Wednesday, March 3

Time to jump ship on Apple

Party's over open-sourcers.  It was great while it lasted. 

We *had* a corporate, innovative company who, while they have never necessarily been a "friend" to open source, embraced it openly.  But we discover that they were only our friend for as far as that friendship would advance them.

We *had* an ally against the great evil in the mountains of Redmond.  Their witty commercials made us laugh.  Their rising market share, eating away at the Windows market share, was an encouragement to us all.  Maybe the general public can leave their world dominated by Windows to try something different.

We embraced them as "enemy of my enemy".  But now, they have revealed their true nature... they are the same thing.

Apple's lawsuit against HTC is the realization of some of the cautiousness I have approached them with over the years since they announced they were moving their platform to BSD.  Steve Jobs, while he gets credit for building an amazing package, is a proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.  Sure, he likes to play the part of super-cool, techno-geek... but in truth, he's just the charismatic guy who makes the geeks write his papers for him.  Steve Wozniak anyone?

I'm not saying Jobs is bad at what he does... but he's no revolutionary thinker and he's definitely not the "geek behind" Apple.  He is most certainly not worthy of the adoration to the point of deification that Mac enthusiasts have showered him with.   He has a lot more misses than he does hits.  He's sort of like an astrologer... he comes up with all kinds of wacky proclamations like "no one uses Java anymore" and "we aren't going to open our platform to external developers because no wireless provider want's a rogue app to take down their entire network".  Then there's the fact that they signed an exclusive deal with one of the worst networks as their provider for the iPhone.  But people don't remember that stuff, even though people outside of major cities are reminded of how bad AT&T is every day.  They remember his hits and they think he's some kind of techno-fortune teller who's intuition on technology is not to be trifled with.

If you look at  what they do best, Apple is an eye-candy company.   They have taken something technically good(bsd), put it on some average hardware, wrap it in a nice box, and charge a premium price for it.  There's nothing wrong with that, it's a part of business to build/package something into a product people will buy.  However, let us not forget that they did it, once again, by stepping on the shoulders of geeks.

For all of Bill Gates' faults, he could at least write some code.

But, I digress.

Suing HTC over what really amounts to the Android interface is ludicrous.  One could argue that HTC modified Android with the SenseUI, but Nexus One is included in the suit... so that argument has no merit.  Google is the maintainer of the Android project, if Apple is going to sue anyone, it should be Google.

Besides, the suit amounts to being over multitouch(not used on the N1), gestures... which has been around for a long time, and their "object oriented user interface"... uhh, yeah, had that on my Treo in 2003.

And why now?  Why just HTC?  Blackberry Storm uses gestures and an object oriented touch interface.  LG has a whole line of iPhone knock-offs.  This lawsuit is a CYA for Steve Jobs because they signed a deal with a crappy network and somone else is now truly competing with them... especially as N1 is set to launch on Verizon's network.  If Jobs was truly the technologist he claims to be, he would quit worrying about what everyone else does and go invent something else.  The fact is, he's not.  The innovation at Apple is growing pretty stale.  In fact, I think it's fitting that they tie all their products together with an i.  iPod, iPad, iPhone are all essentially the same thing.  They add some phone hardware and a little bit of software to an iPod and there you have it, iPhone.  Take the same idea, expand the form factor, and you've got an iPad.  The idea studio at Apple seems to be drying up, so Jobs is resorting to Microsoft-like tactics to keep the competition at bay.  In my opinion, that puts him solidly in the Microsoft category, and makes him an enemy of FLOSS.  The truth is, he always was.

In the end, lets face it.  This is all about self-interest.  I want my Nexus One the DAY it comes out for Verizon and if this lawsuit delays that by a single day I'm going to be one ticked off geek.
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