Don’t Be Fooled, It Isn’t a Walled Garden Its a Prison

by James R. Stoup Sep 29, 2008

Ok, here it is: Apple shuts the door on the sale of unauthorized iPhone applications. This story bothered me quite a bit when I first read it and the more I think about it, the more it bothers me. The gist of Apple's argument for regulating the App Store has always been that they have high standards and if you want to buy something from their store then you have to meet their criteria. Now, that criteria might be written in invisible ink on the side of a unicorn and thus subject to change at any moment, however that was the stated reason. Whether or not you like it or believe it, well, that isn't up for debate at the moment. The point is that if you want to download or purchase something from Apple's store of officially approved software, then it has to meet certain criteria.

This was a great argument as long as they only controlled that one sales channel. However now they are making a new argument that basically says they control ALL sales channels. This I have a problem with.

A big problem.

Because this isn't really any different than if Apple banned the Dixie Chicks from their store and then prevented you from loading their music even if you bought their tracks from Amazon or ripped them from a CD. Apple said "no" thus you can't load them on your iPhone. I imagine people might be upset by a move like this.

However if Apple moves to block all 3rd party applications from being loaded and suddenly they are doing it all for your benefit and thus it should be perfectly legal? I refuse to give up my freedom to choose what applications I want, based on what Apple thinks is best for me.

Would downloading a 3rd party application outside of the App Store be dangerous? Potentially yes, it could. But that is a risk I'm willing to take. Or rather, that should be a risk that I should be allowed to take. If Apple thinks it is a bad idea they are welcome to not sell that applicaiton on their store. But once I pay for my iPhone I damn well better be able to put whatever I want on their, regardless of wether or not Apple approves.

Last time I checked, Honda hasn't tried to prevent me from putting large rims on my Civic because it might mess up the suspension. I haven't yet had anyone from the Gap accost me because the shirt I bought from them doesn't match my pants. Apple's right to dictate what Apps get loaded on my phone ends once I take it out of the packaging.

So unless things change, I anticipate buying a phone that runs Andriod in the coming year. Maybe I'm crazy, but I find more and more that I value freedom over convience. But maybe its me.

Comments

  • Apple, what have you done? James used to be one your most ardent and blindly loyal followers. You could do no wrong in his eyes. Here at Apple Matters while the rest of became cynical,James remained true to you.

    But now you’ve burned him too.

    Just a couple of years ago any criticism here would be met with a torrent of replies defending Apple unwaveringly. Nowadays you’re lucky if even zato shows up.

    Success is showing us your true form. And it’s not pretty.
    Apple, you’ve got a very serious problem when the Apple zealots start to lose faith.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • Maybe we’re just older and more cynical or maybe the new generation of evangelists (fanboiz) are just too moronic to want to align ourselves with, considering Apple are hardly the underdogs of years gone by, but whatever it is, it’s happening to everybody I know these days too, and Apple have only got themselves to blame, although they probably don’t care.

    barrowman had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 15
  • James.

    With all due respect, if you want to install unauthorized apps on your iPhone you can always jailbreak it.

    While I don’t share your views, perpetuating the myth that Apple is doing anything extraordinary here is irresponsible. To take your car analogy, if you install rims that’s like changing the wallpaper on the login screen. But no Honda dealer is going to service your car or support it if you swap the engine out or decide to change the gearbox.

    What the geeks and nerds seem to forget is that Apple are now a *consumer* electronics company, and not a computer company; and I don’t see my 67 year old mum knowing or caring the hoops developers have to jump through to get their apps into the iTunes App Store.

    And why doesn’t this same argument get trotted out re. games consoles, where developers are under much stricter guidelines, and a much higher walled garden, about getting their games onto the xBox, Playstation or Wii?

    Apple have opened up the iPhone platform to an unheard of degree for a consumer product and all the self-righteous, ‘world owes me’ developers and users can do is whine about how it isn’t open enough.

    If you want to buy an Android phone you do that, but don’t expect your defection to make one iota of difference to the way Apple runs its business.

    andywar had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 6
  • (All things considered, I will keep my comments to unjailbroken iPhones since those still have Apple controlled firmware.)

    @ andywar

    James’ car analogy still holds true (replacing rims). His argument is that Honda doesn’t control what he puts on his car. Granted, he prob won’t get warranty service for his brakes or suspension but Honda will still service his car. Honda cannot prevent you from replacing your tires or rims…

    But, this article is arguing that Apple is preventing installation of unauthorized apps. And back to the car analogy, it’s like saying Honda will go out of their way just to prevent you from changing your rims or even as simple as replacing the stock headlamps’ bulbs to a higher-wattage bulb.

    I understand that Apple is trying to ensure that all their users receive the same level of service with their iPhones, in regards to apps, but their tightening grip is what frustrates a small portion of iPhone users. By me saying small portion, I mean a generally small group of iPhone users want to install those unauthorized apps legally and an even smaller group will jailbreak their phones. All things considered, if you didn’t jailbreak your phone, you will be concerned about this, too.

    Jailbreaking is like voiding your warranty for your car and going to a outside repair shop for future maintenance and repairs. The reason why people do not jailbreak their phones is that if anything does go wrong with their phones, Apple is more than willing to assist you in either fixing it or getting you a replacement, and if they their phone’s firmware tweaks because of jailbreaking, that’s like bringing in a heavily modified car back to the dealer and wanting warranty work…ain’t gonna happen…

    Of course I’m just rambling so, you get the picture of what I’m trying to say…

    NuGpod had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 1
  • No! it is nothing like a Car!!!

    It is like a cable box! Are you allowed to hack your cable box to try to get other channels (talk to the direcTV mod group about that). This is a consumer electronics device that has been subsidized by 1 or more companies. Part of purchasing this device is giving into it’s restrictions. Just as you accept that Sony is trying to keep you from ripping a Blu-ray DVD.

    You didn’t buy this product outright. You bought it with a contract and you have limited rights to that device as long as you are under contract. You will further have limited rights after the 2 year agreement if you want to continue to get updates.

    What is so hard to understand?

    Doug Petrosky had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 26
  • I fear a sad, ironic and hauntingly familiar situation playing out sometime next year. Put simply: app envy.

    It’s been a problem on the mac for the last ten years or so. You can get most apps ok a mac, but on a pc you can get any and every app.

    Mac zealots argue you can get apps for the mac to equal those on the pc, but it’s simply not true. Many times you can get similiar, but too often they fall well short of their pc equivalents.

    In 2009 iPhone owners will look with app envy on the android phones. And the drift to android will gather momentum.

    Sadly and hauntingly familiar.

    People want any and every app, except the malicious or crap ones,  which Steve said were the only ones he’d not let thru.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • “Apple, you’ve got a very serious problem when the Apple zealots start to lose faith.”

    Sadly, Chris, not enough of them, as the apologist comments after yours illustrate.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • “To take your car analogy, if you install rims that’s like changing the wallpaper on the login screen. But no Honda dealer is going to service your car or support it if you swap the engine out or decide to change the gearbox.”

    Except that no one is arguing about HARDWARE.  They are talking about THIRD-PARTY apps.  So the rims analogy is better and your apologist analogy is nonsense.

    Furthermore, we’re not talking about them supporting your car.  We’re talking about you as the consumer being able to buy a variety of products from a variety of stores, which you can do with any Honda.  Imagine if you could only buy third-party add-ons for your car from ONE store and that everything in that store had to be approved by Honda.  And if anything there sold competed in any way with Honda’s products or even POTENTIAL Honda products, it would be killed.

    That means no rims at all would even be available unless they were made by Honda.

    “What the geeks and nerds seem to forget is that Apple are now a *consumer* electronics company, and not a computer company; and I don’t see my 67 year old mum knowing or caring the hoops developers have to jump through to get their apps into the iTunes App Store.”

    And what Apple-bots seem to forget is that Apple isn’t selling to just the tiny religiously fanatical fanbase that will swallow whatever bullcrap Jobs squeezes out of his anus anymore.  This is a larger market with different expectations.

    “And why doesn’t this same argument get trotted out re. games consoles, where developers are under much stricter guidelines, and a much higher walled garden, about getting their games onto the xBox, Playstation or Wii?”

    If you have some evidence of Microsoft or Sony killing a game and preventing it from going into stores because it competes with an existing Xbox or Playstation game, which is what Apple is doing with the iPhone, then by all means spill.

    “Apple have opened up the iPhone platform to an unheard of degree for a consumer product and all the self-righteous, ‘world owes me’ developers and users can do is whine about how it isn’t open enough.”

    So anyone who wants more from their gadgets or products, particularly ones that cost hundreds and thousands of dollars a year, that’s “world owes me” and “whining”?

    So I take it that EVERY product you buy is without reproach and that you never, ever complain about it or let anyone else complain about ANY product that they pay for without calling them whiny?

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • “Just as you accept that Sony is trying to keep you from ripping a Blu-ray DVD.”

    I see.  So implicit in buying a Sony BR player is that anyone producing a movie MUST go through Sony to be approved before that movie can be released, and that it must be released ONLY through the Sony store, and that Sony can kill any movie title it wants for any reason, particularly titles that compete with existing or potential Sony titles.  Gotcha.

    Oh wait, that’s not how that works AT ALL!

    And not only is that not the case, if it were, NO ONE would stand for it.  And only the brainless Sony apologists, of which there are mercifully precious few, would bother defending such a ridiculously closed and crippled system.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Guys,


    A lot of you are missing the point. The reason I have a problem with this system is that Apple is attempting to limit what I can do with my device. I object to this because Apple can’t constrain my freedom to do what I want with my own phone simply because it conflicts with their business plan.

    Put another way, to all of you who favor this system let me ask you this: would you favor a similar system for your Mac?

    Would you happily accept Apple taking complete control of what applications you can and cannot install on your Mac? If you object to that, then why do you think it is ok for them to do that to your phone? Didn’t you pay for each product? Are you breaking any laws?

    So either you are cool with both or neither, but you can’t pick one and not the other.

    Well, not if you don’t want to look like an illogical idiot.

    James R. Stoup had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 122
  • Another question James, for those still one-eyed about it, is how would people respond if MS did this? For example, if MS didn’t allow any third-party office suites on Windows.

    We’d all be on the phone to the DoJ.

    Great article, James. And I just know that Apple is in trouble when I see Beeb backing you.

    1984 is coming again, but this time it’s not just Apple blowing a golden opportunity, it’s Apple playing the Big Brother role.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Sep 29, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • “Would you happily accept Apple taking complete control of what applications you can and cannot install on your Mac?”

    James, do you know nothing about fanboys?  Of course they would happily accept such a system on the Mac.  And they’d say that you were a whiner for objecting to it.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Sep 30, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • “I just know that Apple is in trouble when I see Beeb backing you.”

    As you said, this is like a different James.  I feel a little like Morpheus’s crew welcoming Neo to the world of the real.  smile

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Sep 30, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • lmao smile

    Chris Howard had this to say on Sep 30, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • Mixed feelings.. Certainly true - it is a jail if you can’t install applications except for those certified by AppStore. On the other hand, I guess we don’t want the iPhones to turn into another version of slow and inefficient Windows Mobile where nothing really works well and phone calls drop?

    y3k had this to say on Oct 01, 2008 Posts: 7
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