Saturday, January 30, 2010 bite or not to

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at the fifth D: All ...Image via WikipediaThis is a post which comes from the bottom of my heart. I havent planned it, and I'm kind of typing it out as the thoughts start coming in. But this is something which I feel should be discussed and people should take a stance either for or against it.

What I'm talking about is Apple. Not the delicious fruit which keeps the doctor away, but the equally 'delicious' multinational corporation leading the pack in creating some of the most stunning (and yes, I mean that word) products the world has ever seen. The iPod, Mac, iPhone and now the talk of the town the iPad, all created by this magic company headed by the charismatic Steve Jobs. These folks have handed us some of the coolest of products imaginable, almost as if fulfilling our childhood fantasies of playing around with some of the coolest gadgets. That is possible primarily because of the fact that they dont have to depend on other corporations/companies for their stuff. They are in control of every stage of the process of creating that stunning device, starting with the hardware, the design to the software and its nitty-gritties. These guys have the power over it all, and they do an awesome job, totally utilising this 'control' to their advantage. They also have this super tight lipped culture where nothing about anything really, gets leaked to the outside world, which of course, adds to the hype. As a result what we as consumers get are totally out of the box products never even imagined by other companies, and so revolutionary that it changes the landscape of technology overnight! As a direct consequence of that, Apple today is one of the biggest mobile companies in the world, with revenue rivalling that of giants like Nokia. And I'm quite sure that in no time, the Mac will compete with Windows for the more popular OS tag (the more stylish OS award has already been won by the Mac). Awesome corporation Apple, isnt it? Of course it is.

The thing is, however, inspite of all this glamour and glitz and hype about everything Apple, there is something the company is creating. Its making the technological world more 'closed'. There's a certain way Apple OSes/softwares are designed and the consumers are meant to use it as Apple deems fit. In other words, Apple controls the way we experience its products. I'll just give you an example. Say there's a minor glitch/absence of a particular feature in an Apple software, now what do you do then? At the most, you send a feedback to Apple and expect them to take care of it (erm...leaving the problem totally at their disposal which most of the time ends up in the company releasing a new improved version of the product leaving you with no other option but to spend your moolah all over again in getting that improved product), since no one else can because Apple doesnt wish to release the source code (in lay man's terms that means instructions about how a program performs/functions). But what if there's a really good software developer willing to do that rectification/debugging of that software and add some more features to it for free! If you could, would you hand it over to that guy? I dont know about your answer but I would. But Apple wouldnt want us to hand it over to that guy simply because it means that the company loses control over the product.

This is exactly how closed source and open source softwares (and corporations as well) function. The situation described above is not something which might bother you now, but trust me, this will become a bigger issue every time pro-closed source corporations (eg. Microsoft, Apple, etc.) keep coming up with these awesome products. These products are seriously cool devices in the guise of something else...something different, something meant to steer the technological world in a particular direction favourable for the particular company.

Dont get me wrong, I'm not anti-Apple. I honestly believe the world would be a duller place to live in without the blessings of Apple and its products (and I am a fan of the iPhone and Mac). But I certainly dont like the way Apple resists from releasing a single letter of the source code of its OSes. I wont talk about Microsoft Windows, because already there is a significant number of people who are 'tired of' that OS and want to/have already shifted to Mac and Linux. And that number certainly isnt decreasing. However Apple already has an awesome user-friendly OS which is both secure, stable and easy to use (the former two cannot be applied to Windows). In other words, Mac is a better all round OS than Windows (and is destined for greater success, perhaps of titanic proportions if they let developers across the world help them in their endeavour). Who knows, had Apple gone open-source, the Mac would have been the OS on 97% of computers across the planet today and not the other way round.



  1. Nice Article Man!! very well written. I am also a big fan of apple but unfortunetly I using none of the product of Apple. :)
    But I share your view. If they let some API's open then there might be more features and softwares made by open source developers for the Apple OS.

  2. Agree it's a great article too. Apple controls it's own software/hardware/, that's true, but there are probably thousands of shareware applications for the Mac, if you don't like the way an Apple application does work you can try some of them.

    As for the iDevices, it is possible to hack them, but the downside is they will use more memory (RAM), be less stable and also use more processor power generally speaking.

    So Apple controls, not only for it's own good, but it makes things more stable on all it's platforms, integration between applications is also generally better too.

    So to sum up.

    Closed source = more control for Apple, but better
    stability and performance for the consumer.
    Open source = less control fo Apple, more options for consumers but less stability and performance.

    If you want open source you have Android for the mobile market and Linux for your PC's.

    If Apple was perfect, then it could rest on it's laurels, and there would be no need to improve. Having said that, personally I think iTunes and the latest version of iCal in Leopard have gone down the wrong route - you now have to click additional buttons to get to features that were there in the previous release - not so great in my opinion.

    Overall though things do improve, although I am concerned that iTunes will be doing the iBook store, as apps and music already take up so much of my Macs resources already.