Bad Apple

Hello, everyone! Sorry I haven’t blogged in, oh, about three years.

It’s interesting the buzz surrounding Apple’s new device, the iPad. Despite having a rather unfortunate name, and despite all the negative press due to its hardware and software limitations, lack of USB and memory card support, and its use of iPhone OS instead of Mac OS X, it’s gone on to sell over half a million copies. Why? It’s new and shiny and interesting, and it does have some pretty fantastic features and interface design elements.

One thing Apple fanatics refuse to admit, however, is the fact that Apple is becoming more and more like its arch-rival, Microsoft. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Seizing the Opportunity for a Monopoly

Since the release of the iPhone, and more predominantly with the release of the iPad, Apple has become very intentional about making sure that no unauthorized application will be allowed into its App Store. Obviously, regulation and moderation of applications is important, especially since more and more children now have access to these devices, but recent developments to the App Store’s Terms of Service show that Apple is far more concerned with new apps’ profit potential than their morality.

For instance, apps for the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch are written in a computer language called Objective-C. Apple has made the Objective-C development environment only available for the Mac, and so Windows users cannot develop apps without purchasing a Mac computer. Adobe, creators of Photoshop, Acrobat, Flash Player, and most other industry-standard Web and multimedia design tools, recently announced that it would be possible to develop apps in their new version of Flash, Flash CS5 (available for both Mac and PC), which would run on a platform designed to convert Flash applications into Objective-C. At the time of Adobe’s announcement, Flash animations, like Web games, media and video players, and file and picture utilities, which are available to view on 99% of Web browsers today, had already been refused by Apple as a plugin for its mobile Safari Web browser for the few years since the iPhone’s release. Only days before Adobe’s product launch tour for Flash CS5, when the technology had already been developed, Apple changed the Terms of Service of the App Store to ensure that only applications specifically written in Objective-C on a Mac with Apple’s software could be included in the App Store, thereby making  Flash apps ineligible for entry into the App Store.

Moving from the Elite to the Popular

Since the launch of the phenomenally successful iPod, Apple’s stocks have continued to climb, and their company value is soon predicted to surpass Microsoft. Apple was once the company who created products for the elite, the wealthy, the educated, and the artistic. Now, however, they’re becoming ubiquitous and mainstream. It used to be that Microsoft was the necessary evil, and that Windows was only popular because it was the only operating system programmers wrote applications for. Now, it turns out that most people, even geeky people, actually like Microsoft’s latest version of Windows, Windows 7. In the past decade, sales of Windows PCs have far surpassed Mac sales because they cost significantly less, but products like the iPad, which starts at $499 USD, are beginning to make the Mac more affordable.

Steve Jobs

Yes, he saved Apple, and yes, his technological predictions have been uncannily accurate, but Steve Jobs scares me. He has a sterling public image, offering motivational speeches at high schools and wowing fans with his gizmos while he wears his trademark turtleneck and jeans. Deep down, though, he’s a scary man. Having read some of his acerbic and self-absorbed replies to emails, and weeding through the lies of his “Thoughts on Flash” bulletin, I see through his professional façade. It reminds me of Bill Gates’ vision of a PC in every home, which basically ended up coming true in the Western world.

I’m really worried about Apple. They are doing well now, but they’re like a fiddling Nero with all the bridges they’ve burned. It’s only a matter of time until their wave crests and ebbs.

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