Dear Apple: Whatever you do, please keep us locked in your crystal prison

“Ever since Apple introduced the iPhone, first with no third-party apps allowed then permitting apps only under Apple’s strict supervision, there has been hand-wringing in some quarters of the tech world about how Apple’s locked-down mentality would stifle freedom and innovation,” Steve Wildstrom writes for TechPinions. “The latest blast against ‘Apple’s Crystal Prison’ comes from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.”

“Fortunately, there’s no reason to believe that Apple is listening to the siren song of openness coming from places like EFF, the Free Software Foundation, Harvard’s Berkman Center, and the Software Freedom Law Center,” Wildstrom writes. “Completely open systems would give opportunities for anyone with programming skill to get into the guts of any device and see what he or she could do with it. It’s possible that some wonderful things might result.”

Wildstrom writes, “But this same openness clears a pathway for the malicious or the merely incompetent. I don’t care if people want to mess up their own systems, but I don’t want their badly written or downright evil software corrupting mine.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: And throw away the key!

Google loves to characterize Android as ‘open’ and iOS and iPhone as ‘closed.’ We find this a bit disingenuous and clouding the real difference between our two approaches… Compare this with iPhone, where every handset works the same. Twitter client, TwitterDeck, recently launched their app for Android. They reported that they had to contend with more than a hundred different versions of Android software on 244 different handsets. The multiple hardware and software iterations presents developers with a daunting challenge. Many Android apps work only on selected Android handsets running selected Android versions. And this is for handsets that have been shipped less than 12 months ago. Compare this with iPhone…

…There will be at least four app stores on Android, which customers must search among to find the app they want and developers will need to work with to distribute their apps and get paid. This is going to be a mess for both users and developers. Contrast this with Apple’s integrated App Store which offers users the easiest to use, largest App Store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone.

“In reality, we think the ‘open’ vs. ‘closed’ argument is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue which is: What’s best for the customer? Fragmented versus integrated. We think Android is very, very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day. And, as you know, Apple strives for the integrated model so the user isn’t forced to be the systems integrator. We see tremendous value in having Apple, rather than our users, be the systems integrator.”

“We think this is a huge strength of our approach compared to Google’s. When selling to users who want their devices to just work, we believe integrated will trump fragmented every time. And we also think our developers can be more innovative if they can target a singular platform, rather than a hundred variants. They can put their time into innovative new features, rather than testing on hundreds of different handsets. So we are very committed to the integrated approach, no matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as “closed,” and we are confident that it’ll triumph over Google’s fragmented approach, no matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as “open.”Apple CEO Steve Jobs, October 18, 2010

Related article:
EFF: ‘Apple’s Crystal Prison and the Future of Open Platforms’ – May 29, 2012


  1. The EFF is nothing more than the Tea Party of the tech world; a bunch of bullsh!t artists trying to force their non-practical ideals on people who don’t want or care to hear their message. It’s funny how they ignore the obvious; Apple’s approach has actually made everything better. How quickly they forget what the mobile landscape was like before the iPhone.

    1. That’s odd. I find your comparison more appropriately applied to today’s Lib Dems.

      So much for bringing your biased political beliefs into the fray.

    2. I think you have it backwards. The EFF’s ideals are 180 degrees opposite from the Tea Party. The Tea Party wants government off people’s backs, telling them what to do. At the same time, the EFF is piling on Apple, trying to tell them what to do.

      1. I think the original poster was saying that Apple is the equivalent of the government, since Apple and the government are applying controls, whereas the EFF and Tea Party are advocating fewer restrictions.

      2. Actually your analogy is wrong. The two are exactly parallel.

        The Tea Party is piling on government, trying to tell them what to do. And that’s to “free” the people from government “it’s for your own good” control. The Tea Party has a chance of taking over key parts of government and actually do so (or at least try, good luck with that).

        The EFF is piling on Apple, trying to tell them what to do. And that’s to “free” users from Apple’s “it’s for your own good” control. The EFF has no chance of taking over key parts of Apple to do so.

        The Tea Party and EFF both have their good points and their bad. Dismissing either based on their bad points, without acknowledging their good points, is just willful ignorance.

  2. An iOS owner is apple’s bitch, let’s not parse words. An android owner is google’s bitch, the mobile manufacturer’s bitch and not least of all, is owned by the mobile carrier.

    Open, schmopen. I’d rather belong to one fairly benign pimp than to three, and at least one of which will always be fairly abusive.

    1. Wow, what a sad commentary on your outlook on life. There is life above the gutter and language to go along with it. You don’t have to sink to the level of thugs, gangsters and criminals.

      1. Sorry, criminal defense law rather requires it! And who else better to sink to when discussing Android and their cellular companions? Slavery? Nazis?

        Whoops, I forgot those are reserved for political discussions on these boards! I regret if my analogy has caused you any unease, but I stand by the sentiment.

  3. I like the walled garden, but I just wish Apple would open up Safari to some kind of extension system or allow more customizable parental controls. If I want to protect my family from porn I need to disable safari and install some kind of 3rd party browser. All of those browsers suck and they don’t integrate with the OS like Safari does. One idea is to force the use of OpenDNS via parental controls.

  4. Bull Crap on it being a prison.

    Run Win7 or Unbuntu Linux on your Mac if you want to program wierd things or run really ‘baaaad’ software.

    The consequences of a Mac going down with 20 years worth of work on it is really bad news. I will stick with the MacOS X environment and stability, thank you very much.

  5. I respect the EFF and all that they do, and I’m inclined to agree with them on the core message. I think some of the things they want will never happen, but the spirit of the message I fully support.

    The first thing everyone appears to be confused about and keeps bringing up is ‘fragmentation’ – the EFF is not advocating that Apple license their OS out to other handset makers. The fragmentation issue wouldn’t happen if developer restrictions were lifted or if you could install software from other sources than the Appstore.

    What would satisfy me personally is a setting in iOS (even if its buried) that allowed me to basically get full control over my device and install whatever I want on it without feeling like a second class citizen in Apple’s eyes when I jailbreak.

    The whole thing is a worthy subject for debate regardless of what side you stand on.

    1. “What would satisfy me personally is a setting in iOS (even if its buried) that allowed me to basically get full control over my device and install whatever I want on it without feeling like a second class citizen in Apple’s eyes when I jailbreak. ”

      The first thing that’ll happen is, everyone will turn this setting on because they googled “how to unrestrict iphone” and think they know what they’re doing, and what they’re getting into. 95% of them don’t, they just want a fancier screen unlock method, animated background, etc.

      Apple *might* be able to do as you suggest, if it also comes with a one-time “by unrestricting your iPhone, you waive all warranty rights” and that is recorded in an Apple database. Your unit is permanently on the list, even if you re-enable the restrictions later.

      But this is fraught with severe legal risk. In most countries with consumer protection laws you can’t void warranty or other protections except for accidental damage. It would be hard for Apple to prove that software bricked a phone, other than a borked firmware update.

      1. I don’t think everyone would turn it on, I have friends with Android devices and none of them has set “Allow Unknown Sources” in their settings. I know because I had to set it temporarily to install some software I had in APK format for them.

        I also don’t think Apple should enable everything, just a setting to lift app restrictions allowing the use of an alternative install point if the user chooses.

        I have no problem with the radio being locked down or the boot loader being locked up. I’m sure there will continue to be jail breaking for people who want that extreme control over their hardware.

        I guess no matter what Apple does someone will be happy and someone else will be pissed off.

  6. As I wrote in…

    If the house you want is in a gated community, you either buy it or not. It’s quite pompous and egocentric to insist a whole community should remove the existing useful gate and install bars on the individual homes just so you can enjoy the “freedom” of less security. Some of us bought our home because it IS a gated community. We’ve already seen what happened to the other communities that were left to find their own windows’ security. Some people never bothered and now they are constantly reinstalling new windows due to vandalism. If you don’t touch my gated community, I won’t touch your windows.

    1. Your house in your gated community only comes in two colours (black,white) and has 3.5 rooms. You are not allowed to have any R rated material in your house and everyone coming in is highly scrutinized by the security guard. You are not allowed to change the interior of your house, yet you paid good money for it.

      Sooner or later, people will want to be free. Just a matter of time.

      1. Aryu Gaetu and nicksti
        Congratulations, you have each managed to clearly present you views without criticising others. This should be a lesson to us all: respect each others preferences and stop arguing about who is right and who is wrong. Well done!

  7. I keep my friends and client contacts on my mac and iPhone. I also keep my work, tax info, various passwords, bank accounts, and credit card accounts on them.

    I think I just answered the question as to how open I want my phone and laptop to be.

  8. Why is it that without fail every final justification of why an iDevice does things the right way comes down to sales? Because the best product sells the best (which is not always the case)?

    Android has 60% marketshare in some countries. I wonder what this place will be like if the iPhone and iPad marketshare started to look like Mac vs PC?

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