Death Knell #56: Apple’s Closed System Doomed to Die

Friends, we are gathered here today not to mourn the life that was Apple, but to celebrate it. OK, technically, Apple is still alive, but tech journalist Paul Hochman let us know on Monday that it’s only a matter of time, that Apple simply must fail.

Indeed, Apple simply has no choice in the matter because Apple’s system is closed. Moreover, he argued, all closed systems must fail, ipso facto, Apple will also fail.

The end. Proven without a shadow of a doubt, Apple is among the walking, talking, massively profitable, swiftly growing corporate dead.

I guess that means we should start wrapping up operations at The Mac Observer, and certainly lock down this silly Apple Death Knell Counter thingy.

[Note to self: Shape up resume for finding work covering some open system, probably Microsoft. Oh, and be thinking of ways to kiss and make up with Paul Thurrot and Rob Enderle, since they’ve been right all along.]

Apple Death KnellWait, what? You want some more information about this latest prognostication of Apple’s impending doom? Fine. It’s not like I’ll have anything better to do once Apple joins the Coelophysis in the ignominy of exstinction, right? I suppose I might as well eke out a proper column on the subject while I can still ride Apple’s coattails.

OK, for old time’s sake, here we go:

Mr. Hochman is a tech journalist who often appears on NBC’s The Today Show. On Monday, he spoke at the Forward with Ford Futuring and Trends Conference, which is a sort of showcase event that pitches some of Ford’s technology, concepts, and technologies to the car industry, the press, etc.

According to Ford itself, the conference is “An interactive immersion into how Ford’s innovations, technologies and philosophies, in alignment with top consumer influences and needs, are shaping our world of tomorrow. Several major thought leaders and experts – Malcolm Gladwell, Ed Begley Jr. and Joel Garreau, to name a few – will help shed light on how Ford’s vehicles and technologies are linked to these significant global trends. The following materials support the content and Ford experts profiled in each trend session.”

In other words, like the “Conference” part of “Macworld Conference & Expo,” much of Ford’s event consists of various industry experts and pundits talking to attendees about various aspects of Ford and its future technologies.

Mr. Hochman was one of those experts, and his talk today he focused on how Ford’s open approach to MyTouch and SYNC AppLink is far superior to the closed system that GM has implemented for its own in-car gadget connectivity.

“General Motors has a closed system. Essentially, it bolts a phone into the car,” he said during his speech, according to PocketLint. That’s bad (an opinion I personally agree with), while Ford making their system open is good (ditto, that’s cool).

MyTouch and its companion SYNC AppLink allow users to tie their phones and digitial media devices into their car. SYNC AppLink allows users to run apps from their devices (limited to Pandora, Stitcher, and OpenBeak for now) on a display inside the car, which is super cool, and it currently supports Android, iOS, and BlackBerry OS. Surprisingly, there is no Windows Phone 7 support yet, but that’s neither here nor there.

MyTouch further allows drivers to play media through their iPods and iPhones, Zunes, Windows Phone and Windows Vista devices, and a variety of MP3 players. There’s a lot more to MyTouch, and most of it is pretty slick.

But, Mr. Hochman apparently needed a broader comparison for his audience to understand because he offered another exampe of a closed system like GM’s that is also doomed to fail, and that is, of course, Apple.

“Apple’s in big trouble,” he said. “They’re sitting on piles of cash, but they are sitting on a closed system. In biology, in history, a closed system never survives.”

Never. Survives. That’s pretty open and shut, right?

Oh sure, nitpickers might point out that Ford itself supports Apple’s closed system, making it not quite entirely “closed.” Yeah, and other pedants are likely to point out that Apple allowing third party developers to make software for iOS devices is another example of it not being “closed.”

And of course, the real rules lawyers out there will say that the phenomenal growth of Apple’s iOS empire shows many consumers have embraced Apple’s Whole Widget closed system, and that on their mobile devices, “awesome” trumps “cheap piece of crap.”

But they’re all wrong. Mr. Hochman explained it ever so simply for us. Closed. System. Never. Survives.

So, sell your stock, dump your Apple products. It’s in the bag, folks. Apple is doomed to fail.

Surely the 56th time’s the charm, right?