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Technology (Apple) Businesses Apple Technology

Apple Platform Lock-Ins, A 3rd Party Dev's Opinion 411

Iftekhar writes "Wil Shipley, of Delicious Monster fame, has written a very candid essay on what he perceives as Apple's growing trend toward platform lock-ins. He writes: 'Why is the iPhone locked to a single carrier, so I can't travel internationally with it? There's really only one viable reason: Apple wanted a share of the carrier's profits, which meant giving AT&T an exclusive deal. Which meant, we get screwed so Apple can make more money. It's that simple. [...] As Apple gets more and more of its revenue from non-Mac devices, they are also getting more and more of their revenue from devices that simply exclude third parties. Consumers suffer from this. We suffer from increased prices and decreased competition and innovation. We suffer so Apple can make a few more bucks, when Apple is clearly not hurting for money.'"
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Apple Platform Lock-Ins, A 3rd Party Dev's Opinion

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  • Re:Still... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @12:00PM (#20719627) Homepage
    It's true and Apple has always sold itself on the premise "buy this thing with the Apple logo and you will be a happier person! And you will have friends too!"

    For many people, the attraction to Apple ends when they find out that they can't easily do something that's important to them. For some, like those people who wear "Abercrombie and Fitch" t-shirts and never realize that it's just an ordinary t-shirt, are happy because someone told them they would. [Think placebo effect] (Yes, there is a tiny minority that actually use Apple because they are actually more productive in what they do with it...)

    But by and large, too much of the digital world out there depends on being inter-operable with the larger world which is basically Windows and software written for Windows.

    (FWIW, I don't fit into any of those general categories... I'm a Linux-primarily user... I work with Mac and can hack on it pretty good... I work with Windows because I have to. But when it comes to doing the things I want to do, Linux simply works better and safer for me.)
  • by Eponymous Crowbar ( 974055 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @12:30PM (#20719875)
    Apple took a risk with the iphone by releasing an expensive device with extra features that not everyone would consider essential. By taking the deal with AT&T, they probably reduced some of their financial risk. They also reduced their available market share since people may not be able or willing to switch to AT&T. I don't necessarily like their decision, but I don't think it was motivated entirely by corporate greed. As for the ipod, we all know the argument about controlling the end-user's experience in order to guarantee that everything works well together. Apple is extending that formula to the iphone. Like the ipod, there will be more and more ways to get around the limitations as time passes. It's cool to continue to call for the opening up of these devices because the payoff for a techie is huge, but it will take time. I don't think it will speed things along to resort to conspiracy theories or dismissal of Apple's motives in this case.
  • by Jeremy_Bee ( 1064620 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @12:33PM (#20719907)
    I find this article and the associated thread fascinating in that I am not a developer and until this moment, had no idea who Will Shipley was.

    Coming at it from that angle, I found him to be a childish potty-mouthed sort of fellow who seems to be crying "Sour Grapes" really loudly. I imagine that he has some kind of techie internet-based fame that allows him to write this kind of thing and come across as insightful? As an article on it's own however, discovered without reference to background or source, it reads like a bunch of juvenile whining.

    At best it seems only to state some very well-known "wrongs" and then just add a (mostly unspoken) OMG! at the end of each point.

    I am guessing that this article is really a developers expression of personal frustration, that a lot of folks here (also developers) can identify with and thus nod your heads in unison, but to the uninitiated it just reads like a bad rant.
  • by weston ( 16146 ) <> on Sunday September 23, 2007 @04:24PM (#20721697) Homepage
    But "vision" does. Shipley touches on this before he gets lost in some other details.

    A lot of commentators seemed to have missed this part of the article:

    I know Steve Jobs; he's actually amazingly like my old business partner Mike Matas. They both love closed systems, for a simple reason -- they both know they're smarter than anyone else on the planet, and they don't need anyone else mucking up their systems.

    A kinder way of phrasing this point of view might have been to say that Jobs probably thinks as much like an artist as a product developer: he's driven by an internal desire to realize his vision for the product, to give life to his aesthetics of function, form, and interaction, and he doesn't want to compromise with people whose aesthetics he doesn't know and trust, at least insofar as he doesn't have to in order to give the product life at all.

    This is a *very* distinct issue from greed. Both of these motives can lead to closed systems, and both of them can even be in play at once -- and either way, it ends up being somewhat antithetical to the hacker ethic, where a closed system is at a minimum a problem waiting to be solved (and more often as a wrong waiting to be righted. :)

    But it's important to see the difference between the two, because the kind of control regime that coalesces around a vision-driven aesthetic is different, and susceptible to catalysts for change that a profit-driven regime might not be.
  • by MacDork ( 560499 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @05:15PM (#20722013) Journal

    It could be argued that alternatives (some being less "harmful" to consumer) would actually be better at maximizing profits, than using lock-ins.

    it could be argued that you are not the ceo of apple and nor do you have to answer to shareholders.

    It could be that the CEO of Apple was quoted in Businessweek magazine [] saying almost exactly the same thing GP just said:

    Q: How did Apple recapture its innovative spark?
    A: I used to be the youngest guy in every meeting I was in, and now I'm usually the oldest. And the older I get, the more I'm convinced that motives make so much difference. HP's primary goal was to make great products. And our primary goal here is to make the world's best PCs -- not to be the biggest or the richest.

    We have a second goal, which is to always make a profit -- both to make some money but also so we can keep making those great products. For a time, those goals got flipped at Apple, and that subtle change made all the difference. When I got back, we had to make it a product company again.
  • by feijai ( 898706 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @08:31PM (#20723281)
    Three things:
    1. It's not nearly as dire as you describe. Apple had a 13% market share of a totally different market than today. In the '80s there were no commodity PCs. And 2U servers didn't count in the market share analysis back then, nor did PCs used for embedded or automated applications. Apple's market was, and is, brand-name workstations and home computers. Of that, they've got a fair bit more than 3%.
    2. You're looking into ancient history for trends, when you should be looking at recent developments. Apple's worldwide marketshare is double what it was just a few years ago.
    3. Apple is selling far more machines now than they ever did in the '80s: but the pool is just much much bigger. Hell, Apple's market cap is larger than Dell's is.
  • by cypherz ( 155664 ) * on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:20PM (#20723859)
    While I'll agree that Apple isn't perfect etc., and there have been some egregious mistakes on Apple's part etc., I'm starting to get tired of all these "Apple Sucks" articles, blog postings and internet comment rants. Why? Because most of the Apple Sucks stories, articles and whatnot are written just to get the page hits. The saying used to be "bad news sells". For the internet, computer and gadget intelligentsia, slamming Apple or pointing out a new Apple product's shortcomings sells.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!