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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wil Shipley wakes up to Apple lock-in

Delicious Monster author Wil Shipley wakes up to what I've been complaining about for quite some time now:
The iPhone is a closed system, like the iPods before it, so third parties can only develop software for it if they are EXTREMELY close to Apple. This is an incredibly frightening trend. 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.

On iPods, Airports, Apple TVs, and now iPhones, Apple wants every app perfect. Which is nice, in theory. In practice, it means innovation only happens at Apple's pace. The marketplace of ideas is much smaller, and the devices are much poorer because of it. (Example: Why can't I stream music from my iPhone or iPod touch to my Airport Express?)

[With] the latest iPods Apple [have] gone a step further, and disabled some docking stations that don't have a special chip in them provided by Apple; forcing customers to use only Apple-approved accessories. Apple's emulating the most pernicious qualities of Nintendo and the Microsoft XBox -- you pay us a tax or you don't work with our systems.

Apple's "approval" just comes from Apple getting a cut. It's a measure of greed, not quality. We're not talking about THX-certification here, we're talking about extortion. This kind of lock-in seems very appealing for the company doing the locking early on, but it always, ALWAYS ends up biting the company in the butt.

Then we come to ringtones. Every phone I've owned in the last ten years has allowed to make my own ringtones. But since Apple is so close to the record companies, and they are already so grumpy with Apple, Apple did a deal that benefits record companies and Apple. Not artists, certainly not consumers.

A million customers don't get to do something cool with their iPhones. Because of greed.

Now we see that iPod owners who upgrade to a newer iPod must re-buy the games they've already bought, because the new iPods are incompatible with the old. No credit given for having already bought an identical game.

Steve ... give up on trying to control everything. It's only going to keep hurting Apple, more and more, to control content and hardware and software. It's going to make them into the kind of mega-monopoly that we always, ALWAYS end up hating. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. 100% of the time.

Apple should license FairPlay, or allow iPods to play PlaysForSure music. Either one. Basically, Apple should allow other music stores to sell DRM'ed music that works on iPods and iPhones.
Wil, welcome to the party. I'm saddened it took you years and several Apple product release waves and strategy moves to agree that the company is engaged in lock-in at the expense of consumers, but whatever. Here you are.

I'd like to reference again my recent comments about Apple and what should be a very damaging antitrust inquiry if there's any justice in the world. This isn't about "anti-Apple." It's about "pro-consumer." Some don't get this, but people matter more than corporations.

BTW, even John Gruber is seeing this issue pretty clearly now, at least with regards to ringtones:
Faced with the choice between doing what’s right for customers or charging them money for something they shouldn’t need to pay for, Apple chose the latter. There is no middle ground. And any business that hinges on your customers “not knowing any better” is a bad business.
Thanks Jerry.

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