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Apple the No. 1 Danger To Net Freedom 354

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-we-like-the-shiny dept.
CWmike writes "Columbia law professor Tim Wu, who coined the term 'net neutrality,' now says that Apple is the company that most endangers the freedom of the Internet. Wu recently published the book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, in which he details what he calls 'information empires' such as AT&T, NBC, Facebook, and Google. He told The New York Times, 'It's largely a story of the American affection for information monopolists and the consequences of that fondness.' When asked whether the Internet could similarly be controlled by large companies, he told the Times: 'I know the Internet was designed to resist integration, designed to resist centralized control, and that design defeated firms like AOL and Time Warner. But firms today, like Apple, make it unclear if the Internet is something lasting or just another cycle.' Asked which companies he feared most, Wu replied: 'Right now, I'd have to say Apple.'" Wu has been in the news a bit lately.
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Apple the No. 1 Danger To Net Freedom

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  • by SeriouslyNoClue (1842116) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:41PM (#34232606)
    Information is the new capital! It should be bought and sold on markets, it should have rates associated with it and Perato Law should be applied!

    All hail the new information emporer -- he that knowth what is right and wrong by virtue of his vast information resources! We should herald our new turtlenecked emporer and congratulate him on his victory with abjection, not this slime written by a clearly Oriental socialist [amazon.com]!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cjcela (1539859)
      So your political ideas on how to handle information should apply instead to the Internet, SeriouslyNoClue? Why not just let Internet alone, without trying to force anybody's view on how information has to be controlled, instead.

      Honestly, people like you are scary. You are so angry and with so little perspective.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        So you didn't get the sarcasm from his username which you actually used that name in your reply? Or notice that it was modded funny, even though you didn't get the joke?

        Honestly, people like you are scary. Lots scarier than clowns, anyway.

  • by Andy Smith (55346) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:42PM (#34232616) Homepage

    The entire threat posed by Apple comes to nought if people don't buy Apple products. I'm doing my bit.

    • by samkass (174571) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:01PM (#34232908) Homepage Journal

      Of course, if you buy Android you'll be using the extremely standards-compliant WebKit engine Apple put together to view the HTML5 content that Apple has been pushing over proprietary Flash/Applet models...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Apple might be pushing HTML5 support ahead, and I certainly wouldn't deny them due credit for those efforts, but they are not solely responsible for the advent of or continued development and refinement of an HTML5 standard. Their reasons for supporting HTML5 are most certainly not to be more open (or whatever happy fairy tale one might conceive of), but to stifle their competition. There is nothing wrong with that, but let's not use it to justify some belief that Apple isn't a threat to the free Internet
        • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:27PM (#34233376)

          Their reasons for supporting HTML5 are most certainly not to be more open (or whatever happy fairy tale one might conceive of), but to stifle their competition.

          Stifle competition? Don't be daft. They support HTML5 because it aligns with their business goals. Having an open standard for the Web that is capable and not tied to any other company simply provides Apple with a better position to sell devices without worrying about other companies blocking them. If neither Adobe nor Microsoft controls the tools and formats and players needed to view the Web, then they can't be roadblocks to technological changes Apple implements as a way to differentiate their hardware offerings.

          There is nothing wrong with that, but let's not use it to justify some belief that Apple isn't a threat to the free Internet.

          Apple or any other large company could do things that threaten freedom on the internet. Blackwater could threaten to kill executives of any company that doesn't lock down all their offerings with DRM. But that's no reason to label Blackwater the number one threat to the free internet. You have to look at what companies are actually doing and why and how it fits into their business plans. Apple right now and for the foreseeable future makes their money selling hardware. They create software and services to make that hardware more attractive. So how does locking down the internet make Apple more money and sell more devices? Oh yeah, it doesn't. Until you have a compelling business plan that will make Apple more money and some reason to think Apple is moving towards that business plan, you're just spreading FUD, which is really what this article is.

          • by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:51PM (#34233774)

            Apple right now and for the foreseeable future makes their money selling hardware.

            This is less true as time goes on. Apple's traditional business model is to sell Apple software tied to expensive hardware with high margins. But now they're getting a cut of everything sold in their App Stores. Once there are Android phones available for $150 or less, Apple has to decide whether compete at that price point. The old Apple would say no. The new Apple has to weigh the lower margins on hardware against all the revenue they would lose by having fewer iOS devices out in the world to sell apps for, plus the network effects when they sell more devices and therefore people write more and better apps for them and therefore they sell more devices and more apps.

            But the trouble for freedom with that model is that it's predicated on Apple getting a cut of all the software that anyone sells for an Apple device. Which means you can't just make software and distribute it on your own, you have to sell it through Apple. And then Apple gets to break out the ban hammer whenever they want if your app is disruptive to the business model of Apple or Hollywood or the phone company or the Chinese government or anybody else who can exercise more leverage over Apple than Apple benefits from selling your app.

            • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday November 15, 2010 @03:14PM (#34234150)

              Apple right now and for the foreseeable future makes their money selling hardware.

              This is less true as time goes on.

              That's an interesting hypothesis.

              But now they're getting a cut of everything sold in their App Stores.

              Yes, but it accounts for an insignificant portion of their profits and Steve Jobs has repeatedly told shareholders it is not a money maker for Apple and they're running the store as a way to sell hardware. Since it would be criminal for him to lie to shareholders, I think it's pretty reasonable to assume this is true.

              Once there are Android phones available for $150 or less, Apple has to decide whether compete at that price point. The old Apple would say no.

              Umm, we've been through this with the iPod market and the PC market. Apple builds offering on the high end, moves into the midrange and uses volume to keep the added services and differentiators they use to make sales a non-issue. They leave the low-end to other players.

              The new Apple has to weigh the lower margins on hardware against all the revenue they would lose by having fewer iOS devices out in the world to sell apps for, plus the network effects when they sell more devices and therefore people write more and better apps for them and therefore they sell more devices and more apps.

              They don't really make money selling apps, at least not enough to account for more than a few percent of Apple's revenue. Losing those sales and not completely dominating a market are familiar territory for Apple. It makes them more money to ignore the low end as demonstrated by how much money Apple has been making.

              But the trouble for freedom with that model is that it's predicated on Apple getting a cut of all the software that anyone sells for an Apple device.

              Your hypothesis IS interesting, but doesn't seem supported by the facts. Apple does wield a lot of control over apps on iPhones, but they do it as a differentiator to make customers happy and sell more hardware. Apple doesn't limit apps because app sales are so profitable. They do it because people who aren't geeks don't want to have to go multiple places to get apps, don't want to deal with malware apps, don't want to worry about security, don't want their kids having access to porn apps, etc. It's a way to make iPhones more attractive to buyers. Apple isn't pulling in piles of cash from their share of app sales. They have very thin margins there. If they were, would they offer free apps? No, they're raking in the cash by selling iPhones because people like them, partly because of the store lock in effects. It might not seem that public opinion is in favor of it if you just read Slashdot and listen to geeks, but we're a tiny segment of the market. I just don't see the money in app sales considering how small a share Apple is taking compared to hosting costs, overhead, payment processing, and tech support.

              • by ebbe11 (121118) on Monday November 15, 2010 @04:38PM (#34235258)

                Your hypothesis IS interesting, but doesn't seem supported by the facts. Apple does wield a lot of control over apps on iPhones, but they do it as a differentiator to make customers happy and sell more hardware. Apple doesn't limit apps because app sales are so profitable. They do it because people who aren't geeks don't want to have to go multiple places to get apps, don't want to deal with malware apps, don't want to worry about security, don't want their kids having access to porn apps, etc.

                But in doing that, they impose American morals and standards on the rest of the world. There is a Danish tabloid newspaper (Ekstrabladet) that has had to censor their iPhone app in order to get it approved. This paper has for last thirty years or so published a picture of a very lightly dressed girl on page nine in every issue (known as "the page nine girl") and no one in Denmark takes offense of that. But you won't find a "page nine girl" in their iPhone app - because Cupertino doesn't like that.

                The real question is: what will Apple block next? Unfavorable descriptions of Apple products? Articles that are critical of US politics?

                I'd say that you Americans should be worried about how Apple may limit your free speech - because in my opinion, they are well on their way.

      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:26PM (#34233340)

        >Of course, if you buy Android you'll be using the extremely standards-compliant WebKit engine Apple put together

        Err, webkit is a fork of KHTML, which Apple forked in 2002 and rebadged "webkit." Thank the KDE guys who wrote KHTML under a license that allows such things.

        • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:54PM (#34233830)

          Of course, if you buy Android you'll be using the extremely standards-compliant WebKit engine Apple put together

          Err, webkit is a fork of KHTML, which Apple forked in 2002 and rebadged "webkit." Thank the KDE guys who wrote KHTML under a license that allows such things.

          Yes, Webkit is a fork of KHTML, but with a huge amount of code added. Do thank the KHTML team for much of the initial work. Do thank Google and Nokia and several other players for contributing significant amounts of code to the project. But don't ignore Apple's contribution of a huge amount of the code and for taking KHTML, modernizing it, organizing it into a first class HTML and javascript engine, and funding and supporting the effort to make it a collaborative mainstream project that can truly utilize the contributions of several major players. Also, don't overlook that it is indicative of much of Apple's strategy regarding openness and the Web.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by UnknowingFool (672806)

          Err, webkit is a fork of KHTML, which Apple forked in 2002 and rebadged "webkit." Thank the KDE guys who wrote KHTML under a license that allows such things.

          That's not really an honest depiction of what happened. Apple did not merely rename KHTML as WebKit and called it done. Apple has extended KHTML far beyond what the original coders have done. Apple has made vast improvements to many aspects of the original code. In fact, Apple made so many changes and so quickly that the original KHTML developers had problems backporting the changes which tells you how much the KHTML liked the changes. In its haste Apple did not do a very good job of documenting the ch

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by makomk (752139)

            In fact, Apple made so many changes and so quickly that the original KHTML developers had problems backporting the changes

            That's largely thanks to the nature of the changes, though. The big change in Webkit was that Apple modified it to use their own proprietary rendering and HTTP libraries rather than the Qt and KDE ones. This meant that Webkit couldn't be used as a replacement for KDE. It was several years before anyone managed to write a Qt-based version of Webkit at all.

  • Follow the money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Space cowboy (13680) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:43PM (#34232622) Journal
    Anyone would think he had an agenda, maybe trying to drum up some publicity for a book or something. Oh, wait...
    • by Cid Highwind (9258) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:54PM (#34232800) Homepage
      Bingo. He's playing the John C Dvorak strategy.

      If you say Google or Facebook are the biggest threat to freedom on Internet: everyone yawns and says "well, duh!" and goes back to playing Farmville. If you say anything bad at all about Apple, the rabid haters (see: all the comments here so far) and the frothing fanboys (wait until this gets posted on TUAW or DaringFireball) show up in droves and drive your ad impressions (or book sales) through the roof.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4215587585970919950#

        Dvorak's Greatest Hits:

        1984: "The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things."

        2006: "Apple will drop OS X for Windows"

        2007: "Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone"

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:44PM (#34232638)

    And he wants the power.

    But he gives no inkling as to how Apple is actually dangerous to the net. I would think internet-focused companies like Google, Cisco or a raft of ISPs like Comcast would be much higher on the list.

    This guy just comes off as paranoid.

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:57PM (#34232860)

      There are a lot of companies where accusations can be leveled at for limiting Net freedom. Apple is scary to some because it hits people at the endpoints; a place that is normally open. However, if you lock down the endpoints where people can access the Net, it is a lot easier to get revenue streams in and in the future, censor those who are not liked.

      However, it is like no one snowflake saying it caused the avalanche -- name a cellular device maker who has made devices less restrictive than 1-2 years ago? Motorola has the eFuses, The HTC G2 reinstalls, Apple's and Microsoft's offerings are closed. In fact, there is really only one open phone out there available in the US (Nokia N900).

      So, I wouldn't just blame Apple. I'd blame the cellular carriers forcing phone makers to add more and more user hostility into their devices.

    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:10PM (#34233028)

      . I would think internet-focused companies like Google, Cisco or a raft of ISPs like Comcast would be much higher on the list.

      Uh, they already are. Check your terms of service. Comcast's, several years ago, had paragraphs outlining how you agreed to be a content CONSUMER, not a content PRODUCER. They banned webservers, mail servers, FTP sites, and most frighteningly: "discussion" systems, aka, web boards, chat systems, etc. Home internet connections long ago went from being a pipe you could do whatever (non-network-abusive) things you wanted to with, to a pipe you're expected to use to read your email hosted somewhere else and watch Netflix.

      I also find it laughable that anyone but Google could be #1. They're the largest webmail provider, the largest search engine, the largest advertising network, and the largest video/blog hosting company. For fuck's sakes, they're photographically mapping the world and wardriving while doing so. About the only thing they haven't managed to secure is photo-hosting; I'm pretty sure Flickr (yahoo) still dominates that.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:14PM (#34233118) Journal

      There are two places where someone can gain that power.

      He who controls the servers.
      and
      He who controls the clients.

      If one party controls a high portion one side, and no one party controls the opposing side, the opposing side has to adapt to the side under a monopoly. If one side is controlled by one party, and the opposing side is controlled by a conflicting party, then they either need to come to a compromise (where both win and the consumers, usually, lose) or one/both of them will be wrestled out by third parties who can work with the other side.

      Basically, if the decline of the desktop/laptop comes into play and Apple gets the iGadgets (Phone, Pod, Pad, etc.), into a high level of dominance, or Apple continues it's popularity upswing too far, then Apple will have the client side under it's belt, and suddenly, it has a very strong control of the internet - If Apple prevents Flash players on it's clients for HTML5, Flash is gone, if Apple prevents HTML5 on it's client for ProprietaryAppleWebMarkupLanguage, HTML5 is gone, if Apple says AmazingAwesomeNewTech isn't allowed, AmazingAwesomeNewTech is gone, etc.

      Mind you, I don't think it's remotely reasonable that Apple will get this kind of power, they have a habit of shaking their iron fists a little too soon. Still, surprises sometimes happen.

    • This guy just comes off as paranoid.

      In stark contrast to Steve Jobs, known for his gentle, giving, open-minded nature, overflowing with the milk of human kindness.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by thethibs (882667)
      Actually, he does say. Read the interview again.
    • Google thrives on the open internet... well sorta open. Google is a danger but only in that their restrictions on which sites they sponsor, oops advertise on, creates a pressure for sites to comply with their rules on content or risk loosing advertising revenue to pay for their site. It is the same risk that has made TV/Radio/Newspapers such tools of the money market, he that pays the piper (through advertising) calls the song.

      Apple on the hand sees the internet as little more then a data network, it itsel

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833)

      As I discuss in the book, Steve Jobs has the charisma, vision and instincts of every great information emperor. The man who helped create the personal computer 40 years ago is probably the leading candidate to help exterminate it. His vision has an undeniable appeal, but he wants too much control.

      I went ahead and bolded the relevant part (which I happen to agree with). Steve Jobs is a charismatic leader who desires more control than is good for us. Regardless, the guy is clearly just trying to sell his book, so if you want to know what he really thinks, and why he thinks it, you know what to do. It's not real fair to judge his reasoning based on the transcript blurbs that the newspaper chose to use. The reason he has a book is because he has a lot to say about it.

      As for why anyone having "too mu

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:47PM (#34232700)
    What worries you about Apple?

    As I discuss in the book, Steve Jobs has the charisma, vision and instincts of every great information emperor. The man who helped create the personal computer 40 years ago is probably the leading candidate to help exterminate it. His vision has an undeniable appeal, but he wants too much control.

    Is this supposed to be a revelation that a omnipotent, profitable monopoly like Apple is too controlling?
    • by doconnor (134648) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:07PM (#34232996) Homepage

      I think it's that most omnipotent, profitable monopolies only care about money. Jobs has a specific vision about how people should be using the devices he makes and he doesn't want people using it any other way.

      Most companies wouldn't care if people use apps that are ugly and doesn't conform to UI specs, but Jobs does, so those apps are blocked from the iPhone and iPad. This also mean some apps with innovative UI will be blocked as well.

      User interface is only one example of the restrictions he has imposed.

      • by Old97 (1341297)

        he doesn't want people using it any other way.

        Bullshit. Jobs doesn't want to sell certain kinds of products. He expects to sell plenty doing it his way and he's proven right. However, he's done nothing to keep people from buying from his competitors. Apple's PC market share is just now at 10% in the U.S. IPhone is very successful and yet it is around 20% of the smartphone market. IPads dominate the tablet or "media device" space because the competition hasn't shown up yet. They got caught flatfooted and are at least 6 months away from mounting

    • by blair1q (305137) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:14PM (#34233116) Journal

      The only thing Apple has a monopoly on is its own products.

    • by lymond01 (314120)

      Is this supposed to be a revelation that a omnipotent, profitable monopoly like Apple is too controlling?

      No, it's a trailer for his book. That is all.

    • by Brannon (221550) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:15PM (#34233132)

      I'm still not able to run arbitrary code on the processor in my microwave or my refrigerator. Why can't I manually deploy the airbag in my car? How come there's no flash client for my wristwatch.

      Apple is small potatoes--this goes all the way to the top.

    • Steve Jobs has the charisma, vision and instincts of every great information emperor.

      Steve Jobs has the charisma of Money Burns after a few Singapore Slings. And will someone name any great information emperor let alone every one.

      The man who helped create the personal computer 40 years ago is probably the leading candidate to help exterminate it. His vision has an undeniable appeal, but he wants too much control.

      So the man who caused the problem finally wants to fix it? Excellent

  • Monopoly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IP_Troll (1097511) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:49PM (#34232724)
    Don't you need to dominate the market to be considered a monopoly? Last time I checked Apple only dominates the hipster/ trust-afarian/ techno-snob markets. Plenty of other markets for fledgling entrepreneurs.

    Mr. Wu seems to be saying inflammatory things to increase book sales.
    • Re:Monopoly? (Score:5, Informative)

      by orphiuchus (1146483) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:55PM (#34232810)
      Its a oligopoly, like Coke and Pepsi. Bad for consumers, but not quite as bad as a Monopoly. Its a very hard market failure to correct however, because actually breaking up Microsoft and Apple would cripple computing for 5-10 years. Kind of like At&t. In a decade we would all be better off, but in the short term it would be rough. It'll never happen anyway because the lobby system has become so powerful, and I don't think any politician wants to lose all that sweet money.
      • Don't you need to dominate the market to be considered a monopoly?

        Its a oligopoly, like Coke and Pepsi.

        Okay then, to be an oligopoly you still need to control a market, just in collusion with another company. What market are you alleging Apple is colluding to control? I mean there are a few candidates where they have a lot of influence, but I don't know any where collusion is really significant.

        What market(s)?

        • Actually an oligopoly doesn't necessarily imply price fixing, it just means there is a general lack of choices. And that is exactly what we have.
          • Actually an oligopoly doesn't necessarily imply price fixing...

            No, it doesn't but it does require control of the market.

            ...it just means there is a general lack of choices. And that is exactly what we have.

            I already asked twice. For the third and final time, what market? Oligopolies refer to markets. If you can't specify a market, your comment makes no sense at all. You say, "we" have no choices. So are you referring to a market where consumers are doing the purchasing directly? Please be specific. What market, dominated by Apple and what other parties?

            • The only market that Apple competes in that this wouldn't apply to is smart-phones. Music sales, personal computers and music players would all count, but I would call the market I'm referring to "general computing". The oligopoly is between Microsoft and Apple, and although it is close to a monopoly for Microsoft I would still consider it a oligopoly because the only choices most consumers consider are Apple and Microsoft, and most consumers do consider both. The reason I haven't been answering this specif
              • Re:Monopoly? (Score:5, Informative)

                by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:45PM (#34233662)

                The only market that Apple competes in that this wouldn't apply to is smart-phones.

                Apple is part of an oligopoly controlling input devices, music players, Web editors, and laptops? Umm, maybe you need to go do a bit more research on what an oligopoly is.

                Music sales, personal computers and music players would all count

                So Apple is part of an oligopoly on the personal computer market? So fully 25% of the market belongs to small players and the remaining 75% is divided among five major companies with no one company dominating. So I guess my question for you is, how do you differentiate an oligopoly from a healthy, competitive market? I mean you can literally choose from hundreds of PC manufacturers when making a purchase. I really don't see it.

                but I would call the market I'm referring to "general computing".

                You need to take an economics course. "general computing" isn't a market. A market is defined by sellers and buyers and the subset of offerings where those sellers are competing for a transaction from the buyer. For example, a person buying a PC might look at a Dell, and HP, an Apple, and a Microtel. All the people offering competing options make up the market. Microsoft does not sell a PC, nor does AMD so they are not part of the market. IBM sells large contracts that include many PCs and support and services, so they too are not part of the market. You see how it works? "General computing" would be an industry (maybe), not a market.

                The oligopoly is between Microsoft and Apple, and although it is close to a monopoly for Microsoft I would still consider it a oligopoly because the only choices most consumers consider are Apple and Microsoft, and most consumers do consider both.

                That's not an oligopoly because Microsoft sells into the desktop OS market and Apple does not sell a stand alone desktop OS. Microsoft has a monopoly in that market. Apple bypasses the market entirely by insourcing and competes in the fairly robust desktop and laptop computer markets. The lack of choice you're complaining about is called a "monopoly".

                The reason I haven't been answering this specific question is because it should be obvious to most people.

                That's not a very good reason, especially because you seem to be misusing the terms and failing to understand the basic principals of markets. It's only obvious if people understand your misuse terms and share your imprecise perception of how markets are working.

      • Not sure I agree. Given these options: force MS to actually use an open format for Word, Excel, and server protocols OR break them up, I'm sure that everyone would be better off with the former (except maybe MS). Similar for Apple, if they had to publish their server protocols and couldn't have the EULA exclude jail breaking, then others could setup environments similar to theirs and compete. Breaking these companies up would just make little firms that jealously guarded these same bits of market force.

        But

      • by osgeek (239988)

        breaking up Microsoft and Apple would cripple computing for 5-10 years. Kind of like At&t. In a decade we would all be better off

        Apple is the one company that's been driving innovation in mp3 players, smart phones, music distribution, and pretty-much in OSes. Android probably wouldn't exist if Apple hand't proven the smart phone concept.

        How on earth do you even figure that Apple is bad for consumers? Consumers can leave them any time the value proposition isn't there.

        It's not like Apple has key infrastructure locked up like AT&T did with the phone lines. It's not like Apple has government regulations backing up their position

    • by Kenja (541830)
      What's "the market"? Markets have been very tightly defined at times. I recall one case where the market was defined by the judge as something like "juice products containing at least 10% apple juice and contained in plastic bottles of a specific size" (think it was Odwala they where after, cant fully recall).
    • It's in iTunes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hellfire (86129)

      Apple is the dominant music download service. It also has over 90% of the app market in that most paid for apps exist in the iTunes App store. These markets are a little less impactful than say a Monopoly on the desktop OS or telephone service, and I might say that iTunes dominance has been, in comparatively good for users in this one instance because they have driven down music prices, given users more choices to download only single songs, and created a huge diverse market for consumers to download apps

  • Apple's website says there's going to be a big announcement tomorrow.

    I wonder what it could be.

    • by orphiuchus (1146483) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:56PM (#34232836)
      Another ipod update that erases all of my music and I have to pay for?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      iBrainImplant. Now you can enjoy music the right way.... the way Jobs dictates it. That's right Job's own playlist is constantly played in your head!

      Note: side effects include a overwhelming compulsion to buy anything released from apple. This is a minor bug.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      The iWorldDominator.
    • BIG Announcement (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Infonaut (96956)

      Jobs will announce that The Internet will now be referred to as iTunes.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Apple's website says there's going to be a big announcement tomorrow.

      I wonder what it could be.

      Mobile Safari can now only buy webpages via iTunes? Would dovetail nicely with this thread.

    • by Animats (122034)

      Rumors are just that Apple will offer streaming music. Yawn. This is being hyped as "music in the cloud", whatever that's supposed to mean.

      Now a really big announcement would be Apple buying Live Nation [wikipedia.org]. Then Apple would control concerts, venues, ticket sales, band promotion, and many top performers - the parts of the music industry still worth something. The "record labels" and radio, which are in decline, would be cut out.

  • Greenpeace (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:49PM (#34232728)
    Greenpeace recently (a year-ish ago) admitted that they picked on Apple, despite there being significantly more egregious examples of companies manufacturing products that weren't friendly to the environment because they knew that talking about Apple would get their name mentioned in the news. This guy is doing the same thing - talk about Apple, in any way, and people will see what he has to say, even if he's completely full of it and wrong.

    And, in this case, he's wrong. There are very few significant tech companies that push open internet standards as much as Apple does. Apple was the first major tech company to significantly push for DRM-free music purchases. They strongly support open standards in many ways. Are they perfect? No. No company is so why would anyone expect them to be? But, regardless of their imperfections, there are actually few companies of their significance that are as pro-open standards as they are. Claiming that they are the biggest threat to internet freedom is simply an attempt to get people to pay attention to what you have to say, similar to what Greenpeace did.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851)

      nd, in this case, he's wrong. There are very few significant tech companies that push open internet standards as much as Apple does. Apple was the first major tech company to significantly push for DRM-free music purchases. They strongly support open standards in many ways. Are they perfect? No. No company is so why would anyone expect them to be? But, regardless of their imperfections, there are actually few companies of their significance that are as pro-open standards as they are. Claiming that they are the biggest threat to internet freedom is simply an attempt to get people to pay attention to what you have to say, similar to what Greenpeace did.

      Apple pushed for DRM-free music purchases after it had abused the hell out of their position in the online music store business. They had a huge number of exclusives and if you wanted to listen to it away from your computer or laptop you were stuck using an iPod or degrading the sound quality further by burning it to CD and ripping it.

      It's easy to be in favor of opening things up once you've managed your way into a stranglehold on the market. Quite a bit harder to get there if you do it the right way.

      • Re:Greenpeace (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:14PM (#34233114)

        It's easy to be in favor of opening things up once you've managed your way into a stranglehold on the market.

        Actually, no it isn't. You see keeping things closed makes it harder to acquire market share because it makes your offering less attractive to users. Keeping things closed is an advantage only after you've dominated a market, because it prevents you from having to work hard to compete in that space to maintain your dominance. So by your version of events, Apple did the exact opposite of what an abusive monopoly normally does or what would make sense if Apple was concentrating on the online music market instead of using it as a way to push their hardware business.

        if you wanted to listen to it away from your computer or laptop you were stuck using an iPod or degrading the sound quality further by burning it to CD and ripping it.

        Yeah, but that was the case with every offering at the time because if you wanted to sell digital music you had to abide by the rules of the RIAA, you know an actual illegal trust convicted multiple time of colluding to undermine the free market. Apple played by the RIAA's rules until they had enough influence to make changes. Now don't get me wrong. There was nothing altruistic about Apple's actions. They just weren't interested in the online music business except as a way to make money selling devices. That's the business model they thought would profit them most and it is only coincidence that their business plans aligned with the best interests of consumers in weakening and getting rid of DRM. They still did more good than most any other single company in making things better for consumers.

      • by Infonaut (96956)

        Apple pushed for DRM-free music purchases after it had abused the hell out of their position in the online music store business.

        You do remember the bit about the record companies fighting tooth and nail over both pricing and DRM, right? It's fashionable to say Apple had some sort of stranglehold over the music industry from the moment it delivered iTunes 1.0, but that's wildly off the mark.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dangitman (862676)

        They had a huge number of exclusives and if you wanted to listen to it away from your computer or laptop you were stuck using an iPod or degrading the sound quality further by burning it to CD and ripping it.

        Meanwhile, the competitors (Windows Media... and some RealNetworks thing, I think) often didn't allow burning the DRMed files to CD at all, or any other form of media portability. And Apple had the "Rip, Mix, Burn" campaign that encouraged digital copying, and was the target of music industry outrage.

    • Re:Greenpeace (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wickerprints (1094741) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:05PM (#34232968)

      Exactly! If I had to pick the biggest threats, I'd say most any telecom company or the recording/media companies would be up there. How can someone who coined the word "net neutrality" conveniently ignore the threat that these companies pose by wanting to control who gets to have access?

      I also count Facebook among the more significant threats to internet freedom, simply because they have achieved an enormous amount of power through the data its users have stupidly provided them. Google has done similar, but Facebook is especially strident in the way they exploit their users. That the internet has evolved so that Facebook has become so big is enough reason to consider them a threat.

    • Greenpeace recently (a year-ish ago) admitted that they picked on Apple, despite there being significantly more egregious examples of companies manufacturing products that weren't friendly to the environment because they knew that talking about Apple would get their name mentioned in the news.

      Out of interest, could you post a link for that?

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:51PM (#34232746) Journal

    The guy's nuts. Apple is more like number 4. 3 tops.

  • Wait...wut? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kashell (896893) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:52PM (#34232772)
    As far as I've observed, Apple has done a great job of contributing to a number of open source projects and has used their muscle to force the RIAA/MPAA into the digital space.

    Personally, I'd put the RIAA / MPAA / Copyright Monglers at the top of this list. They're the ones trying to shove the COICA through Congress.

    Which, by the way, they're trying to sneak through by this Thursday.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:52PM (#34232774)
    So let me get this right, the greatest threat to net neutrality isn't you know, Comcast which violated it, Microsoft which runs the majority of desktop PCs, Google which is approaching number 1 in smartphone OS marketshare, and is number one in a multitude of areas, but instead is Apple which has a decent, but falling smartphone marketshare, has a very low amount of marketshare with desktops/laptops, doesn't cater to the masses, and sells expensive stuff that the average person can't afford.

    Of course Apple would want to control everyone's computers, Apple loves control but Apple doesn't like selling cheap stuff. When the choice is between a $450 laptop that can do everything you want to do for the average person or a $350 desktop, an Android handset free on contract on any carrier, etc. or a laptop line -starting- at $999, a tablet -starting- at the price higher than most laptops with less features, desktops -starting- at around $500-600, iPhone on AT&T only for $99-200 on contract, etc.

    Apple isn't a threat to net freedom because Apple doesn't produce cheap enough things for most people to buy.
    • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:48PM (#34233732)

      First of all, despite Apple's relatively minor share of devices, they are one of the most influential companies on the planet with a market cap of over 280 Billion Dollars US. To get an idea of what that means, compare Apple to the market caps of Google, Microsoft, GE and ExxonMobile.
      Despite the author's agenda, he is right in believing that Apple is a major threat to net neutrality. iTunes dominates the online music market, and by its success Apple is forcing every other information distribution service to get in line with them to find customers. They influence how all the players operate, not just themselves. Apple's new model of "control everything" was a hit with consumers who didn't want to have to figure out how to get gadgets to work. Their iron grip can break down our resistance to closed technologies.

      -d

  • Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qbertino (265505) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:53PM (#34232784)

    Wrong. No. 1 danger to net freedom is the increasing amount of its users that don't understand its nature and thus fall into the lock-in trap of corporations. The problem here is that you can force people who can't drive and want to to make a drivers licence, but sadly no one is forcing them to learn about computers if they constantly confuse G**gle with the Web.

    • Re:Wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by David Gould (4938) <david@dgould.org> on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:11PM (#34233058) Homepage

      ...but sadly no one is forcing them to learn about computers if they constantly confuse G**gle with the Web.

      Or, for that matter, "the Web" with "the Internet".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by takowl (905807)

      sadly no one is forcing them to learn about computers if they constantly confuse G**gle with the Web.

      I disagree. Computers and the internet (and Google) are tools. People shouldn't have to understand how it all works in order to use it, because it's fantastically useful even if you think it's powered by magic pixies. We force people to get drivers licences before they're put in charge of half a ton of steel capable of travelling at 100 mph because it's easy to kill people if you get it wrong. If you 'get it wrong' with a computer, you end up with some data in a proprietary format. Which is usually nothing

  • Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:57PM (#34232852) Homepage

    I know we all like to hate Apple but... really? They're fighting against Flash! Yes, they support DRM, but they also pushed for $1 song downloads. I'm not saying their great, but they can't be the number 1 danger.

    I think the idea of the Comcast/NBC merger is far more dangerous. That would be one company with control from content creation all the way to distribution. They could block your access to Fox.com streaming. They could prevent Time Warner customers from viewing NBC shows on Hulu or NBC.com. They would have their own news media outlets to spin the stories about how that blocking is good for customers.

  • Paranoid much, or is this anti-fanboyism of a higher caliber? Apple couldn't control the 'net any more than Microsoft or any other large could, which is to say ... they really can't. Sure, there can be bandwidth shaping terms and conditions thrown around, there can be prioritization of packets, and all the other things that have been happening on various network segments since the "good old days." I guess it's just more fun to demonize large corporations for taking part in doing business with whatever t
  • Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    I think he wants to control as much as he can before he leaves.

    The problem is: people will let him...

  • They're funded by Verizon and convince people to support them because they favor "less taxes" and "smaller government", but they mainly want to get rid of net neutrality.

  • by SteeldrivingJon (842919) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:02PM (#34232912) Homepage Journal

    "As I discuss in the book, Steve Jobs has the charisma, vision and instincts of every great information emperor."

    Every great information emperor?

    Just how many have there been? Remember the great global Hollerith card empire of the 30s? Or the Napoleonic empire based on the data-storage capacity of jaquard looms.

    This is vapid business book bullshit. What a twat.

  • Incorrect.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:02PM (#34232918) Homepage

    Congress is the #1 danger to internet freedom. AS long as people keep voting in these undereducated old fogeys that are only there to help their personal interests, Freedom in general will continue to erode.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sprouticus (1503545)

      Congress is the #1 danger to freedom.

      Fixed that for you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by c++0xFF (1758032)

        Congress is the #1 danger to freedom.

        Fixed that for you.

        Your edit is generally correct. Fortunately, we have two other branches of government to keep them in check.

        That's the theory, anyway. Political parties have blurred the lines between branches a bit.

  • He might be right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theghost (156240) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:11PM (#34233050)

    Apple is more dangerous because the other villains are obvious. Apple makes people want to lock themselves into nice cozy cells. Sure the window is small, but what you can see through the bars is pretty and the chairs are comfy.

    Blah blah blah overused quote about safety, security, liberty, yada yada.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:15PM (#34233140) Journal

    AT&T and Google were mentioned, but not MS. Hmm.

    It surely isn't because Microsoft is good, not with such things to remember them by as OOXML, which was merely one of the more recent of many attempts at lock in, forced upgrades through contrived changes with their proprietary file formats, and perhaps most of all, the "Microsoft tax". Has Microsoft become that feeble? Strip away Windows and MS Office, and more than half the company is gone. One doesn't hear about the Xbox, and their music players, e-book readers, phones, and other software offerings being that significant.

  • by thanasakis (225405) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:29PM (#34233398)

    In the best /. tradition, I won't even bother to RTFA.

    Since the loss of Sun Microsystems, which in retrospect seems to have been one the most open companies ever and with open source contributions surpassing those of almost any other organization's in the world, I have grown extremely suspicious of people dictating to me that this or that is evil, all in the name of "freedom". All those guys that had been bashing Sun must be really happy now that Oracle has taken over.

    I can think of several companies that by /. standards can easily rival the "evilness" of Apple, but almost magically they seldom get mentioned as threats to net freedom. Until I see everyone else get their fair share of bashing and flames, I'll assume articles (and comments) of this class as astroturfing.

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