On Technical Freedom and Crybaby Journalism

| Hidden Dimensions

“Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

We’ve all seen a lot of discussion about technical freedom lately as it relates to Apple, and it’s too bad that the arguments are, by insinuation, couched in the framework of political and personal freedom. Perhaps the most famous political statement about freedom comes from Benjamin Franklin: “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Mr. Franklin was talking about people, governments and cowardice.

Of course, if you can couch the Apple argument on your own terms by a subtle shift in context, you’ve already won the argument. That’s why the two sides of this argument seem irreconcilable: each side has its philosophical basis from which the ensuing logic flows. It’s hard to beat the logic if you accept the opponent’s underlying context.

Personal and political freedom have nothing to do with Apple and its products, something I’ll get into in a minute. Even personal freedom, carried to extremes, without discipline can be dangerous. Example:

I’m walking down a main street near the edge of Baghdad’s Green Zone. I have two Marines with automatic weapons and 40 mm grenande launchers escorting me. On a whim, I take an interest in an alleyway, and start to head towards it. One of the Marines tugs on my sleeve. “You really don’t want to go down that alley. Trust me.”

I scream at him, “You’re taking away my freedom! What are you, a control freak?”

Complete freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Who would want a police officer to have complete freedom? Sometimes those officers who believe they have complete freedom will Tazer a college student just for being unruly. We expect police officers to give up complete freedom for the sake of their responsibilities and professionalism.

The examples I’ve just given remind us that complete freedom, even on a personal and political level require perspective and discipline. That’s why I like Nietzsche’s quote at the top of this essay.

Apple and Freedom

Apple makes decisions about what’s best for its own customers based on a boatload of experience. Technical journalists, however, have a different agenda, and we must remember that.

I haven’t read a single article at any publication that has delved into what’s best for Apple customers. Instead, it’s all about me, me, me. Of course a few of those journalists believe that they are technically qualified to deal with the intricacies of their smartphones. If something goes wrong, they probably feel that their clout as writers combined with their experience working with high tech consumer products will get them out of their fix.

That kind of perspective is completely useless at Apple. Apple’s executives, managers, and engineers understand that the vast majority of their customers neither understand nor want to know anything about Objective-C, Cocoa Touch, or OpenGL ES. Those customers just want their phone to work, ring when a call comes in, and not incessantly drop a call. Smartphones add a lot of nice utilities, and those utilities should be reliable, secure, and respectful of the user’s privacy. That’s because the Digital Wallet is coming.

There’s another layer of context here, and that’s perceptions. Because most Apple customers are not deeply technical, nor can they just get on-line and blast Apple in an editorial, they have to deal with Apple, Apple customer support, and muddle through. The simpler the iPhone is to use and maintain, the happier the customer will be. That’s why the iPhone doesn’t come with one of those infamous Japanese user manuals: 300 pages of fine print that weighs more than the phone. Perceptions of simplicity, implying reliability, are the hallmark of Apple marketing.

Perceptions come into play as well with porn. The average Apple iPhone customer doesn’t know how to gauge how dangerous a porn app might be because they don’t have access to or an understanding of the source code. All they know is that their son is looking at porn, and they fear the worst coming from a predatory industry that also promotes other things that turn out bad for customers: be it fast food companies, shady home lenders or banks.

Journalists want to couch the argument based on their freedom and their technical ability to deal with the fallout from their actions. However, that’s a totally unrealistic approach for Apple engineering and marketing to take. It’s not the customer experience Apple is known for, and it’s no way to make money in an industry that that’s still in a Wild, Wild West phase.

Apple is a now a very successful company. It got there by understanding customer needs and perceptions. The Apple retail stores are a classic example of that understanding of what customers need and how they expect products to be presented to them. If Apple wanted to promote complete undisciplined buyer freedom, they would have modelled their stores on the (now defunct) CompUSA retail stores.

The Politics of Bitterness and Professionalism

When I was interviewed by German TV (ZDF) recently, the subject came up of political satire on the iPhone and the Pulitzer prize winning author, Mark Fiore, whose app was originally denied by Apple. The larger issue of the prudish and Victorian approach to sex in America came up and how Apple seemingly caves to Big Money interests by allowing, say, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Challenge but denies other erotic apps by small time developers. Here’s how I answered.

The call on all this has to do with judgment and professionalism. Sports Illustrated has a long history with its annual swimsuit issue, and no one (well hardly anyone) would suggest that the content constitutes even soft porn. The women, while scantily clad, are presented in a tasteful way by a professional, responsible organization. SI has earned the right to be on the iPhone.

The same cannot be said for every blogger, wannabe journalist, or developer who hasn’t demonstrated professionalism and responsibility. Whether the bitter, freedom-at-any-cost, developers like it or not, larger, more seasoned organizations know the limits. They understand the Nietzsche quote above. They’ve earned the right to be in the public’s eye. Not everyone else has.

Lots of small time bloggers and developers, however, believe that just because they can publish, they don’t have any responsibilities for their freedom whatsoever. And so the bitching carries on endlessly.

As in the case of Mark Fiore, his Pulitzer prize is a public acknowledgment that while his lampooning is sharp, his professionalism is commensurate. Not everyone meets that standard in Apple’s judgment. It’s not the first time, gasp, that a corporation in America has demanded judgment, discipline, and professionalism from its partners.

Back to the Freedom Fighters

I’ve argued here that all the kerfuffle surrounding Apple’s control over content on its phone is not related to the larger politics of personal, political freedom. If you want to fight that particular war, there are other venues.

I’ve argued that that Apple’s agenda for its customers is far different that the agenda of tech journalists who want to make a splash and conjure up lots of hits for their own sake. The Me generation.

Finally, I’ve argued that Apple has the right as a corporation to demand taste and professionalism from its partners, that is, developers, for the sake of the perceptions of Apple customers.

In that context, the obsession with absolute freedom and chaos plus the demand that Apple see all things the way some journalists demand that Apple see them just doesn’t make business sense. I don’t expect Apple to change its tune anytime soon, despite the bitching on the Internet. In any case, most of that fuss is unseen or disregarded by ordinary Apple customers who give their hard-earned money to Apple.

Comments

ampdis

Thank you.  Freedom is one of those words (like “monopoly”) that Tech writers have been abusing and misusing.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

John, you and others seem to want Apple to be immune from criticism. Not that it’s even possible or likely, but the moral high ground was lost when Steve Jobs called Adobe lazy.

We all know that Apple’s tight control of the platform has nothing to do with customer experience, porn, crashes, or any of that. It has to do with Apple believing that’s the best way for it to maximize revenues. Apple can’t say that, so it couches its decisions in absolute bullshit arguments which some fanboys accept and argue, and then we all just argue in battles of attrition far away from the main point. Meanwhile, if you just pick up a Nexus One and use it for a week, you’d know that on every one of the technical points Apple leverages to keep a tight grip, Apple is full of baloney. It doesn’t even come down to theoretical or academic arguments.

You could search the TMO archives and find where I first wished Apple nothing but grief for going down this path. It was probably when the App Store was announced with the approval system and lack of side-loading. That’s what they are on the receiving end of… a lot of grief. From the “just leave Brittney alone” pleas of Steve Jobs and some journalists, it sounds like their starting to feel it.

mactoid

The full “freedom of choice” happens when you make a buying decision.  iPhone or Android or Blackberry? The companies are very upfront about the limitations of their devices. I bought iPhone because of features, and Apple cust service, and its seamless integration with my Mac Computer. Do I now feel slighted cause there is no porn apps?  Hardly.

As far as I can tell, tech “journalists” (my apologies to the reporters at the NYT) need something to write about, so they cooked up this “freedom” tempest in a teapot to create hits to their blogs/websites.  Nothing more.

Intruder

Bosco, you’ve wished nothing but grief on Apple since forever it seems. You don’t like Apple. You don’t like Jobs. We get it.

Enjoy your Nexus One.

John Martellaro

Bosco: I hardly hold Apple immune from criticism, and that’s a whole different issue—as you know from reading my Hidden Dimensions column for the last three years.

ilikeimac

The beauty of capitalism is seen when the motives of profit and customer satisfaction become one. Apple makes money and satisfied customers for many of the same reasons. If they tried to make everyone happy, they’d most likely have neither.

skipaq

Not that John needs any help; but I’ve read some of his own criticisms of Apple. As for his arguments in this article it is well stated and probably one of the few that haven’t been full of baloney. You don’t have to agree; but surely what he says here is worthwhile.

As to the relative merits of Apple’s way of doing business and Google’s; well this is a freedom of choice issue. If every company did things the way Apple does, where is the innovation and choice. The same can be said for Google and the others. If Apple did it Google’s way, I guess that would make you happy enough to buy an iPhone.

The fact is those who buy iPhones will criticize Android phones. Those who buy Android phones will criticize iPhones. It comes down to choice. You like GM cars and I like Fords.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

John, but you seem bothered by this line of criticism, along the freedom angle. In this article, you also overlook something. Steve went to the WSJ and the NYT and pretty much told them how to run their businesses and what content formats they should publish. There is tremendous pushback on that front because he also disqualified the one unifying digital publishing format that they are comfortable with. He got their hopes up, raised their costs, and his 1 million magical iPad customers haven’t ponied up the premium/excessive subscription rents he said would be there. Nor will they. I figured it would take them one iPad-month to figure it out. So I’m of by a factor of 2 or so…

skipaq

Bosco, glad to hear that you were at this meeting with Steve and the others. Sure good to have it firsthand that Steve “pretty much told them how to run their businesses and?” Talk about baloney. Amazing, that Steve “disqualified the one unifying digital publishing format that they are comfortable with.”

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Within hours of Steve’s meeting with the WSJ editorial board, they posted an editorial suggesting that Apple was becoming the new Microsoft. And it wasn’t meant in a flattering way. Do the math.

And that technology is Flash, in case you missed it.

geoduck

Extremely well put.
John, I read your columns because of the excellent way you have of distilling the argument down to the salient points and discarding the cruft. Well done.

As far as what Apple is doing; I feel a lot of kinship with their choices. I do tech support and one if the things I have learned over the years is

“Do not give the customers what they ask for. Give them what they need.”

Over and over I run into people that think they know more about computers than they do and so they ask for the wrong thing. The customer is NOT always right. Apple understands that. Apple produces products that give most customers what they need. That a few tech writers and geeks chafe under the restrictions is a small price to pay for making MOST of their customers happy. My aunt is exceedingly non technical. She has no computer. She even is not comfortable typing on one of ours. However if the iPad is as good as it appears (it doesn’t arrive here for another week) I think she would use one. That’s Apple’s target, every grandmother and non techy person on the planet, not the Unix versed coder/journalists that complain about how ‘restrictive’ they are. If Apple succeeds at that they will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Nemo

There are some tech journalist who could and do garner Apple’s favor by being unabashedly pro Apple, John Martellaro is not among them.  I have read him for sometime now and know that on these pages, he has not hesitated to go after Apple with vigor, when he believed it to be wrong, and has on often on those occasion suffered, I think unfairly, the scorn of his readers for doing so.  Yet, if you read John, your are going to get his cogent, well written, and honest thoughts, even when you don’t like or agree with them, and that includes Apple, Inc.  So your charges that scurrilous at best and defamatory at worst.

Now, you can try to indict John with your latest theme, that is, everyone who disagrees with me is infringing my right to criticize Apple, but the record of Mr. Martellaro’s journalism proves beyond peradventure that you are full of it. 

As for Apple, it makes it money by offering the vast majority of its customers the best users’ experience when using its products as opposed to its competitors’ products, and the the success of Apple’s products in the market confirm that.  And given burgeoning revenues, gains market share, and profits reported in Apple’s financial reports, if that is grief, I am sure that Apple’s employees, fans, directors, and shareholders are ready for more of it, much more of it.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

So your charges that scurrilous at best and defamatory at worst.

Nemo, puh-lease. John was saying that the criticism is misplaced because Apple is acting out of concern for its customers. It’s just like Jobs’ parting shot to Tate asking Tate what Tate has done to improve the world other than bitch. That’s the response to complaints and criticisms? At the very least, the critics point to examples where things aren’t like Apple would want them and the things actually work great. Android has multitasking and it didn’t cause the Large Hadron Collider to destroy the universe. It has looser standards in its marketplace and allows users to side-load porn apps if they want, yet about 1/2 the people in line for iPhone or Android these days are fine with that. Some even have kids, ferchrissakes!! As Rentzsch linked at the end of his rant, an explosion of apps didn’t cause the wireless network to spontaneously collapse, as Jobs seriously hinted when he first introduced the iPhone.

Criticism is par for the course of being relevant. Take it in stride, deal with it constructively, refute it, whatever. But don’t bitch about it, because the day it stops is the day Apple no longer matters.

Blad_Rnr

@Brad,

“We all know that Apple?s tight control of the platform has nothing to do with customer experience, porn, crashes, or any of that.”

That’s the silliest sentence I have read concerning Apple. “We all know…” If the iPhone was only about profits there is no way in #@^ Apple would have sold 50M of them. No way. Yet you trivialize iPhone/iPod Touch sales. And probably 1M iPad sales.

John wrote a level-headed article that is correct on every point. Besides, you have no idea what it takes to run a $240 billion company. People’s livelihood’s are at stake. This is about Apple having the right to do as they please. Just like yesterday in Ted’s column, “Don’t like it? Don’t buy it.” Your rantings do nothing for the argument. Who cares what jobs said behind closed doors. I certainly don’t. These old school CEOs, just like their music industry compadres need to get out of the dark ages. Jobs was right about music sales and is probably right about printed media sales. Time will tell. But I would not bet against him.

And let’s get this right. Adobe is lazy. They cater to the PC market and treat Mac users as second-class citizens. Time after time after time. Jobs gets that and so do we Mac users. The history of this is legendary. THEY ARE LAZY. Where is the Flash app for ANY mobile device that isn’t choking because of lazy coding? And Jobs should just say, yes? To what? A resource-hogging plug-in? Flash on my MacBook Pro (three years old, 3 GBs of RAM) fires up my fans EVERY time I view a Flash video. Every time. Why is that Brad? Because Adobe is lazy when it comes to Flash outside of the Windows market.

You aren’t adding anything to this discussion and certainly aren’t convincing anyone otherwise. We get it: you don’t like Jobs/Apple.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Where is the Flash app for ANY mobile device that isn?t choking because of lazy coding?

Fruit Smash Organic for iPhone. You’ll have to check the App Store to see if Apple has deleted it yet.

Next?

How many of those 50M devices did Apple sell before it went over the cliff Draconian between February and April?

Substance

John, thanks for the concise, level-headed response to the situation.  You really have a knack for stepping out of your own shoes and writing about the issue from a big picture perspective, successfully capturing and relaying the motivations of all the players involved.  There’s few tech authors worth reading regularly, but I strongly feel that John is one of those elite few.

sflocal

We all know that Apple?s tight control of the platform has nothing to do with customer experience, porn, crashes, or any of that. It has to do with Apple believing that?s the best way for it to maximize revenues.

Bosco, your job as a Flash designer just reeks in bias towards any policy that Apple implements.

Apple’s tight control of their ecosystem has EVERYTHING to do with the customer experience and you very well know that.  Only anarchistic geeks raise a stink.  The millions of joe-consumers buy Apple products because the rest of the industry has been in a constant state of stagnation and frankly, we all got tired of the status-quo.

So get over yourself and that ego of yours.  Apple is doing what it believes is best for the consumer and they can do whatever they want with their product.  With you, it’s always irrelevant how many tens of millions of users are happy with what Apple is doing.  And if Apple is making serious $$ from happy consumers, well good for Apple!

Somehow you have developed a twisted reality in what is good for you must be what is good for everyone else and that is simply untrue.

Substance

John, you and others seem to want Apple to be immune from criticism. Not that it?s even possible or likely, but the moral high ground was lost when Steve Jobs called Adobe lazy.

And then there’s the infamous Bosco, who only sees things through his myopic point-of-view.  You see, the iPhone ecosystem doesn’t give him the flexibility he wants, and that’s cool, that’s why the market supports choice and he can go out and buy a Droid, a Nexus One, a Blackberry, or one of several other phones. 

However, the fact that the iPhone ecosystem does work for so many people clearly bothers him.  Since he’s so sure that Apple’s model is wrong for everyone, it’s odd that he has to come to an Apple-centric site to get attention by consistently raising the same issues instead of just siting back and waiting for Apple to fall on it’s own sword. 

So instead we get predictions of failure for Apple based on the fact that all consumers will adopt the same thinking as jaded developers like himself and give up on the iPhone ecosystem.  Suddenly issues ranging from Apple’s app store developer policies and refusal to support someone else’s monopoly technology (that BTW still doesn’t have a mobile-tailored version) will become more important to them than how easy it is to send pictures to parents or find the nearest post office.  Kind of like this:

How many of those 50M devices did Apple sell before it went over the cliff Draconian between February and April?

I’ll bet that at least 49 million of those device owners didn’t even notice what Apple did in those months, and of the remanaining 1 million less than half care.  As long as the iPhone gives them what they want, they’ll keep using it. 

P.S.  I bet that Apple sells their next 50 million iPhones faster than the first 50 million.

vasic

Larry Page (of Google) did a really classy thing yesterday:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/37236488

Android phones apparently have very poor battery life (I didn’t know that). So, Larry essentially blamed developers of third-party apps for such poor performance.

This epitomises the fundamental difference between Apple approach and Android approach. With Android, we give you the OS, you build the device, sell it to people and let them put whatever they want on it in whatever way the want. Just like MS with Windows, Google simple won’t bother owning up performance and stability issues.

Now, nobody here will argue that Apple isn’t in pursuit of profit here. However, that fundamental difference is, they pursue it by focusing on building a device/OS/UI/ecosystem that would ensure most appealing, stable and consistent user experience. Thus no multi-tasking (and when it comes, it will keep battery drain in check).

As for Flash, this seems to be Jobs’s personal war, and it’s affecting Apple (as well as hordes of Flash developers, such as our Bosco here). Who will win it? Hard to say, but seeing as Apple is the third largest company in the world (by market cap) and richest tech company (by cash warchest), it is hard to imagine Apple losing this war. Perhaps that is why Adobe is slowly hedging their bets by releasing a free HTML-5 add-on for DreamWeaver CS5.

The point needs to be made, though, that with all Adobe’s posturing, whining and complaining about Apple not allowing Flash on their mobile devices, we have yet to actually see Flash (the full version) on ANY other mobile device. So far, we only saw some YouTube videos of some beta versions for Android. Apparently, Adobe themselves still don’t think it’s ready for production.

vasic

Perhaps they are delaying the release of that Android mobile Flash, so that they could drum up some support in their fight against Apple, before people actually get to see how it works on mobile and how much trouble it ends up being. We need to remember, vast majority of Flash content online requires mouse-over functionality in order to even begin to work. Multi-touch interface simply CANNOT implement mouse-over emulation elegantly and intuitively. It just cannot be done without inventing some awkward “hold button and touch screen” combination in order to invoke the feature.

And how long is it going to take for all those content owners to re-engineer their Flash content for multi-touch interfaces? And what happens meanwhile? People just not bothering and going to HTML5-enabled pages.

mrmwebmax

+

....Apple?s tight control of the platform has nothing to do with customer experience, porn, crashes, or any of that. It has to do with Apple believing that?s the best way for it to maximize revenues.

On what planet are these concepts mutually exclusive? First of all, Apple is a company. They make money. That’s their job, else they would cease to exist. Believe it or not, every competitor of theirs also makes money. And just like Apple, every one of their competitors tries to maximize revenues

The difference is this: Apple pursues maximum revenues via providing the best customer experience. Not by selling products at the cheapest price. Not by cramming as many features into their products as possible. Instead, by creating the best customer service.

The two go hand-in-hand, and in Apple’s view, the best customer experience is an iPhone/Pod/Pad that only runs apps pre-approved by Apple, that doesn’t use Flash, and that uses apps coded to specific standards. As one of Apple’s customers (and a tech-savvy one at that), I have no trouble with this approach. I want my iPhone to just work. I’ll be first in line for the 4G when it comes out in June. And I may even get an iPad one day.

I’m typing this on a 24” 3.06GHz iMac. Best computer I’ve ever used. I like the all-in-one design and the whisper-quiet operation. It makes for a wonderful user experience (plus OS X of course). Sure, Apple could have crammed ten CPUs and the latest video cards from both NVIDIA and ATI into it, but then they’d need a whole bunch of fans and the whole thing would end up being louder than my G4 QuickSilver.

It’s never about features with Apple. It’s about the end-user experience. For the hard-core techies out there, you have the freedom to buy a Nexus One and a gaming PC that runs faster than the HAL 9000 and has enough fan-noise to drown out a space shuttle launch. Me? I don’t want that. You want it? Fine. I don’t.

I want the freedom to use an iMac that has no fan noise. I want the freedom to use an iPhone along with the freedom to install apps willy-nilly without the fear of the phone crashing (it’s my only phone), getting infected with viruses, or stealing my data (and yes, I have a banking app installed, so freedom from data theft fears is a big one on my list). I have a friend with two young daughters who both have iPod Touches, and I’m fairly sure she wants the freedom to let them install apps without running into porn.

As for Apple, I’m sure they want the freedom to run their app store the way they see fit. It’s not censorship, no more than is a Christian bookstore’s unwillingness to sell Playboy. It’s the freedom of a business to decide what they’re going to sell and how they’re going to sell it.

Likewise, Apple has the freedom to tell developers how to code apps if they want them considered for the App Store.

Given that the App-centric WWDC sold out in record time, thousands of developers seem perfectly content with this. Given that Apple can barely keep up with iPad demand, over a million consumers seem perfectly content with it. And given the 80+ million iPhone/Pod Touch users out there, it would seem that this whole “user experience” concept is working out pretty darn well.

Satisfied customers and maximized revenue go hand-in-hand. DUH.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

And how long is it going to take for all those content owners to re-engineer their Flash content for multi-touch interfaces? And what happens meanwhile? People just not bothering and going to HTML5-enabled pages.

5 minutes. JulesLT pointed out rightly that it depends on the app, but that link is an example that took an open source Tetris app and made it multi-touch playable in 5 minutes. For real.

I see a lot of protesting of my comments. I know I’ve struck a serious nerve. What they boil down to is that you guys believe that Apple does things better than everyone else. A fair belief. I don’t dispute your sincerity. In mobile phones, tablets, and everything else that’s interesting these days, I think that others can do it 1/2 as well as Apple and still do amazing stuff that will blow most people’s minds. Not that they don’t often exceed Apple, but I’ll give you that point to lower the temperature of the argument.

I am reminded of one of the most profound lessons of my life. Growing up, my Dad instilled in me the idea that you “don’t do it unless it’s worth doing well”. In grad school, one of my advisors turned that on it’s head as “don’t do it well unless it’s worth doing”. Wisdom, FTW!

Nemo

Bosco:  One of the skills that a trial lawyer must develop is the ability to read the jury while the case is being tried.  You’ve got to see when you’ve got the jury and when you’re losing them; you’ve got see whether your opponent is winning or losing the jury, and how each of them is responding to the presentation of the arguments and the evidence. 

Bosco, based on my review of the comments, you are, to not put too fine a point on it, getting your ass kicked.  You started off badly by attacking John Martellaro.  We know and trust his professionalism, its skill, its integrity.  I think that your cause is loss here, but any chance of recovering would have to start with apologizing for your scurrilous attack on John’s integrity.  After that you need to stop saying or implying that everyone who disagrees with you is either a liar, a fool, or an Apple bigot or all three, and generally show respect for your interlocutors.  And finally, you need to acknowledge that some of the opposing arguments have merit, and you need to address those arguments, rather than ignoring them or simply restating your position.

Now, I think that your cause here is irredeemably lost and that you will always lose, because you don’t have the abilities to:  (1) step outside of your self and see how others perceive what you’re saying and how you’re saying it, and (2) you don’t have the ability to even seem fair and balanced in presenting your position.  So stick to your day job, because as an advocate, you suck.

wilf53

Very well written, John. As for Bosco/Brad, he kind of illustrates your article in some ironic way. Myopic was a word used and yes, it is myopic as well as narrow-minded to view a company as Apple in stark black and white. ” We all know” that they are greedy bastards who do not care about me! Apple runs a busines, yes, but that isn’t the whole story and I think that Mr. Martellaro has some more insight into it than many others, having worked for the company. And he has had lots of critical articles based on that insight.

Freedom isn’t exactly what people often wants it to be today. It is a pity you don’t know Norwegian since I have used to say something about freedom I find a little difficult to translate. In Norwegian it goes like this: “Frihet er ikke det samme som ? ta seg friheter”.
Freedom is not the same as taking liberties? Can you say that? Well, what it means is what the article is taking up. Freedom doesn’t mean that everything goes. Freedom under responsibility, that is the difficult act.

One could say that the same goes for criticism. To be critical doesn’t mean the same as being all against. It doesn’t mean that one has to denounce something completely, drag it into the mud, being cynical, ironic, sarcastic, whatever. Criticism might be to point out weak spots, for instance, but it doesn’t mean that you judge whatever is the aim for your criticism, for being weak.

Seems to me that this Bosco is doing the latter. Apple is not entirely good to him. Ergo; Apple is bad. Full stop.

That is to live with over-simplified views in a complex world.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nemo, I think of myself as more of a tour guide than a trial lawyer. The world actually needs more tour guides.

@wilf53… Great thoughts on criticism. Now apply to Steve Jobs’ discussions of Flash. Then consider your wise thoughts on freedom and criticism in the context of a war. Because that is what Steve Jobs started, a war, nothing less.

daddy

Folks - try this:  Go to any of Bosco’s posts and run your cursor over to the gear on the right.  Click for the dropdown menu.  Select “Ignore member.”

Guess what?  You’ve consigned him and his belligerent attitude to oblivion! 

If you don’t want to do that, at least don’t feed him with well-reasoned arguments.  Remember that old saw:  “Don’t confuse me with facts; my mind’s already made up.”

Too bad the comments system doesn’t tell posters how many “ignores” they’ve accumulated.  A feedback system would surely do wonders.

wilf53

Good tip, daddy:) I followed your advice!

I know the kind from among loads of anonymous commenters on newspapers’ sites - which I try avoid reading; the commenters, that is.

I have to remember that one: ?Don?t confuse me with facts; my mind?s already made up.?

Very good, indeed:)

rabber

And just like Apple, every one of their competitors tries to maximize revenues

I do not mean to be overly picky, but the above statement is not correct. Apple certainly makes very little effort to maximize revenues. Apple maximizes profits. They are quite different. Some of Apple’s competitors try to maximize revenue, but, aside from some short term attempts to gain market share, most companies shoot for maximizing profits. That may be what you intended to say - not sure.

With regard to John’s article, I agree that he has made some very cogent arguments here and, for the most part, I agree with him.

In my experience Apple makes every effort to provide the best user experience for their customers. Why? To maximize their profits. Int eh world of marketing, this is their primary competitive differentiator. Unlike Google and Microsoft, who try to provide software that is good enough for the user and push to allow their partners and customers a tremendous amount of freedom to do what they want with the software, Apple makes both the hardware and the software. They are truly fanatical in their efforts to control that user experience. This is not likely to change, regardless of the arguments made by developers like Bosco. There are more than enough developers who are willing to live with Apple’s restraints. Those who choose not to develop for the iPhone OS are small enough.

I do expect there to be some incredible applications for the Android that never make it to the iPhone. There are some great programs for Windows that will never make it to the Mac. That does not mean I will run out and purchase a PC - I live with those limitations. If I absolutely need to run that Windows program, I can find a way around it. If the fantastic Android app never makes it to the iPhone, I will find a way to to live without it or possibly change my phone.

I know how often Flash crashes my browser of choice - more so now for some silly reason. While I wish that SJ did not launch a crusade against Adobe and Flash, I would prefer not to have it on my iPhone. Even more, I would prefer that the web adopt an alternative that doesn’t crash as often, doesn’t overheat my computer and doesn’t slow it down so much. I recall the uproar when SJ eliminated the floppy - I see this as something very similar. The difference is that the floppy was being promoted by a variety of companies and no one company was going to be impacted tremendously. Here, Adobe will be. They have every right to fight Apple, but in the end they will lose. In any case, I have yet to be able to buy a phone that runs flash, so why is Adobe screaming about Apple preventing them from bringing Flash to the mobile world? Once they have demonstrated a working production version of Flash in a production phone, then they can start complaining. Until then, they should go away.

rjackb

Great article, as usual. You really distilled the facts well.

So, are you and your colleague Ted duking it out or what? You two seem to be on opposite sides of the fence. But, that’s a good thing since it (hopefully) promotes intelligent discussion.

PSMacintosh

John, I intently read all your posts, throughly enjoy them, and agree with most of them.
This post, however, is one of your biggest loads of BS in a long time.


“Apple makes decisions about what?s best for its own customers…..”

I think it is more likely to assume that Apple makes its decisions based on what it thinks is “good for Apple.”

Yes, making its customers happy is good for Apple.  And it is ultimately necessary for Apple that it have a sufficient percentage of happy customers, but I’m not convinced that Apple really:
(1) knows what is in the best interests of its users, or
(2) cares that much about its customers best interests, or
(3) makes its decisions primarially based upon its customers best interests.

I’d much rather have Apple be a company that LET’S ME DECIDE FOR MYSELF what is or isn’t in my best interests.
To decide how, where, and when I want to use the product I purchase from them.
To decide what applications I want to make of the product.
To decide what additional programs (appls) I want to purchase and add to MY machine.  And WHO I want to buy those programs from.
In other words, I want the benefit of competition in the production of programs.  I want to make my own comparisons and decisions about which program meets my needs because I ACTUALLY KNOW MY OWN NEEDS. Apple can only guess at my best interests, even assuming that they really care to do so.

I just want Apple to make good tools/products.
I’d prefer those tools to make nicely with all the other tools in my toolbox, not have proprietary parts and weird sizes that don’t fit with anything else.

You’re describing Apple similar to how many liberals like to think that “government” should be—the all-seeing, all-knowing eye—BIG GOVERNMENT that knows best what my best interests are, better than I do myself, and should act to protect me from myself (and from the lowest common denominator).

That is NOT what I want or expect out of a computer/telephone company.


Your article starts with many subjective assumptions and premises.
“The simpler the iPhone is to use and maintain, the happier the customer will be.” 
Really? Simple is it!?!
How about being more powerful, better connected, speedier, more able to do more things that we really value and need to do.

“That?s why the iPhone doesn?t come with one of those infamous Japanese user manuals…..” 
So that’s why, to give the perception of simplicity and therefore reliability.
How about they cut the time, cost, and packaging?

In the end, your article just propagandizes your own philosophical belief about how Apple should be/is towards us, end users.

I don’t happen to agree with your views. 
Therefore, I welcome and appreciate the bitchings and moanings of those journalists (or whatever) who criticize Apple for its narrow proprietarianism.

To my thinking, it was millions of Apple VOLUNTEERS (end users who selflessly contributed to each other’s usage of their Macs) who built Apple up and helped it to survive and succeed (in spite of its erring steps).

However, Apple has been endlessly ditching and disowning its past community of tireless workers (and informed critics) and thinking that it knows best for the world without their prior input.

Apple now is more about shaping us to fit into its mold, rather than we taking Apple’s products and shaping them to fit our mold.

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