To all tech pundits, open source zealots, and nerds who care about mobile software a bit too much:
All of the 3 major mobile platforms are closed.
There I said it. Now deal with the consequences.
As a developer I say this with certainty because even though I could download the source code to Android or MeeGo, it’s not like I can just pull down Android and load it up on my phone out of the box like you can with say Ubuntu or any other Linux distro.
What about jailbreaking you say? I could root my phone and then load up somebody’s sweet Android ROM and so I’m totally wrong right? Right?
Well then, riddle me this Batman, why should I have to jailbreak or root my phone to load up your “truly open” system? Perhaps because Google makes billions of dollars licensing Google software to companies like Samsung and Sony, both of which who have more interest in selling new hardware than doing software updates for older models.
So, in my estimation, my Android phone is really to me not a whole lot more open than my old iPhone. Seems about the same amount of effort to “open up” either one.
This Is Not A Bad Thing….
I think this is actually a good thing. Freedom is a nice concept, but so are products that work. Open platforms usually don’t and probably shouldn’t win. Open gives us lousy standards by committee usually and the bigger the project, the more “openness” seems to stifle progress. (See Java 7 for details…)
In life a lot of things aren’t open and basically 99.99% of people don’t care. My fridge is not an open system. Neither is my car. Neither are my shoes. My table is not an open system.
Apple is not the bad guy for having a closed system. In fact, it seems to be working out pretty well for both consumers and developers alike.
Windows is not an open system.
Google is not an open system.
Facebook is not an open system.
Most things we use are not open at all and we still use them.
Heck, most restaurants don’t publish their food recipes. Coke and KFC are both examples of highly “closed products”.
At the end of the day most people, even software nerds, are happy to trade openness for functionality if they see enough value in the product. By most accounts this is a quite sensible decision.
What If Apple Changes The Rules Again?
Well, sorry to say it, but they are Apple’s rules on Apple’s store for software built on Apple frameworks for an operating system built by Apple. Which part did you build exactly?
If you are that upset, go ahead and build your own AppStore for iOS, jailbreak devices for people and get them to use your AppStore and software. This is not impossible by any means.
Actually, if you are going to do that, you should also write your own app frameworks that aren’t tainted by Apple’s closed ecosystem. Wait, while you’re at it, why not just dev for Android?
Why are nerds so upset whenever Apple makes these changes?
Apple makes an inherent deal with customers who buy their products - they will work great out of the box.
Whenever Apple makes a new product or service, that same principle apples. If this pisses off media or developers or people who are super concerned with software freedom, fine.
Stop buying Apple products then.
Stop writing software for iOS.
Stop writing about Apple.
Mostly, stop shouting that Apple is evil because they aren’t “open”. This isn’t politics and nobody cares.
P.S. I unpack more ideas in Creative Genius