James Mayes

Hate #debill but love Apple? I’m curious…

In Social Media, Software Development, Start-ups, Twitter on April 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm

With all the furore over the Digital Economy Bill this week, one thought has continued to nag at the back of my mind.  It’s a thought that first occurred when the iPad got it’s much-trailed launch.

As I understand it, Apple run one of the tightest and most controlled platforms available. I’m not saying this is a bad thing per se, as I hear many people rave about the Apple product experience.  However, numerous news articles have compared developer contracts to modern slavery; Apple stated jailbroken phones are illegal; whistle-blower articles have been subjected to cease-and-desist orders. I‘ve also heard Apple compared to the Microsoft of the bad old days and I’m sure any Flash developer or Google Voice user will have a strong opinion to share with those who’ll listen. Some will argue these moves are to protect the Apple User Experience. Others will argue it hampers creativity and innovation.

I actually have a lot of respect for Apple. They’ve cornered and locked a huge market slice, built a massively passionate brand army and produced some game-changing devices. That they did this from the crumbling ruin of a company is all the more impressive.

So, back to #debill.  Significant argument this week about whether it got sufficient scrutiny and debate (it did not). About whether it harmed potential investment in communications infrastructure (it does) and about whether it encourages openness and innovation (it does not).

My point?  From a completely non-scientific review of Twitter, the vast majority of those I know opposing #debill are also significant Apple users.  Financially enriching a corporate that (to me) seems to embody many of the disliked elements in #debill.

I’m going to call a halt at this point, as the argument requires far more research than I have time for – but it’s been at the back of my mind, bugging me. Sometimes, you just need to share. Please, let rip with comments, thoughts and corrections…. it’s a great way to learn!

  1. It may be that those happy and excited about using Apple products are vocal about this on twitter and those of us who couldn’t care less about buying into this controlled brand might grumble a little but otherwise stay quiet?

  2. Let us do a survey, I’ll be on the so angry about #DEBill I even protested in the real world as well as bitched online side of the X axis and the never given Apple a penny end of the Y axis.

  3. Your point is very valid however I think there is a difference between physically buying into something that has restrictions already in place and being in a supposedly free environment where restrictions and, in many cases following DEBill, censorship is forced upon you. Being an Apple user/supporter is a consumer choice – the DEBill is not.

  4. Good points James. I am an Apple user, and use a Macbook Pro to code with for various reasons. Reason 1 – OSX. Which is essentially UNIX. But I am getting increasingly fed up with Apple and their moves. I think a sea change is coming, people are sick to the back teeth of strongarm corporates and backdoor deals across the board in our culture, whether in our politics, or culture or our technology.

    Yes, there is an element of technofetishism and Apple, like any smart company, can leverage that energy for good or bad. Generally their products are good, but their politics are becoming rather draconian.

    But hackers are smart too – if Apple carry on in this fashion, sod their iPhones and iPads and iWidgets. I’ll get an Acer, put Linux on it, and hack away as the rotten apple recedes in my memory. They are just another company after all…

  5. Despite being a card-carrying member of the Free Software Foundation, I use a mixture of Linux/Unix systems, a Macbook, an iPod and Windows, for a variety of reasons, some personal, some professional. However, I see whatever support I’m giving to the businesses and organizations behind those system as my choices, and I’m happy to debate the merits of those choices.

    This is on a different plane of importance from the conduct of the government in steam-rollering into law a poorly-considered mechanism for commercial entities to interfere with communications between individuals, a mechanism which threatens damage to any of us in ways that the hoary old Mac/PC, closed/open arguments cannot.

    Choosing Apple over Ubuntu can’t break democracy, but easily-abusable powers to disconnect voices might.

    • Happy to agree it’s in a vastly different league, and that choice matters – I can make the choice not to enrich Apple, but despite ongoing email discussion with my MP, the best I could get from him was to turn up to the third reading, then abstain!!

      Regardless, if the core principles of openness, collaboration and innovation are deemed to be “good things”, I see Apple and DEBill broadly standing on the same side of the line. With a fair bit of time, I’m sure I could expand the positions significantly – but the most important thing for me today was to at least air the thought.

  6. I’m struggle to see the analogy. You’ll have to expand on what elements in DEBill you see as analogous to Apple’s closed ecosystem. Not allowing me to install Flash on the iPad for instance, is not in the same league as removing my internet connection for visiting the “wrong” sites.

  7. […] The busiest day of the year was April 9th with 169 views. The most popular post that day was Hate #debill but love Apple? I’m curious…. […]

  8. So here’s my thought on Apple and the Open-Close debate.

    The way they (Apple) see it: a closed environment is the best way to control all elements of hardware/software compatibility and make sure everything is optimized, from the design of the devices to the feature the software can bring.
    It allows a GREAT user experience (from what I’ve –well– experienced, no matter what the device is, especially if you compare with the competitors. Then again, I’m biased as I’ve recently acknowledged my hatred against complicated, badly designed and un-lean systems/platforms/designs/etc…

    (but you can read more here: http://itibz.com/lean )

    Now, on to the Digital Economy Bill and its French and US equivalents (respectively HADOPI, and SOPA/PIPA), I don’t think it is right for a “higher authority” to have control on something that doesn’t belong to it, something that harms freedom, and something they do not understand.

    Apple understands its products and ecosystem. They know what it does: they created it. It belongs to them.
    The same CAN’T be said about the Digital Economy Bill. Protecting intellectual property is the pretext to get more control, as it’s been seen with the 4 different laws in these 3 different countries.

    These “authorities” don’t speak for people, they speak for companies, lobbies and industry representatives. And while yes, to some extent it damages and threatens those industries, their are two shifts that those conservatives institutions need to understand. This applies to both governments and labels/associations/industry reps:
    – The current model is broken. No big news, but it doesn’t stop them from keeping the current price models the same. The only legal disruptions (in this case in the music industry) came with iTunes and the digitalization of music, and then 5 years later with platforms like Spotify. (The same can be said about VOD –though it wasn’t to successful– and Netflix/Lovefilms, even though it is still the early beginning for most of us in Europe)

    – There is a cultural and psychological shift in the youth of today. If our previous generation learnt to take power when needed (think protests against Margaret Thatcher and the May 68 protests in France), this Y Generation is taking it for granted, and it’s cultural shift is happening in that we are in a Sharing and Crowdsourcing model, in that we help each other, and are enticed to share resources freely.

    It’s not the ENTIRE answer, but I think this is my fair point on why these two are different.

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