Sunday, April 18, 2010

A summary of beliefs (weekend edition)

John Battelle and Tim O'Reilly published an open letter to Apple this morning, chastising the company for its policies of limiting press contact to a few carefully-chosen editors, writers and analysts, dropping out of industry conferences, and discouraging company employees from blogging. Their letter got me thinking about some of the things that I believe:
  • Battelle's and O'Reilly's open letter is both self-serving and hypocritical. As I noted on Battelle's blog, Microsoft did even worse things than Apple for years, and neither writer complained about it. Microsoft had a "scorched earth" policy with writers, editors and industry analysts who wrote negatively about the company or gave its products bad reviews. They and their publications weren't invited to Microsoft's press events, weren't allowed to interview Microsoft's employees, and didn't get access to beta software in order to write reviews or books. Losing access to Microsoft was equivalent to a death sentence for people covering the PC business. Microsoft's behavior was legendary within press circles, but became widely known only after the US and EU pursued antitrust charges against the company.

    I would give Battelle's and O'Reilly letter more respect if it had stuck to trying to get Apple to open up, but it led into a pitch for a forthcoming conference. Are they interested in getting Apple to open up in the public's interest, or in selling more tickets for their conference?

    Update: Fake Steve Jobs replies with an open letter of his own.

  • I disagree with Apple's decision to ban cross-compilers and intermediate development platforms for the iPhone OS, but Apple has the right to do so unless it does something illegal. At least on the surface, I see no evidence of illegal behavior and no grounds for antitrust action.

  • I believe that Apple's application review process is broken, as the Mark Fiore situation once again demonstrated. Apple should be reviewing apps to insure that they work and don't introduce security problems into the iPhone OS environment. It should be enforcing its UI guidelines in order to provide a consistent user experience. It shouldn't be involving itself in the content of apps, unless that content has been stolen from someone else or is pornographic in nature (it fails the "no socially redeeming value" test.)  In general, Apple should support free speech, and its policy should be to approve apps unless there's something technically wrong with them.

  • Adobe should focus on making Flash run as well as possible on non-iPhone OS platforms to help make those platforms viable competitors to Apple. HP and Adobe keep waving their hands and talking about how great the new HP tablet will be; Dell keeps leaking out photos of its 5" tablet, and now 7" and 10" pictures have surfaced. Adobe keeps talking about how it will have Flash 10 running on a flock of smartphones. How about a lot less talk and a lot more shipping?
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