Apple Gets Away With It

I’m a long-time user of Apple products, going back as far as the Apple ][ and more recently with an iPod Nano.  I wouldn’t regard myself as a fanboy but rather appreciative of good design.  However, I’m amazed at the things Apple is getting away with at the moment – things which I think are plain wrong.

My issues are primarily around the fact that iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad
– are locked down to only allow approved applications to be installed
– that approved applications are only available through Apple’s App Store
– that developers are consequently forced to pay Apple for the privilege of selling in the App Store
– that the approval process and standards for applications are unclear at best, spurious at worst and subject to change

As for the nonsense regarding Adobe’s Flash, I’m deeply suspicious that Apple appears to be abusing its market position to encourage the adoption of one technology (HTML5) over another  (Flash).  HTML5 is an open standard which gives some moral high-ground but I can’t help wonder if things would have been any different even if it was proprietary.  You’d think that more of the website owners would be complaining but I guess all they can see is the kerching of cash.

I don’t have a problem with Apple deciding what they’re going to sell in their App Store – it is their store after all.  It’s the lockdown of the devices and the necessity to jailbreak that make the situation wrong.  If I want to have objectionable apps or adult material on my iPhone, that’s my decision, not Apple’s.

Imagine for the moment that Apple is actually Ford, you’ve bought a Focus and you want to personalise it with some body parts and accessories.

– you’d have to buy all your parts or accessories through Ford
– Ford would decide what parts or accessories are available
– suppliers would have to pay Ford to stock their parts or accessories

This kind of behaviour in the auto industry was banned in the UK and the EU several years ago and I assume also in the USA.  The auto folks brought it on themselves by keeping prices high, but just because the apps in the App Store are cheap, it doesn’t mean that it’s right.

[updated to reflect store = App Store, not mall store]