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Ballmer Pleads For Openness To Compete With Apple 532

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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  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:54AM (#26940717) Homepage Journal

    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 the sugar that moves hardware. Choice in software is antithetical to their existence, much more than it is to Microsoft.

  • by TooLazyToLogon ( 248807 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:00AM (#26940755)

    Apple's strict control is what makes so user friendly. Forcing developers to work with in strict guide lines keeps the quality of the software up there, but limits the amount of software available. Apple's control extends to the hardware. Even their BIOS is proprietary. By controlling the hardware everything works. Microsoft can only dream of having this kind of control over their product. Opening Apple's products will only degrade them.

  • Exactly... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mario_grgic ( 515333 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:08AM (#26940809)

    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:Not so much... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AppleOSuX ( 1080499 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:11AM (#26940827)

    OK, but you're saying the same thing that I am.

    If Apple chose to make an OS that ran on IBM's hardware then they wouldn't have lost.

  • Re:Not so much... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert@slashdot.fi ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:16AM (#26940857) Homepage

    You would think that it would only be good business sense to not get locked in to a single vendor who doesn't give a shit about interoperability...
    But look how many businesses have become locked in to MS products, and many other proprietary lockin products. Businesses do stupid things, and i wouldn't be surprised to see plenty get locked in to Apple too.

  • Re:you know (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert@slashdot.fi ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:27AM (#26940915) Homepage

    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.

  • Re:Not so much... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pohl ( 872 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:37AM (#26940981) Homepage

    That's a pretty big "if", given that the operating system that Apple chose to make had hardware requirements not ubiquitous on IBM PCs of the same era, making their hypothetical victory a bunch of pipe smoke.

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

    by msuarezalvarez ( 667058 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @12:52PM (#26941515)

    especially if you need file format compatibility

    Word has file format compatibility with itself only if you never upgrade it, and if all the people youneed to share documents with have the same version.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Trillan ( 597339 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @01:51PM (#26941981) Homepage Journal

    No, Firefox won't be authorized because it allows application behavior to be modified via downloads (makes it impossible to evaluate the program as a whole) and it runs bytecode through an interpret other than Apple's (which Apple considers, rightly or wrongly, a security problem).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 21, 2009 @04:23PM (#26943189)

    > The lost productivity costs in migrating files, reformatting, relearning, working around
    > bugs and new features, etc. will *far* outweigh whatever short term benefits there
    > might be in software licensing costs.

    You forgot about one thing in your equation. Add in the costs (both monetary and in lost productivity) of an audit, compliance, and settlement, when the BSA is set upon you by a disgruntled ex-employee; and the pendulum swings pretty heavily back in the direction of purging yourself of the beast of redmond... especially when said ex-employee was in charge of software purchasing and licensing and one of the reasons he was let go was that he'd gotten pretty sloppy in his record keeping.

    Because of the costs of just such an incident; the company I work at has orders from the CEO to be microsoft-free by summer, and free-software-only by the end of the year. The only exception is the graphics department; who get to keep their Macs and Adobe suite.

  • Re:Not so much... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @05:18PM (#26943719)

    I don't see how their a "small niche" as a company they rank 6th (AFIK) in computer sales with about 6% of the TOTAL yearly sales. The only companies that sell more are the guys like Dell, HP, and Acer... and the margin is shrinking.

    Apple is the largest digital media store on the web on top of sales of hardware. The only real thing going against them is that the PC market is so vastly staggeringly big. All the big top ten companies represent only 30% of PCs sold! Like 11-50 is the next 30% and everybody else is 30% of the market! And ALL those companies ONLY sell Windows.

    I never understood why Apple hasn't put some feelers out to the Linux crowd. There's a lot of hardware out there now that's not going to be thrown out just because people buy Macs. Apple should be making things like Quicktime formats supported... Apple needs a big #3 to crack the market, so that PC OEMS will crack the Microsoft monopoly for them. Apple's mistake in the 80's was thinking "they" were competing against everybody else ... if the Commodore, Tandy, TI, & Atari had spent some time working together they could have kept some turf on the home front. Apple need somebody else standing with them to show they're not just a "dying" competitor to the Microsoft Man.

    For example in the mobile front, Apple should be extending a hand to Palm, Google and Rim. They should work on some level of service sharing or common implementation for the phone companies/software vendors. Not necessarily that consumers would see, but that businesses would see the ease in supporting multiple versions. Three's no room for another Microsoft... people won't allow it to happen again. People see Apple going after the "one ring" and they are turned off by it on the spot.

  • by Draek ( 916851 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @08:33PM (#26945103)

    Interesting how despite having the lion's share of online music sales and having their CEO being the largest individual shareholder and member of the board of directors of Disney corp, Apple took so long in getting the DRM off their store. Took 'em even longer than Amazon, funny that.

    And the rest of your post can be summed up as: "Apple makes really cool products, so STFU", which is kind of a non sequitur considering we're talking about their openness (or lack thereof) and not the alleged quality of their products.

    About the only point you made worth anything is about Xcode, but considering even Microsoft, which holds a practical monopoly over the PC market, gives away their dev tools in a convenient ISO on their own website for free, it could be easily argued that they didn't have a choice in the matter.

  • Re:Not so much... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StuartHankins ( 1020819 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @02:14AM (#26946723)
    For your edification...

    Dr. John G. Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz developed the BASIC language at Dartmouth in 1964. BASIC stood for "Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code". Their objective: to create a simplified computer language for teaching students how to program. Gates and Allen recognized that the compact design of BASIC made it ideal for the limitations of the first personal computers, which had extremely restricted memory and processing power.

    They ported an existing language, written by others, something like 11 years after it was invented. The newsworthy part of it is that it was done for the Altair, a computer within the grasp of many hobbyists of the time.

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