32060478)

      What's that supposed to mean? Apple's approach conflicts with the FSF's philosophy, so they're telling people why. Users are obviously still let decide; advising people one way or the other doesn't change that.

      And it's not like the FSF is meddling in other people's business, because the question of what standards are commonly supported/used is relevant to everyone who wants to use a computer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        My problem is with how the FSF is implying that Jobs is a hypocrite. It seems that they're more interested in making his thoughts into something that they're not than they are about promoting free software. I like the idea of free software, but the FSF is coming across as your typical zealot, trying to twist people's words to better suit their own agenda. Maybe it's not intentional and they're simply incapable of comprehending that another person's values may be just as valid as their own, even if they conf

        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday May 02, 2010 @10:12AM (#32063596) Homepage Journal

          My problem is with how the FSF is implying that Jobs is a hypocrite.

          Jobs is clearly a hypocrite. [hyperlogos.org] (Link to opinion piece on my website, no ads)

          It seems that they're more interested in making his thoughts into something that they're not than they are about promoting free software.

          It seems to me like they're talking about what his thoughts mean. Jobs is trying to anticompetitively support H.264.

          Either way, I'm disappointed that Ars ran with this article rather than going with something less bias.

          You must be new [t]here.

        • by osgeek (239988) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @11:03AM (#32063948) Homepage Journal

          Hypocrisy is putting forth a set of philosophical arguments against Flash while performing the exact same business practices that he's decrying.

          Adobe would like to control the user experience through its proprietary application framework (Flash). Apple would like to control the user experience through locked down firmware and their App store.

          Look, I have two iPhones. I love the iPhone. It is mostly what it is because Apple is in control and makes good design decisions. I have friends with Android phones and they're a bit of a mess IMHO. You can definitely see where the lack of a good strong single voice in the design has kept the current implementations from matching the iPhone experience.

          That said, Jobs is being a hypocrite. He's playing a marketing game to give fan boys (ahem... you?) ammo in the Adobe battle for control over the Interwebs. Fair enough. I hope he wins it since I think that Flash sucks. That doesn't mean that I don't think he's being a hypocrite, though.

          Don't let your admiration of Apple or its products cloud your ability to be objective about arguments put before you.

        • by burris (122191) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @11:24AM (#32064080)

          Steve said "We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers."

          Yet, that is the same situation he imposes on all iDevelopers. That, my friend, is hypocrisy.

      • by Cronock (1709244) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @05:04AM (#32062402)

        I see a major misunderstanding here between Free(as in speach), free(as in beer), and "open". Apple is promoting "Open". They are still a for-profit company selling closed devices to access an "open" system. They have no shame here, nor should they.

        They make a device to access the web, one non-standard plugin doesn't make the grade for being usable on their hardware so it's not supported. Their options are: 1. Request Adobe fixes their product for mobile devices (10.1, sure we will see with Android being the guinea pig) 2. Apple makes their own workaround (good, but this hack job will probably not good enough or legal). 3. Exclude it as other, more open, standards can fill the void. Apple chose #3. Sorry Adobe, its just business.

        Other companies are captalizing on this, as they should be! They are betting on farmville addicts choosing their (possibly inferior) platform over Apple's because of flash support, so they get some sales from people that wouldn't have chosen them without it.

        Apple has no problem with that, they just want the people that bought their product having a better overall experience, and then buying v2.0 and v3.0, and also telling their friends. We long-time mac users know what it's like to not have everything, but the stuff we do have actually works

        • by LaRainette (1739938) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @08:50AM (#32063138)
          WTF are you talking about ? How is iPhone OS an "open" platform as opposed to any of its competitors ? I see how you could try to (dishonestly) convince us that Apple's software is more Open than adobe : that's arguable but why not. What I cannot see is how iPhone OS is an open platform, when you compare it to other similar platform (i.e. mobile OSs) The iPhone OS locks you into the Appstore, which is itself censored by Apple. How is that open ? Symbian, Android, WebOS (RIP), MeeGo, Blackberry OS are all more Open. (Not to mention Symbian and Android are Open-source but that another debate) Jobs is just using the fact that Adobe's software (which is rather closed) doesn't work on the iPhone (which is also a very closed system) to attack adobe but in fact the only thing that we see here is the following : systems have to be open because else we don't have interoperability which is exactly what we get when we take the champions of closed system together : Adobe and Apple. Now I already am hearing morons yelling in the back of the room about how Apple supports Open-source and blahblahblah webkit blahblahblah. Webkit is not an Apple product.It's not developed by Apple. Apple just uses it and by paying very little money has ensured the control over it's development strategy. But don't be fooled Apple and Adobe has very similar approach to the CE business. Both this company use free (as in beer) sotfware to capture an audience and then lock these people into their integrated solution. So yes this article says Jobs is a hypocritical lying piece of crap. Because he is.
          • by NekSnappa (803141) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @09:11AM (#32063258)

            Your reading comprehension needs some work. Your first sentence shows that you couldn't understand the parent post's first sentence.

            He said that Apple makes a closed device (iPhone) for accessing an open platform (the web). Please learn to read with both your eyes and mind open before typing your next rant.

  • by WilliamBaughman (1312511) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:25PM (#32060324)

    I think that what many people are missing is that what Apple is offering is a proprietary implementation of open standards, vs a proprietary implementation of a closed standard. If Apple finds a problem in Safari, it can fix it. If it finds a problem with Flash, it can't. An iPhone owner who doesn't like Apple's implementations of HTML5 or IMAP can get a different smart phone. If he doesn't like Adobe's implementation of Flash, he's hosed.

    • by aussie_a (778472) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:44PM (#32060426) Journal

      That's stupid. If a user doesn't like Adobe's implementation of Flash, he can choose not to Flash. At the moment the user has less choice, not more.

      • by cbreak (1575875) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:58PM (#32060522)
        There is a big difference between a proprietary software and a proprietary format. If the format is open, you can chose which software to use to view it. Just look at Office and it's format: It is a massive factor in the dominance of the software. But Internet Explorer is a proprietary software rendering an open format, you can easily pick or even implement yourself a different reader. That's why there is a competition in the browser space, much more than in that for office software.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by QuantumG (50515) *

          Except that on iPhone, iPad, etc there is no choice. Apple prohibits any product which competes with their own.

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:47PM (#32060446) Homepage

      Apple wants me to be dependent on Apple.

      I would rather not be dependent on Apple. I would rather not be dependent on Adobe either. However, I would like to be able to choose for myself.

      At least Microsoft allows me the freedom to be "tasteless".

      This is "why I shouldn't buy an iPad". This is also why "no one else should buy an iPad".

      No one should actually buy into the idea that Jobs is some sort of nice-guy-hippie. He just wants people to buy into his brand of vendorlock.

      • by mr_lizard13 (882373) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:12PM (#32060622)

        This is also why "no one else should buy an iPad".

        It's why you shouldn't buy an iPad, sure, but to be fair, being dependant on Apple is one of the things that makes this device appeal to me. Simple reason being, I've seen Apple products time and time again trump their competitors in terms of usability, and that's the one thing that matters to me.

        I buy it knowing full well it's locked down like fort knox, but it's their control over the thing that makes it as easy to use as possible.

        It's not for everyone, I know.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dangitman (862676)

        At least Microsoft allows me the freedom to be "tasteless".

        But if you choose Microsoft Windows, you are also dependent on Microsoft. How is this any different? How can Microsoft be considered open, when their products are utterly proprietary?

        No one should actually buy into the idea that Jobs is some sort of nice-guy-hippie. He just wants people to buy into his brand of vendorlock.

        Yet, you believe that Microsoft is somehow about freedom and not vendor lock-in. A very strange belief.

    • by Arker (91948)
      H.264 is NOT an "open standard."
      • by Q-Hack! (37846) * on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:37PM (#32060750)

        H.264 is NOT an "open standard."

        Err...

        This may just be semantics, but it is an 'open standard' what it is not is 'open source'. There is a difference.

  • Why not .... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by crumbz (41803)

    ... Let the market decide? If people value walled gardens over open source or vice versatile, then let users vote with their dollars ornEuros or whatever?

    • Re:Why not .... (Score:4, Informative)

      by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:50PM (#32060470) Homepage

      The problem with letting the market decide on fascism is that you no longer get to choose anything else.

      That is what closed standards do.

      Between a Flash app and an Apple app, the Apple app is the one that is more closed.

      Plus, with an Apple app it's not just the proprietary API but the whole walled garden that comes with it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cbreak (1575875)
        Many parts of apple's API are not proprietary: Look at OpenAL, OpenGL, OpenCL. Others are proprietary (Cocoa/Core).
        Between a flash app and an apple app, both apps are closed. They run on one closed system. But at least apple's closed systems is partially open... (I heard that flash was apparently also opened a bit recently... but I haven't seen any result from that yet)
  • by dr2chase (653338) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:35PM (#32060374) Homepage
    I mean, really. The free software guys care about something that is irrelevant to most of Apple's customers, and vice-versa. What's the point?
  • by A. Bosch (858654) <anonymous DOT bosch AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:39PM (#32060398) Homepage
    I RTFA, and I think it's the most well-thought-out criticism of Jobs' anti-Flash editorial I've seen so far The author maintains "the way out of the Adobe vs. Apple cage match is straightforward, and exists already: free software operating systems like GNU/Linux with free software Web browsers, supporting free media formats like Ogg Theora" and later concludes, "So, the correct decision in the dispute between Apple and Adobe is "none of the above." The past we need to leave behind is not just Flash, it's Apple's proprietary software as well." I agree with that in principle. I guess where I get stuck is, I do like OS/X. I like it a lot better than Linux. I'm not involved in cutting video but I work with someone who is, and they tell me they like H.264 a lot better than Ogg Theora. So...am I part of the problem? Is the Free Software movement not up to the task of competing with proprietary software? I feel like the trade-off I'm currently making with OS/X is acceptable -- for now. I don't see myself buying an iPhone (or iPad) anytime soon, but neither do I see myself getting rid of my iMac.
    • I'm not involved in cutting video but I work with someone who is, and they tell me they like H.264 a lot better than Ogg Theora.

      A writer may like PDF or FrameMaker ahead of html but if they want people to read their stuff its going to have to be published in html. Where would we be if you had to use a restricted format to read normal web pages?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by A. Bosch (858654)
        > Where would we be if you had to use a restricted format to read normal web pages? Oh, absolutely; I agree. I'm not a video expert; I was told the quality of the Ogg Theora video paled in comparison to H.264, which is why I mentioned that comparison. I feel like "Open/Free vs Proprietary" sometimes means "Pretty Good vs Very Good." And sometimes "Pretty Good" isn't good enough.
    • That has always been the crux of issue of why the FSF has not been more prominent then it is. It is long on making ideals short on making software that someone who is not a computer enthusiast would be enthusiastic about using.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wrook (134116)

      If the trade-off you are making for yourself is acceptable to you, then be happy with your choice. From your post, it seems that you understand the benefits of software freedom. You realize that you are giving up those freedoms, but you are willing to do so because it seems that the software you use has features that you haven't seen in Free* software. As a personal choice, I, for one, won't criticize you. However, I will caution you that your support of a company that isn't necessarily working in your

  • by RoadNotTaken (1702106) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:44PM (#32060428)
    He's implying that no-one should access the web with a closed OS under any circumstance. That seems ridiculous. There are many items that may benefit from web-access that don't need full/open access. I think right now people are arguing over whether or not a phone is such an item. Personally, I don't want root access to my phone. I'm happy to give up full freedom on my phone in exchange for it NEVER failing to do what I need it to do.
    • by vux984 (928602) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:27PM (#32060684)

      Personally, I don't want root access to my phone. I'm happy to give up full freedom on my phone in exchange for it NEVER failing to do what I need it to do.

      That's a false choice.

      This is ripe for a car analogy actually. You can pop the hood, swap in OEM parts, and tinker to your hearts content, and accept the consequences. Or you can leave it alone, and have it serviced exclusively by factory trained technicians in factory authorized dealers.

      The point is, most people leave their engines unmodified (and receive the security of the factory stock maintained engine), but EVERYONE has the freedom to pop the hood.

      Why exactly do you think you need to give up that freedom?

      • by bennomatic (691188) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @01:56AM (#32061798) Homepage
        And some subset of users of Apple iProducts 'jailbreak" them. Sounds like they have freedom, too. And Apple has the freedom not to support that activity. Everyone's free. Free not to buy a company's products, free to modify them if they don't need vendor support. Free Free Free!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vux984 (928602)

          And some subset of users of Apple iProducts 'jailbreak" them. Sounds like they have freedom, too.

          Jailbreaking your phone is like buying a car with a locked hood, and a contract not to open it. The fact that you can still take a crowbar to it when you get home and likely not get sued for it is not: 'sounds like they have freedom'.

          Freedom is having the right or privilege to do something. Being able to get away with doing something is not freedom, and relying on being able to get away with something as a subst

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        This is ripe for a car analogy actually.

        No, it isn't.

        You can pop the hood, swap in OEM parts, and tinker to your hearts content, and accept the consequences.

        It's illegal to make emissions modifications in some states, without approved parts... i.e. they paid taxes, mostly in the form of application fees. These fees must be paid every year to get a new C.A.R.B. E.O. number, even if the parts have not changed, nor has the engine upon which they are installed. I have an ATS 088 Turbo kit. It is an upgrade for the ATS 085. ATS 085 was made in 1985 and has new E.O. numbers for '86 and '87, for which filing fees were paid, though neither the engine they

  • Typical con (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:49PM (#32060464) Homepage
    This is pretty typical for a confidence man or a salesman - he doesn't ask "do you want my product or not" but rather, "do you want the green one, or the blue one?" The trick is accepting the false premise in the first place. As soon as you try to follow the red queen as it jumps around from left, right, and center, the con man has you.
  • It is a choice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cbreak (1575875) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:50PM (#32060468)

    Apple is presenting users with a false choice between Adobe's proprietary software and Apple's walled garden.

    It is a real choice, but there are obviously more options to chose from than the enumerated two.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      > It is a real choice, but there are obviously more options to chose from than the enumerated two.

      It's called " false choice [wikipedia.org]" because the limit on the number of choices is artificial. The fact that you actually can choose one of the options is irrelevant. The important part is that you have more than just the choices presented to you and someone is using false rhetoric to distract you from that fact.

      So no, it really is a false choice, even though you really can choose one of the options presented to you

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mr_matticus (928346)

        It's called "false choice" because the limit on the number of choices is artificial

        Yeah, but in this case, it's the same "false choice" as asking someone whether they are traveling by car or taking public transit to a destination 25 miles away.

        It's technically true that someone could bike or run, and some people might even advocate that biking is the "right" approach, but it's thoroughly impractical expectation that cars and public transit should shut down, and everyone should just bike.

        I don't see anything in Jobs' letter that would preclude the use of free and unpatented standards in ad

  • by dangitman (862676) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:01PM (#32060536)

    For example:

    A free Web needs free software. You cannot have a free Web if your access to the software you use to engage the Web is limited to an arbitrary number of computers, or if you are not allowed to conduct business on the Web using the software, or if you are forbidden from asking someone to develop additional features you need.

    The web is a separate entity to the client software that accesses it. If somebody accesses the "free web" with a proprietary client, that doesn't make the web any less free or open. The "free web" is dependent on open standards, not the open source nature of browsers. As long as open source browsers exist, I don't see what the FSF's problem is, users still have a choice.

  • by MauiMaker (1802288) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:02PM (#32060542)
    Mr Jalopy posted a note [blogspot.com] on doing a search & replace of Adobe w/Apple and Flash w/closed. It reads rather well. Probably NOT what Steveo intended but if the turtleneck fits...
  • by tkrotchko (124118) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:05PM (#32060560) Homepage

    Steve Job's isn't a tech visionary, he's a *salesman*! That's all you need to know.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      This was the bit of pure luck which got Apple off the ground. If Jobs and Woz had been even five years older Jobs would have laid all these NDAs and contracts and such onto Woz and he would have bailed out of the partnership in disgust.

      And Apple wouldn't have happened. It needed the tech guy and the marketing guy to be young and immature enough not to hate each other.

    • by Cronock (1709244) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:56PM (#32060864)

      Steve Job's isn't a tech visionary, he's a *salesman*! That's all you need to know.

      A salesman that has an uncanny sense of knowing where the market is going, the flexibility to quickly adapt and be there right on time, and a company behind him that churns out products that continue to be top notch in satisfaction year after year.

  • apple should drop that $99y just to come free apps other phone systems do not have this level of lock in.

  • apple needs to drop the App Store censorship too!!

    That is likely why no flash.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:36PM (#32060748)

    Steve Jobs has one reason and one reason only for disallowing Flash on his platforms: If flash could be run in the browser, the entire app market would fall apart--the same useless apps would be available for free on the internet. Apple wouldn't make any more from the app store. Anything else Stevo says about Flash is complete BS and misdirection. /story

  • by gig (78408) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:39PM (#32060768)

    There is no choice when it comes to open standards. It's a Web developer's responsibility to build HTML5, it's a platform vendor's responsibility to include HTML5, it's a browser maker's responsibility to render HTML5, it's a tool-maker's responsibility to make their tools compliant with HTML5. The spec is not optional. Your website also has to use UTF-8 and TCP/IP and ISO MPEG-4.

    Consumers use the Web now. Regular people with phones, not tech people with PC's. You can't ask them to patch their system, use an alternate browser, install a plug-in, update a plug-in, or do any kind of I-T work at all. The model is CD/DVD players. A CD put into a CD player has to work. You have to make your CD to Red Book spec, and CD Players have to be to Red Book spec. End of story.

    Flash developers do not use the Flash tool to make Flash ... that is an Adobe conceit. They use Flash to make Web apps. In the HTML4 era (1999 through 2007), a Web app was HTML4 plus an embedded plug-in for Mac/PC. The entire Web was Mac/PC, and most users were techies. In the HTML5 era (2007 forward), a Web app is HTML5 on any unknown platform. The users are everybody. That is the reality. There are dozens of HTML5 platforms and only Mac/PC has a Flash plug-in. Adobe's FlashPlayer team is less than 8 people. How are that going to support dozens of platforms? How will the 3-4 updates per year be distributed to what will soon be 10 billion devices? Stop holding your breath.

    What has to happen is Adobe has to upgrade their nonstandard, proprietary, closed Web app tool to export HTML5 Web apps. They have to respect the Web app spec just as music tool makers had to respect Red Book. End of story.

    It's unbelievable to see FSF support a tool where developers write JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and include ISO MPEG-4 and wrap it up in a closed binary that only proprietary software from one vendor can render. Not to mention, Flash is 14 years old and has had 3 different owners. What if Microsoft buys Adobe (with cash) and screws it up even further, or Apple buys Adobe (with cash) and shuts it down? The Web cannot depend on a single $599 Mac/Windows tool to create and publish audio video. In 5 years, the Web will look like TV. Adobe cannot be the only one who makes VCR's. There is not even a Flash authoring tool for Linux!

    Standards are not an issue of choice. See HD-DVD and Blu-Ray DVD which together killed the fucking DVD! No, we are not going to have both standard and nonstandard Web apps. There is only one Web, and it's open, and you can build and publish whatever you want, with any tools, on any platform, as long as you respect the HTML5 spec. Users can use any device, from any manufacturer, to view the Web, as long as that device respects the HTML5 spec. The lack of choice with regards to the spec enables unlimited choice in everything else. See the billion CD/DVD players and exponentially more media and the world enriched by music and movies. Now, we are doing that for the Web with HTML5.

     

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @11:43PM (#32061134) Homepage

    When will it be out?

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