Well Apple-lovers, you sure do choose interesting products. Like the iPod; a “revolutionary” portable audio player, being probably the first to have a non-replaceable battery. I might be wrong, having done no research on the subject, but this was enough to turn me off. Let alone the insistence of using iTunes.

Or the iPad; the computer-but-not-a-computer consumer device that let’s you do anything you want with your media.  So long as it is on Apple’s terms.  I don’t get why someone as apparently intellectual as Stephen Fry gets so excited about it. Yes, it’s so exciting, in fact, that I’d go immediately to iPad.com and check it out!

The iPad. I mean, for goodness sake, it’s a laptop without a keyboard, but with potentially harmful restrictions, a proprietary operating system and about as much appeal as a colonoscopy. According to Fry, it also has no “multitasking, still no Adobe Flash. No camera, no GPS”. But it does have a touch-screen and 3D desktop effects… Perhaps that’s why the Free Software Foundation dropped “Freedom” Fry’s video from their homepage: who’d want to appear as hypocritical as that?

And then there’s the iPhone. This is the biggy. Apple are using typical Microsoft-like tactics here.  Make an “irresistable” upgrade, probably for free or very cheap, and subtly attach some conditions to it. This time, as exposed in Giorgio Sironi’s blog post, The Apple of Sin, the condition is that you must only develop iPhone applications in languages prescribed to you by Apple.

The reasons, given by Giorgio, are pretty clear: Apple want to kill any chance of Flash appearing on the iPhone, else it might be inconsistent with the new iPad policy.

So, Mac users, be aware that your choice of platform may well come to haunt you in a year or two, when Apple extends this anti-Flash policy to OS X.  There is one nice aspect of this, though: Apple might just force Adobe to open-source Flash.  Then will follow a review-and-embrace process, where Flash gains recognition as an open standard.

Then we’ll see if Apple is embracing open standards as it “seems” to be with its current policies.  If not, then you’ll get more choice of hardware and software if you choose Windows. And even more if you opt for Linux and, not only would that be cheaper, you would also retain your right to choose what you do with it.

Sorry about that. 😉

6 thoughts on “Apple users: time to give up and switch back?

  1. Blimey – you are on a mission today Mr Dowe 😎

    This is a curious move by Apple.

    The web design and development community has pretty much gone over to Mac, but Windows 7 is epic and Linux maturing quite nicely – we could all move back Apple – so watch your step!

    As you know, I went over to Mac last year and love it. I don’t consider myself a “fan boy” – but I don’t see myself moving back. Everything is just better, easier, faster, better looking, better made and more reliable on my Mac.

    So, why go spoil all that Apple and start behaving like Microsoft!!!!!

    Adobe kind of have themselves to blame in part though.

    They let down Apple and Mac users for years – especially around some Flash issues (that would have crippled a mobile device). So, if Adobe couldn’t keep their house in order for Apple in the past, then what do they expect – BUT I still don’t agree with Apple on this one. Why not work together? I don’t get it.

    I don’t think they will ever get rid of Flash on OS X though. This is purely an app and mobile device thing I think.

    With the iPad – I think most geeks are missing the point though…

    I do think the iPad appeals to a target market who use a computer at work for work (and don’t do work at home) or are not geeks or designers – which let’s be honest – is the majority of people out there.

    Take my misses for example, she doesn’t want, need or care about multi-tasking, she doesn’t know what flash is, never uses GPS, so won’t care that Steve Jobs doesn’t want to play. As long as she can get on Amazon and use her Hotmail account, she is all set. Why wait 4 hours for Vista to start to do just that, when you can flick your iPad on in seconds.

    Think of it more like a “always on” magazine on your coffee table to be picked up and flicked through from time-to-time – not a laptop that you sit on all day long or do anything serious on.

    I really want an iPad as I love a new gadget and it is very cool, but I doubt I would ever get one as it won’t do what I need (I would want multi-tasking) and I don’t think buying something like this first gen is ever a good idea either to be honest as it will date very quickly.

    But I can see a very big market for it who won’t care about the draw backs, but that market isn’t us.
    Simon G

  2. On a mission? Nah, most blogs only take me 10-15 mins 😉

    Interested by your claim that most of the design and development community have gone over to the Mac. That’s the “design-and-development” community, right? I’d say there are quite a few developers on all platforms. But the Mac has always been the visual designer’s machine of choice, for historical and software reasons.

    Agree about Adobe, and well put.

    I think it’s Apple’s aim to rid themselves of Flash by reducing its potential as a development target. Given the massive market share of the iPhone, developers will simply have to not develop anything in Flash to support them.

    I welcome this simply because Flash is proprietary. But if the device manufacturer dictates that certain technology is or isn’t usable, and consumers still choose this, then that’s their call. iPad customers will choose a device, knowing that it won’t support a number of features of web sites out there.

    The sad thing about this, though, is that what Apple takes away with one hand it doesn’t give with the other. Apple rejected the use of patent-unencumbered Ogg Theora video and opted, like Google and Nokia, for the H.264 format. However, Apple only promotes QuickTime video on its own web site (QuickTime being a wrapper, like AVI, which then contains the encoded video stream, just as Flash does it). So, it “supports” HTML 5, but won’t support Theora without a plug-in.

    Video will be the new holy war, not operating system or mobile device or computing platform. There’s some nice commentary about this here: http://blog.gingertech.net/2010/01/25/html5-video-25-h-264-reach-vs-95-ogg-theora-reach/ . With royalties to be paid for the use of H.264, smaller content producers will naturally opt for the free alternative, which will then be much harder (or impossible) to access using mobile devices that don’t support that format.

    Suffice it to say, if you buy an Apple device that can only install software through the Apple Store, you give up your right to choose what you use, view and read. You end up consuming the content, ideas and suggestions of those organisations powerful and rich enough to control the vertical and the horizontal.

    Video isn’t the only aspect of control going on here. No-one can dispute Google being the king of search, yet Apple chose Bing for its mobile devices. Why? Was it in their customer’s interest? Why not Yahoo, who arguably has a better search engine than Microsoft..?

  3. Definitely mean the design “and” development community. Web dev community that is.

    If you go to tech conferences and web geek gatherings these days, more people in the room will be on Macs than PCs. I reckon at these events it is about 65% Mac users in the UK. In the States it is higher.

    The last web conference I was at, they got the room to hold up their hands if they had an iPhone and you had difficulty seeing anyone who didn’t have their hands up!

    Web “app” conferences (not mobile app) can be up to 90% Mac users in the room that I have been too, but that is probably “unrealistically” pushed up by the Ruby on Rails guys as they have a strong app background and Macs have always been the platform of choice for them.

    Compare that with the % during the dot com boom – I didn’t know any developers on a Mac, just designers.

    Out of the 9 developers I use / work with, only you and two others are on PC still, the others have all switched to Mac from PC. I think one of them will move soon as well though.

    You are on Linux now – so in six(ish) years I have gone from working with 100% PC / Windows based web developers – to only two being left on Windows, with one of them probably moving soon anyway! Ouch.

    Google is the default search on all Apple products at the moment – including the iPad as far as I know (correct me if I am wrong though – it certainly is on the Mac and iPhone).

    Rumour is they will go to Bing.

    Why? Cos Microsoft will pay them big money. I don’t see this as some evil plan against the open web or anything to do with not using the better option. If someone offered you millions to use Bing, you would say no and go with Google? No, didn’t think so LOL.

    Also, Google is becoming a big mobile competitor to Apple, so I can understand them wanting to get Google off their iPhones and iPads. Defaulting to it is a bit like you promoting another developer on your homepage, or Tesco letting Sainsbury’s advertise their products in their store.

    Would you do that, would Tesco… no, of course not.

    Is it in their customers interest, probably not (you are right), but they nearly went out of business before, so there is a lot more going on here than just being anti-competitive. The tide can change fast and Google are a big threat.

    Apple are the biggest control freaks around though and I am sure some stuff they do would end up being investigated if they had a larger market share overall.

    I think this Flash thing will cause more damage to Apple’s image amongst the web dev community than they think. The dev community has been shifting and now it is like “great, now you can’t be trusted, remind me why I switched”.

    I still don’t see how Adobe are a threat though in the same way as Google. Maybe I am missing something? Yes – i guess Flash apps on the web may take a few sales from Apple, but surely it the benefits would outweigh this.

    Again though, most people won’t care. If my misses gets an iPhone or iPad she won’t notice any of this and if she got a phone other than the iPhone she won’t use it for apps or the web (as let’s be honest, they are not very good at it), so nothing lost I guess in the “real world”.

  4. I have absolutely nothing against Macs, Mac users or their choices (while they are still free to make them)!

    The main theme of my original post was, that by choosing Apple products that enforce the use of Apple Store, customers are left with no choice as to what they do with their devices. If you control the software, you can control the content. Take this video, which you wouldn’t be able to watch on an iPad unless you’d signed up to the HTML 5 Beta programme (despite H.264 not being an official HTML5 format…)

    I would argue that this is the reason why Flash has been dropped; it’s an independent run-time much like Java, that allows applications to be installed (using Air, for example) which rely on the run-time rather than on the host’s operating system itself.

    Therefore, without it, the only way to get software on the device is presumably to get a developer account (even if you’re not a developer) or buy it through the Apple store. So the point still stands: you have more freedom using a Windows (or Google or Nokia) mobile device than you do an Apple one.

    A side note re search engine payments/handouts, this is how life really started for Firefox: the Mozilla Foundation receive about $50m/year because Google is the default search provider. But at least they are open (in FF’s URL, type “about:rights”) with the technology, much like Google opening up Android completely. I don’t think Apple have given much back to a community that gave them BSD/Darwin and WebKit, but I’ll save that for another blog.. 😉

  5. I agree – my point isn’t to say Macs are awesome and everyone should use them.

    To be fair, if Windows 7 had been out 18 months earlier, I would probably be typing this on a Dell!

    My point is… we (the web dev community) have moved to them as we either got fed up with Vista, didn’t like Microsoft’s monopoly or whatever. We moved to iPhone as it was much easier to use than some of the other phones before it.

    So, now, don’t take advantage of that by being a bully. Which they are. It is unfair to dictate the tools we have to use.

    You will probably find this interesting – possibly Apple’s number 1 fans saying Apple are wrong but explaining it in a logical way. This is not about Mac users V PC users or anything, it is about control (but people miss that point I think):
    http://37signals.com/svn/posts/2273-five-rational-arguments-against-apples-331-policy

    I would argue that Android, Nokia and co are less successful than Apple iPhone / iPad apps though (for now anyway) due to them being open, and normal non-tech folk want to be controlled as tech stuff is scary. As you say though, that is a whole other post!!!

    Good debate sir!!!