The Open vs. Close Narrative

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An interesting piece by Watts Martin at Coyote Tracks on the perceived closed nature of Apple. Two particularly interesting points:

If there’s something I could do with OS X 10.6 that I can’t do with OS X 10.8, I haven’t found it yet. My software all still works. The Unix shell is still there. AppleScript is still there. I can still use utilities like LaunchBar and Keyboard Maestro that are so absurdly powerful that I giggle like a Japanese schoolgirl when some yoyo spouts off with the old “Macs are just toys” trope. While iOS is locked down by comparison—and there are some things that definitely do need to be opened up with respect to inter-application communication—an iOS device is an application console.

Apple does make content decisions that at various points have seemed anti-competitive, puritanical, politically correct, strangely prissy or just plain baffling. So does Google, and if people buy Windows Phone in enough numbers for it to matter, so will Microsoft. And in cases involving content rather than applications, at the least, it won’t matter that much, because Apple, Google and Microsoft won’t be your exclusive content providers. (On iOS, I can buy from ComiXology directly, I can load DRM-Free EPUBs into iBooks by merely clicking on a link in Safari, and so on.)

The debate about both Apple’s business practices as well as its restrictions on content warrant a more serious look. It may even warrant a collection of essays pro and con. I think I see a book proposal in my future.

By the way, a thanks to John Gruber over at Daring Fireball for this find.

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