Why I’m Siding with Apple on This One (and the One Before That…)

by Josh Rubenoff May 07, 2010

There are many, many things about Apple which I dislike. Yes, even if you ignore how the abhorrent environmental consequences that inevitably come with manufacturing millions of electronic devices every quarter will probably ravage our atmosphere and natural resources over the next few centuries to the point where our planet is no longer livable. There's also, you know, the company's preference for closed marketplaces and proprietary hardware, sometimes to the detriment of its consumers. But I tend to ignore these things most of the time, because in addition to being a corporation only a few steps away from monopolistic tyranny, it's also insanely popular and beloved by consumers - for very good reason. I find that a lot of the time I find myself defending Apple not because I feel it's doing good work overall so much as it's on the right side of the argument in question.

"Thoughts on Flash" is the latest example of this. Last Wednesday, Steve Jobs made it very clear why Adobe's product won't be allowed on Apple touch devices anytime soon. An excerpt:

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short. The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 200,000 apps on Apple’s App Store proves that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.

Wow! That was amazing, and even though I would otherwise point out how restrictive App Store guidelines and the relative inferiority of iPhone web apps to their native counterparts somewhat diminish Jobs' argument, I'm completely with Apple on this. I had to force restart my computer every day for a month until I installed ClickToFlash, and every time I install a new version of Creative Suite I feel I'm signing a pact with the devil to relinquish any hope for reliability and speed from my computer going forward in exchange for the ability for me to do creative work in any capacity. On the Mac, Adobe's products are buggy, slow and unreliable, and I root for Apple not because it's doing the right thing so much as I hate Flash.

The same situation applies to Gizmodo and its scoop on the new iPhone. Now would be a good time for me to disclose that I hate Gawker Media and all that it stands for, due to many different reasons - sometimes I think I should pull an Arment and install a script that'll keep me from ever visiting a Gawker site even by accident. But for Gizmodo specifically, I really dislike the childish pranks, and any website that floods its front page with such obvious SEO-ready linkbait while still charging premium rates for ad space shouldn't be granted any journalistic credibility whatsoever. So despite how I think Apple's extreme culture of secrecy is probably psychologically harmful to its employees and shouldn't be implicitly endorsed, I believe Apple should take any and all possible legal recourse against Jason Chen et al. I assume Gawker's legal counsel approved the site's actions of paying $5000 for a stolen iPhone prototype and then publicly displaying it online, but if they don't turn out to be technically illegal, Gizmodo's behavior is brazenly unethical. So, again, I side with Apple, not because I approve of their actions - more like I just dislike the other guy.

I think Google provokes similar mixed feelings among open-source advocates: the company and its employees contribute so much to the open-source community, but simultaneously keep its primary revenue generators (its search and online advertising businesses) deeply closed and proprietary. When you're a giant tech company, the strength of your brand can't rely on product quality alone. Some aspect of your company (how your products are made, how you market them or how you partner with other companies) is bound to anger some people. Both Apple and Google manage to engender goodwill by making these relatively minor decisions that not only work in their own self-interest but those of consumers as well.


  • If Apple is forced to open up the iPhone OS platform, then the Wii, PSP,  XBox should do the same.  OTOH Flash is more of a monopoly, it is almost all over the web.
    Now, Giz did break the line.

    tropicoco had this to say on May 08, 2010 Posts: 8
  • There is no doubt in my mind that the apps on iphone are far superior to the apps on Android. The problem with Android’s apps are they are limited and don’t seem as user friendly, I know Google wants to improve or capitalize on Android’s apps database, but I think it will never compete with Apple. Just look at the amount of apps listed on iphone index sites like http://www.dozeniphone.com and you will see what I mean. The iPhone has an app for everything, Android has an app for some things. That’s the difference.

    Hannah Montanna had this to say on May 17, 2010 Posts: 1
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