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Apple's iPad is a sad, sad thing.

Eve­r­y­thing I wi­ll say he­re was pro­ba­bly be­tter said by Ma­rk Pil­grim <h­ttp://­di­vein­to­ma­rk.or­g/ar­chi­ve­s/2010/01/29/­ti­nke­rer­s-­sun­se­t> but what the he­ck, le­t's gi­ve it a sho­t.

He­re's wha­t's wrong wi­th the iPa­d: it su­cks for me.

Be­fo­re an­yo­ne sa­ys "do­n't buy it then!" I'­ll say it firs­t: I do­n't in­tend to buy one.

I thi­nk the­re is a pla­ce for iPa­ds and it would go agains most of my be­lie­fs to say it should­n't exis­t, but I al­so ex­pect it to make our world poore­r, if it's po­pu­lar enou­gh.

Yes it's hos­ti­le to ti­nke­rin­g. Ye­s, to read about tha­t, see Ma­rk Pil­gri­m's arti­cle, he's a mu­ch be­tter wri­ter than I.

I on­ce pos­ted the READ­ME fi­le for a pie­ce of so­ftwa­re ca­lled Atlas­t. It said things like "make eve­r­y­thing pro­gra­m­ma­ble" and "[It is] far be­tter to in­vest the effort up front to crea­te a pro­duct fle­xi­ble enou­gh to be adap­ted at wi­ll, by its user­s, to their im­me­dia­te nee­d­s."

The iPad and most other Apple pro­duc­ts are the an­ti­the­sis of tha­t. They are pro­duc­ts meant to be exac­tly as they are, and tha­t's all they are goint to be. If you want to chan­ge the way it ac­ts, you need to pay and be sub­ject of Apple's whi­m, or "break in­to" your own de­vi­ce.

That hur­ts me. I see peo­ple gi­ve up even the po­s­si­bi­li­ty of chan­ging what a (le­t's say it) pre­tty, use­fu­l, po­wer­ful de­vi­ce is ca­pa­ble of, just be­cau­se they do­n't what that free­do­m. I can un­ders­tand that fro­m, sa­y, a us­ed car sa­les­man, or whate­ve­r, so­meo­ne wi­thout any in­cli­na­tion for that cra­ft.

But I see freaking pro­gra­m­mers bu­ying apple ki­t. And I see them ha­ppy wi­th their iPho­nes and iPo­ds and (soon, su­re­l­y) iPa­d­s, bu­ying apps from the on­ly sour­ce ena­bled to se­ll the­m, bu­ying the apps that are allo­wed by a sin­gle par­ty, that de­ci­des, he­y, this app? you wo­n't need it!

I see them and I say to mysel­f, du­de, that thing you hold in your hand is mo­re po­wer­ful than an­y­thing we had 10 years ago, the­re must be so­me­thing cool you could do wi­th it that noone el­se is doin­g.

Wha­t's the vi­sion a pro­gra­m­mer has of his fu­tu­re if he en­dor­ses Apple's clo­sed ki­t? A fu­tu­re whe­re he can pro­gram so­me­thing on­ly if Apple appro­ve­s? A fu­tu­re whe­re a "rea­l" com­pu­ter is a SDK for the things "real peo­ple" use in their eve­r­y­day li­fe­s?

What is wrong wi­th you? What ha­ppe­ned to you? Are you now the kind of guy tha­t's just ha­ppy wi­th what he's gi­ven? Are you now a freaking uti­li­ta­rian? Are you old no­w?

Ha­ve you no­ti­ced the trend in Apple's new pro­duc­ts is to­war­ds le­ss con­trol by the use­r? First it was just handhel­d­s, now the­re's a ta­ble­t. What was the last new in­te­res­ting Apple pro­duct that was­n't lo­cked up?

He­re they had a de­vi­ce whi­ch could ha­ve OSX or Ipho­ne OS, and they went wi­th Ipho­ne OS. The­re is a rea­son for tha­t: it makes them mo­re mo­ne­y.

For OS­X, they make mo­ney of the har­dwa­re, the OS upgra­des, and so­me app­s. On the iPa­d, they make mo­ney eve­ry ti­me you buy any app, eve­ry ti­me you buy a book to read in it, eve­ry ti­me you use 3G wi­th the pre­paid plan, and I am su­re they are going to find other wa­ys too.

And wha­t's the key to making mo­ney that wa­y? Con­tro­l. If they had no ex­clu­si­ve con­trol of the App sto­re, they lo­se a sour­ce of re­ve­nue. If they allo­wed for ea­sy de­ve­lo­p­ment of ho­bby app­s, they would lo­se re­ve­nue. If they could let you re­pla­ce the freaking ba­tte­r­y, they would lo­se re­ve­nue.

And if the­re's one thing com­pa­nies ha­te is lo­sing re­ve­nue. Apple saw two pa­ths ahea­d, one lea­ding to hu­ge mo­ne­y, the other to just big mo­ne­y. They ha­ve taken the hu­ge mo­ney pa­th, and it's wo­rking for the­m. They are not going ba­ck.

If eve­r­yo­ne goes along for the ri­de, it wi­ll be a sad thin­g.

Michael Foord / 2010-02-03 12:43:

I don't think revenue is the primary driving factor in keeping the App Store locked - I'm pretty sure the main motivation is to have control over what is released (no private API usage, no malware, minimal breaking of UI guidelines, etc). Deride it if you will - but it is a big part in the massive iPhone success.

Above all developers want people to *use* what they create. The hundreds of thousands of developers writing code for the iPhone do it not because they have sold out or settled for less, but because what they create will be used.

Roberto Alsina / 2010-02-03 14:20:

What happens when Apple adds a feature to the iphone OS, and suddenly a whole category of apps will not ever get another version approved because it now is in conflict with the guidelines?

Well, then those developers will be older and wiser about supporting a system where another company tells them what they can and cannot sell or even give away. And it will be too late for them.

If apple wanted "no private API usage, no malware, minimal breaking of UI guidelines", it's trivial: create a non-mandatory apple store. Make the user have to jump hoops to install from other sources. Void the warranty. Offer a "restore to factory+approved apps" switch. Disincentivate non-approved apps, instead of forbidding them!

Give a *choice* to have a fucked-up phone, if the user is willing! That is the cost of freedom: freedom to fuck up on your own.

Jim Deville / 2010-02-04 04:23:

Don't they already have that with jailbreaking?

Bård Aase / 2010-02-04 08:11:

Sort of, but then there would be no reason to fight the jailbreaking in every subsequent release of the iPhone OS

Michael Foord / 2010-02-03 12:45:

For what it's worth I really dislike the locked down app store and in particular some of the *specific* policies Apple seems to act on. *However*, I suspect that the locked down nature of the app store is part of the reason that is so successful. I think there is an *enormous* amount for developers of all kinds to learn about what consumers really want, and how they really use computers, from the iPhone and what will become the iPad stories. I'm afraid that rants like this indicate that many developers are *completely* missing what is there to be learned.

Roberto Alsina / 2010-02-03 14:25:

I would be delighted to publish apps for ipad or whatever if I wasn't subjected to approval by a third party. So no.

Michael Foord / 2010-02-03 22:21:

You're stilling missing my point. :-) It isn't about what you as a developer want, but the experience Apple is able to bring through the control they exert is obviously striking a chord with what consumers want. Fine if you don't want to give up that freedom, I agree with you of course, but us geeks have not so far been capable of producing user experiences (in terms of usable software and operating systems) that people really enjoy using. That is the challenge ahead of us and the lesson to be learned.

Roberto Alsina / 2010-02-03 23:12:

I don't expect IPhone OS is written by marketing specialists, but I get it. That's why I say it's sad "us geeks" are buying these things.

Jim Deville / 2010-02-04 04:23:

I do find it interesting that there aren't any real development choices on the iPhone or (presumably) iPad.

lucio / 2010-02-04 00:57:

thats why wap walled gardens were so good, they were controlled by the owners. oh, wait.

open/closed has nothing to do with how good/bad it is.

lucio / 2010-02-03 15:14:

i saw the palm ecosystem grow out of nothing last century, it did not need to be closed to get the attention of everyone and be successful for free and paid apps. So dont tell me that you need a closed device to be successful.

Roberto Alsina / 2010-02-03 15:23:

a) You also saw it become nothing again, didn't you? ;-)

b) Who is telling you that? I am however telling you that Apple's closed ecosystem is very succesful.

lucio / 2010-02-03 17:55:

a) yes i did. like the apple II, or os9, or commodore, or DOS games.

b) you are not the one saying it, but let me quote from above: "*However*, I suspect that the locked down nature of the app store is part of the reason that is so successful.".

Christophe / 2010-02-03 18:38:

I completely agree with your article and I'm depressed to see people who like free softwares (as in free speech) interested by this piece of locked hardware.
I really don't understand them.


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