The Fallen, 1984, The Friendly Big Brother. Anti-Trust?
Alright I had planned on doing only one of these and then kind of forgetting about and moving on to something else. But right now I have a lot on my mind and I think it might interest a few of you.
I have to say something about the passing of Ted Kennedy. I think too often he has been discounted or thought of as the lesser brother but the fact is that the man has been in service to his country for over 40 years. Like it or not, he has always fought for what he felt would improve this country and always did from the heart. Sure his personal life had it's problems but I think he more than made up for it in service to his country. So I suggest that you take some time today and reflect on what this man's life work has given us and hope that his dream of health care for every American doesn't die with him.
Now on to other things,
"My friends, each of you is a single cell in the great body of the State. And today, that great body has purged itself of parasites. We have triumphed over the unprincipled dissemination of facts. The thugs and wreckers have been cast out. And the poisonous weeds of disinformation have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Let each and every cell rejoice! For today we celebrate the first, glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directive! We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology, where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thought is a more powerful weapon than any fleet or army on Earth! We are one people. With one will. One resolve. One cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death. And we will bury them with their own confusion! We shall prevail!"
Now many of us who were alive and aware in 1984 watched the Super Bowl and saw this ad which promised the freedom of the new personal computer. The images were dark and forbidding like that of the movie based on the George Orwell book. At that point the big brother was the evil IBM and Apple was presented by they Olivia Newton John look like. The problem is that much of that quote could now in fact be about Apple.
Before I get too far into, let me say I'm a Windows user. There is a number of reasons for this and I won't go into this whole which is better debate. Cause what I plan on addressing has nothing to do with it. See I'd leave Apple be if it did keep barging into my life in some way and effecting how I use my devices and buy my music.
"See Apples is like Fascist Italy. There is no freedom but the trains run on time." I wish I could remember who said this cause it sums up so much. I think it might have been from one of the podcasts on twit - http://twit.tv. At any rate Apple has created a market share based off high end over priced products but limits how the UI experience is allowed. The Apple user experience tends to be a very good one for average computer and device users. They also have great tech support, in fact the best in the computer industry. However the reason behind this is a freedom from choice and a restrictive UI. There is a reason that there is one button on the mouse, take the choice away and let's face it if you limit the ways of doing something the easier it will be to use. Yes there is freedom at Apple it's the freedom from choice.
Now this is a standard of Apples business structure. The idea is they are going to control your experience of their product from the bottom up. This benefits Apple in two parts. First off, by limiting and controlling what applications and software that runs on their system, they decrease the amount of support needed and increase their profit and market share. Think of it as a trip to Disney World. Great experience but it's all controlled by the mighty Mouse head office.
Now you might be thinking what the big deal. This only effects Apple users and if they want to trade freedom for better customer service and experience let them. I'm sticking with my PC and doing things anyway I wish. See I thought the same until the iPod came along. It was the first product that Apple had that was cheap enough for your average user to think it was not out of line. In fact, if you polled your average Joe on the street, he would more than likely call any Media Player an iPod regardless of manufacture and may also believe that Apple invented the Media Player. Basically the iPod is on the same level as kleenex.
To create the seamless UI with the iPod along came iTunes and the iStore. This allowed the user to catalog and organize there media library, buy new media files and sync to their media player. That is as long as that media player was made by Apple. Also an interesting thing about the iPod and other iProducts is that media files can only be added and removed using iTunes. If you try to open the device as a normal drive(which is really all it is) the files are hidden. Also the device can only be sync to one computer and the sync is only one way in most cases. Think for a minute about just how much control this gives one company over the media files and that you own. Kind of like if Ford built a car that could only run on Ford fuel and could only be driven on Ford approved roads. Can you say monopoly?
Yes the word has been thrown around a lot lately in reference to Apple but sadly Trust cases are the hardest to prove and in most cases end with the Justice Department giving them a dirty look and warning about not doing it again. The real danger here is the amount of control Apple is gaining in the sale and distribution of media. The iStore is the largest seller of recorded music in the world. They command a 20 to 25% market share in retail music sales and 87% of media files downloadeds. One out of every 5 songs, or album sold in the world is sold by Apple. Apple can claim up and down that they are only making a 3% profit off the sale of media files but the scary part is the amount of power Apple holds now in the market. They can and do dictate how the file will be sold, at what price and in what format and to what devices they can be used on. Let's slow down and think about that, do you want any company to have that much control over any market, let alone the arts and entertainment industry. If this isn't free market, this is anti-competitive. Which I should remind everyone, in case you may have forgotten in the US's #1 export.
Now before you think it's time that I grab my ten foil hat and head back down the highway to crazy town. let's talk about the iPhone. It is the fastest growing smart phone on the market right now. In fact to average consumers it is the smart phone in much the same way the iPod is the media player. Sure there are other device that could do much of what the iPhone is know for long before it came out. Sure the UI on a Windows Mobile Device is no where near that of an iPhone and the same could be said of a Blackberry but the truth is they were doing all this long before Apple.
See it all comes down to marketing and one thing Apple has always been good at is marketing. The iPhone made your average user for the first time realize that they needed a smart phone. Apple has in fact moved the mobile industry from the feature phone to the smart phone. However, as they gain more and more of a market share and still seem to be locked into this exclusive contract with AT&T, their control over the device seems to be tightening up.
First on my list of worries about the iPhone is the contract with AT&T that has been going on for the past 2 years and seems to have no end in sight. The relationship has created more than a few slippery sloops for both companies. Many of the iPhone's functions have in fact been disabled at the request of AT&T. This has been for the benefit of AT&T's bottom line including disabling tethering and MMS. The latest was the rejection of the Google Voice App by Apple. The thing is that the only one this would benefit would be AT&T because the App would allow users to text and call internationally with paying fees to AT&T. This would effect AT&T ability to set prices for their services at whatever rate they wish. Because if you live in the US and want an iPhone you have to deal with AT&T. Funny but didn't the Fed break up Ma Bell to get rid of this situation?
Second scary thing about the iPhone is the way in which Apple approves apps for the apps store. The way in which the Motion Picture Association of America rates it's films, Apple asks developers to slide their app under the door for approval. When rejected often no reason is given and the developer is left with his own imagination to come up with a reason. Even worst when Apple pulls an App from the App store the developer is required to refund payments but Apple still keeps it's 30%. There has been an on going trend within the app store to censor apps with content that they find offensive or adult in nature. Kind of reminds me of when the ISP's tried to control where their users were visiting on the internet.
So to sum it all up, Apple bad. You have a company that creates a device for a unique market and then seeks to control that market from top to bottom. Much in the same way that Steve Jobs has tried to control his employees. Including trying to create anti-poaching agreements with Google and Palm. Yes Apple is do for a spanking. The question will be if the spanking will be hard enough to release Apples gripe. When you look at most of it, it's silly greed and lust for power that seem non-productive. For example, not allowing non-apple devices to sync with iTunes.