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The State of the Internet Operating System
June 28, 2010 7:55 AM   Subscribe


 
hm. interesting analogy of how the advent of M$ changed the landscape and the use of the term 'faustian bargain'. the question is, do we have a choice? and furthermore, is there a separate web developing over voice/sms (outside of the websites in mobile screen format, i mean) or will that develop outside of this conglomeration of the original 'internet'. more after I read it thoroughly
posted by infini at 8:16 AM on June 28, 2010


M$

Ah, I remember how funny I thought it was to write Microsoft that way in high school.
posted by kmz at 8:25 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is a lot of why smart technical people find the iPhone so threatening. We've been through it all with Microsoft, and Apple will be a far more terrible monopolist than Microsoft ever was.
posted by Malor at 8:28 AM on June 28, 2010 [31 favorites]


Well put, Malor. I could never put my finger on why Apple's values as a corporation bothered me - beyond the obvious that they were squeezing their customers dry in whichever business model they launched - but your take is an excellent big picture perspective on the issue.
posted by infini at 8:36 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


So the future of the web-as-os is a small computer in my pocket that:

1) Breaks down any walls I put up in terms of my different lives (social, work, family)
2) Automatically sells me to advertisers based on a data stream that's subconcious even to myself
3) Tattles on my location as a feature rather than an annoying side-effect
4) Provides a centralized location for a hacker or physical thief to steal every part of my identity
5) Provides a centralized location for a Government to do the same through increasingly deteriorating system of wire-tap protections


Neat-o.

I guess the option is to not use it. Just like some of the 50-something people I see at the library chose not to use PCs way back when, and now have to learn how to use computers in addition to searching for jobs.
posted by codacorolla at 8:43 AM on June 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


Apple will be a far more terrible monopolist than Microsoft ever was.

well, there are threatening clouds on the horizon, certainly. Microsoft didn't really put much effort into owning the media distribution pipeline the way apple seems to be doing. maybe that's because they came into their own too early for that to be a realistic consideration, or because nobody even thought that would be a possibility till Jobs or someone else at apple started slowly putting that together.

I believe there's still room for a little bit of sanity on that end from apple, despite how boldly they're currently striding toward the ultimate goal of owning the access to all media. I just don't think that sanity is going to come from someone saying "holy shit, this billion dollar money printing behemoth is a morally bankrupt idea." either apple is going to succeed wildly in their endeavors and (hopefully) get hit by the DOJ with an antitrust case, or the backlash against a monolithic media distribution channel is going to make it a bad idea financially for them not to let up a bit.
posted by shmegegge at 8:45 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd prefer the monopolist that makes money off selling hardware over the one that traffics in user information.
posted by strange chain at 8:49 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


"...owning the media distribution pipeline..."
"....the ultimate goal of owning the access to all media."
"...a monolithic media distribution channel..."

GOOGLE FREE CULTURE
posted by DU at 8:52 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not a big fan of the control that Apple holds on its application developers but I can't really ever see it becoming a real monopoly since it'll (probably) never get the market share that Microsoft has. MS Windows still has ~90% of the desktop OS market while the iPhone currently has <2> and has some serious competition. You can't be a monopolist with 15% of the market and I can't see Nokia, Google or RIM going away anytime soon.
posted by octothorpe at 8:56 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ach. that should read "iPhone has <20% of the smart phone market"
posted by octothorpe at 8:58 AM on June 28, 2010


octothorpe - there's a valid point in what you say but what Apple does seem to have a monopoly on is the mindshare of MSM, analysts, fanboi tech blog writers et al that tends to drown out any sound of any other tree in that very large global forest and makes people forget that its just one tree out of a hundred (as a stretch analogy of their marketshare to mindshare ratio)
posted by infini at 9:00 AM on June 28, 2010


Apple will be a far more terrible monopolist than Microsoft ever was.


This makes me think Apple is Cate Blanchett: “Instead of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen, not dark but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Tempestuous as the sea, and stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!”
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:01 AM on June 28, 2010 [27 favorites]


This makes me think Apple is Cate Blanchett

Was I the only person who thought that scene was just really weird and freaky in FOTR? That and the bit with Bilbo (YOU KNOW WHICH ONE I MEAN).
posted by kmz at 9:06 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I could never put my finger on why Apple's values as a corporation bothered me - beyond the obvious that they were squeezing their customers dry in whichever business model they launched -

Well thank God they're the only company that does that!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I could never put my finger on why Apple's values as a corporation bothered me - beyond the obvious that they were squeezing their customers dry in whichever business model they launched

Er, the corporations that don't do this are in the fringe minority, and generally are private or majority family owned.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:13 AM on June 28, 2010


Apparently this is another thread where Metafilter lashes out incoherently and illogically against Apple for making the iPhone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:14 AM on June 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think Apple has a decent head-start, but they know they're an also-ran as Android catches and surpasses the iPhone and iPad. The same economics that doomed the Mac to second-best are at play - the only real difference is that with Jobs at the helm, it won't be as one-sided. When it all shakes out, Apple will keep a quarter of the market, Android 50%, and Rim, MSFT, HP and Nokia filling out the remaining 25%.

My biggest issue is that Apple has unleashed Patentageddon to stifle Nokia and HTC (tho to be fair, Nokia started it), but sooner or later they're going to step on IBM or HP's toes, and those companies have defensive patent portfolios the likes of which East Texas has never even dreamed of.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:15 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


kmz: "That and the bit with Bilbo"

Is... Is that an iPhone 4? Yes? May I just... see... it? Just for a moment?
posted by boo_radley at 9:17 AM on June 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is a lot of why smart technical people find the iPhone so threatening

You mean dumb people, if they think Google isn't going down the exact same route -- and Google has vastly more data to work with.

I do love how Apple is evil, so don't use the App Store, but it's okay to put all of your email and documents on Google.

The reason these so called "smart people" are anti Apple is that they're foolish enough to believe that Open Source will keep them "free", whatever that means.

It's not the OS. It's not the Applications. It's not the Vendor. It's the Data. With clean, accessible data, you can change the OS, the App or the Vendor. Without clean, accessible data, you are beholden to whomever lets you read your data.

Google's clear position is "We want all of your data stored on our servers, at all times."

Thank you, no. It's perfectly possible to use Apple Products and keep your data locally. Gmail, Google Apps, Android, and on, and on, and on, involve moving all of your data to Google and hoping that you can keep identical copies locally and that Google isn't more evil.

Bad bet.
posted by eriko at 9:17 AM on June 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


You don't understand BP, Apple wants to control EVERYTHING, they are threat to life itself and must must be stopped!

Google should totally be in charge, that would be so much better!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:18 AM on June 28, 2010


Personally I'm looking forward to the BitTorrentification of all these fancy-pants cloud services. I want a distributed facebook, a self-hosted GMail, a private yet globally accessible spreadsheet editor. And no wants to even sell me hosting for these sorts of things :(
posted by public at 9:19 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I could never put my finger on why Apple's values as a corporation bothered me - beyond the obvious that they were squeezing their customers dry in whichever business model they launched -

Well thank God they're the only company that does that!


and burhanistan's comment as well:

My point wasn't that they are the only company - what makes my skin crawl is how well they use appealing design to enrapture people into overlooking everything... here's an ongoing debate right now. And in my corner of the webz where design is believed to have the ability make a positive difference in the lives of many more, especially the underserved et al, this attention shift back to styling is not a healthy trend.

And now we should stop talking about Apple before this thread disintegrates and get back to looking at the interwebs as a whole.

The information operating system and its future
posted by infini at 9:19 AM on June 28, 2010


This is a lot of why smart technical people find the iPhone so threatening

You mean dumb people, if they think Google isn't going down the exact same route -- and Google has vastly more data to work with.


Except he entirely didn't say that. Lots of "smart people" are threatened by Google & Apple. They are far from mutually exclusive options.
posted by public at 9:22 AM on June 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


It's not the OS. It's not the Applications. It's not the Vendor. It's the Data. With clean, accessible data, you can change the OS, the App or the Vendor. Without clean, accessible data, you are beholden to whomever lets you read your data.

this. if I can still use that

Interesting would be if our little handheld devices used SD cards to store our data, accessing it only when we connected to the the cellular network in the sky...
posted by infini at 9:23 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Was I the only person who thought that scene was just really weird and freaky in FOTR?

That scene kinda made the trilogy for me, actually. The ring is a weapon of mass destruction. Gollum, Bilbo and Frodo haven't unlocked it yet, and maybe they never would have. But they're walking around with a hydrogen bomb on their finger. You don't really see how much power it could have until someone knowledgeable actually plugs into it for the first time.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:25 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


And now we should stop talking about Apple

Especially now that we have agreed they have a monopoly. Except when they don't. Or that they have a monopoly of bloggers. Apple has a blogopoly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:25 AM on June 28, 2010


...what makes my skin crawl is how well they use appealing design to enrapture people into overlooking everything.

Nah, I think they've hit on the fact that people just don't care about all the secret interworking details of systems. They just want to do what they want to do, which is usually mundane. They care more about the overall presentation as oppose to the narrow view of particular technical details.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apple pursues profit first and foremost, with marketshare as a side effect. I don't think they'd have any problem holding at 25% of the smartphone market, as long as they can be the Lexus/BMW that sits there and commands a premium price. Otherwise, I think we'd already have a Verizon/Sprint/T-Mobile iPhone in the US, as that's what really limits its marketshare right now.
posted by strange chain at 9:27 AM on June 28, 2010


> . Otherwise, I think we'd already have a Verizon/Sprint/T-Mobile iPhone in the US

I thought this wasn't already the case because AT&T has Apple's nuts in a contractual sling?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:29 AM on June 28, 2010


Anyway, cut the drama about Apple for gracious sakes. They make innovative products that are emulated (and often bettered in areas) and help bring the rest of the boats up with the tide. They want your money, and so does everyone else who hung up their sign. I'm looking forward to my more powerful Android/Chrome powered iPad knockoff with OLED screen sometime next year.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:32 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Think of the hardware and services you and the web had in 2000, and compare it with today.

Think of all the times "thin clients" have been pitched as the wave of the future, and all the $ that went up in flames.

Notice how our appliances are already anticipating our needs and pre-loading accordingly.

As appliances and infrastructure become ever cheaper ($), ever more powerful (MIPS/, MB/, W/in^3), and ever more reliable (except for the last hop?), we will carry MORE of those parts of the web that are useful to us, not less. Our appliances will manage our apps and content for us. No downside, but the upside of this model is you won't need a 100% reliable, always-on connection to the net. And that's a BIG upside.

Looking at the chart at the bottom of the second article, I think the only place anyone will be able to maintain a "lock" in the long term will be "Media Access" (IP rights) and "Monetization (secure payments)."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:41 AM on June 28, 2010


Oh, and the "operating system of the internet" is IOS. :)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:44 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apple makes well designed stuff with "no user serviceable parts" inside. The marketplace of people who don't like to fuck around with computer stuff has kind of made it clear that by and large this is what they want. Redemption: Apple welcomes folks to download the development environments so one can get out of the user mindset and into the tinker mindset. They could do better. But what they've got is manageable.

I'm glad there's an outlet for the software anarchists of the world with the cool open source devices -- it keeps the black hats from fucking up my "it just works" devices.

I mean, really, think about it: Apple's solution to the "this is why we can't have nice things" problem is: don't allow people to do bad things, but at the cost of not allowing them to do certain good things. In the abstract, it's a compelling bit of social engineering, and when it comes to sales figures it is clear that the market likes this approach.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:48 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The internet needs an operating system like the Web needed a version number.
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on June 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


So does that $99 a year MobileMe account guarantee they aren't looking at your data and selling information about you?
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:03 AM on June 28, 2010


This mostly seems like a rehash of everything most people in tech already know. It's a bit Tom-Friedmanesque. You tell people what they already know, or maybe for some people you put words into their heads for ideas that were just kind of bouncing around. That makes them feel smart when they read it.

Right now Apple is going for the high-end market segment. There's always going to be someone who pays $2000 for a T.V. that's slightly better then a $500 TV just because they want 'the best'. Apple wants to project an image of being "the best" and they invest a lot in maintaining that image, (whether or not they are the best is debatable but, as you can see, a lot of people have an emotional investment in believing it).


---
What Apple wants, I think
Nah, I think they've hit on the fact that people just don't care about all the secret interworking details of systems. They just want to do what they want to do, which is usually mundane.
No offense but this is the exact same argument that mac users were making 15 years ago. Back then it was actually fairly reasonable to point out how much fiddling and maintenance windows machines need. (But a the same time mac users did a lot of 'fiddling' too, installing extensions and extension managers, playing around with 'resource forks', etc) By the time windows got to 2000 and XP the difficulty kind of went away except the incredible amount of spyware out there, which required a lot of work to get rid of.

Anyway, it's not really that much of a problem any more, but honestly if you sit down in front of an PC running windows, or even a Linux machine running Unbuntu (supposedly), or have an android phone in your hands it's not hard to use. The lock-down stuff on the iPhone/iPad really has nothing to do with making the devices easier to use and harder to screw up.

It's not a tradeoff between easy/open. It's a trade off between profits/open. You don't need to remove the complicated stuff, you need to hide it by default.
posted by delmoi at 10:03 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


This makes me think Apple is Cate Blanchett: “Instead of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen, not dark but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Tempestuous as the sea, and stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!”

I think Tolkien might have agreed with you.

Was I the only person who thought that scene was just really weird and freaky in FOTR?

It's supposed to be. Though Galadriel is "good" and clearly sides with the protagonists, she isn't supposed to safe/tame, and even before that scene, I think the film did a good job of showing her imposing/intimidating side. But more important, in that scene, what you're really supposed to be scared of isn't her per se -- it's The Ring, and the look at what she would certainly become should she take it. Even her. There's a threshold of power beyond which nobody manages well.

And I think that's a good lesson in connection with Apple or Google or anyone in the market. I really like a lot of Apple's products, but I'd fear a world in which they really have the market power Microsoft has even now.

Fortunately, as others say, I don't think Apple's going to that place. There seems to be a line they don't cross: as control-freaky as they get with the iMobile devices, as possessive as they seem to be about their own platform, they don't seem to have the impulse to own a niche by kneecapping competitors.
posted by weston at 10:17 AM on June 28, 2010


Apple makes well designed stuff with "no user serviceable parts" inside. The marketplace of people who don't like to fuck around with computer stuff has kind of made it clear that by and large this is what they want. ...

I mean, really, think about it: Apple's solution to the "this is why we can't have nice things" problem is: don't allow people to do bad things, but at the cost of not allowing them to do certain good things. In the abstract, it's a compelling bit of social engineering, and when it comes to sales figures it is clear that the market likes this approach.
Well right, but it's not a technical strategy it's a marketing strategy. Apple says they close their systems to that they can't get messed up and stay easy to use. What exactly are the "Bad things" that you can do on an android phone that you can't do on an iPhone, exactly? Run down the battery playing flash games? Download pornographic apps? What?


It's true that there were mistakes Microsoft made in the way windows was setup by default that allowed spyware and crap to flourish in the early 2000s. But they weren't technical problems, they were choices Microsoft made in order to preserve compatibility. But those mistakes don't need to be included in new systems at all. And with the modern technology available today it's easy to keep programs from messing with each other or the system.

Apple sells an image, and of course people who don't know a lot about computers have no way of evaluating that image, so of course they're just going to go with marketing hype. Like I said, it's the exact same image apple has been presenting for at least the last 15 years, probably since the mac first came out. It's had less and less merit, IMO, over that time and at this time I think it's fairly moot.

---

So the question I would ask is, what specifically makes an android phone require that you tinker with it or know more about how it works internally? What specifically makes the iPhone easier to use then android, and what specifically are the "bad things" that a neophyte might accidentally do to their android phone because of being able to do 'the good stuff'.

(And of course, you can do whatever you want on a Macintosh without restriction, so Apple fans seem to be in the strange position of arguing against the mac in order to support the iPad/iPhone as a platform. Mac vs. PC is largely an aesthetic debate at this point, but you can certainly do whatever you want on either platform)
posted by delmoi at 10:17 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


But more important, in that scene, what you're really supposed to be scared of isn't her per se -- it's The Ring, and the look at what she would certainly become should she take it. Even her. There's a threshold of power beyond which nobody manages well.

You reading this, Apple & Google? We love you and think you're both swoony, but you still haven't convinced us that you wouldn't be corrupted by the Ring.
posted by Aquaman at 10:24 AM on June 28, 2010


Fortunately, as others say, I don't think Apple's going to that place. There seems to be a line they don't cross: as control-freaky as they get with the iMobile devices, as possessive as they seem to be about their own platform, they don't seem to have the impulse to own a niche by kneecapping competitors.
Is that why they're suing HTC over multitouch? Apple isn't in a position to kneecap their competitors because their competitors aren't writing software for their platform (the way Microsoft's competitors were) for the most part. When their competitors do they certainly have run into problems.

For example, the whole Google voice thing. The whole Flash thing and now iAds. When large companies that apple sees as a competitor to them write software to support iOS devices, they can and do get burned.
posted by delmoi at 10:25 AM on June 28, 2010


What exactly are the "Bad things" that you can do on an android phone that you can't do on an iPhone, exactly? Run down the battery playing flash games? Download pornographic apps? What?

It's "Bad things" for users and developers. From Electronista:

"At least 29 apps on Android Market have system level access that would be considered spyware on a PC, S Mobile Systems claimed in a warning study. When installed, the app group gave enough permission that they could represent serious privacy and security breaches. In one example, a mobile banking app was deliberately malicious and ultimately sent login data from an account to the developer's site." (emph. added)

From Jon "DeCSS" Johansen:

"Earlier this week, CNET ran an article critical of the permission model of the Android Market. Google’s response to the criticism was that “each Android app must get users’ permission to access sensitive information”. While this is technically true, one should not need a PhD in Computer Science to use a smartphone. How is a consumer supposed to know exactly what the permission “act as an account authenticator” means? The CNET opinion piece “Is Google far too much in love with engineering?” is quite relevant here.

"Google does far too little curation of the Android Market, and it shows. Unlike Apple’s App Store, the Android Market has few high quality apps... Trademark and copyright infringement is widespread in the Android Market... These apps are damaging to companies that are building legitimate Android music apps (e.g Rdio, Spotify and MOG), not to mention Amazon whose MP3 store comes bundled with most Android phones in the U.S. Is Google’s strategy to turn a blind eye to illegal music downloading until they launch their own music store?"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:35 AM on June 28, 2010


So does that $99 a year MobileMe account guarantee they aren't looking at your data and selling information about you?

Pretty much, since payment makes it optional from the start — you don't need a MobileMe account to use the Apple-built applications on the iPhone. In contrast, a Google account is a requirement for accessing email, calendar and other Google applications on the Android phones.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:38 AM on June 28, 2010


And of course, you can do whatever you want on a Macintosh without restriction, so Apple fans seem to be in the strange position of arguing against the mac in order to support the iPad/iPhone as a platform.

Nah, it's more like I personally don't see the iOS restrictions as a big problem, because I rarely hit the limits.

Apple sells an image, and of course people who don't know a lot about computers have no way of evaluating that image, so of course they're just going to go with marketing hype.

The point is that they don't want to have to know a lot about computers to use their fancy gizmo.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:51 AM on June 28, 2010


You know, Tim O'Reilly is a thoughtful guy who's written a lot of thought-provoking stuff, including this article. But the substance of the article -- that a meta-operating system will provide certain kinds of services -- distinct from "cloud computing", and that there are specific dealmakers that will breed success in this new environment, are being completely ignored here.

It's a shame that the pro-and-anti-Apple/Google people are having a furious kneejerkathon while there's a lot more interesting stuff to talk about. But perhaps this is just another illustration of the ever-growing divide between consumers and creators (or worse... service providers)... and that's precisely the divide that these platform-level approaches seek to expand.

I'm an enthusiastic user of the Internet, and sometimes I have the sense that I'm bordering on using an Internet Operating System similar to what Tim describes. But there's no way I think that my helpful little Droid represents anything other than a "Faustian bargain" in the most dire sense of the phrase.
posted by fake at 10:51 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every time I click one of those radar.oreilly.com links I half expect Gary Burghoff to be featured somehow. But this, this is compelling. It does feel as if this is going to boil down to which company you'd rather share all your information. Giving it won't be a choice; the recipient at least will.

And this technologically connected culture will happily carry around the illusion of choice in the name of brand loyalty or something. And the fact that they can become Mayor of another local establishment in Foursquare just helps the acceptance along. (Foursquare is a brilliant concept; free word-of-mouth advertising over a large and active messaging community. Too bad it can be quite annoying in practice to those who don't play.)

I feel rather odd and old-fashioned when I say that I don't have this constant need to know where everybody is and what they're doing at any given particular time, and I have no desire to constantly broadcast my whereabouts and goings-on.

Unless I have a reason to share what I'm doing.

Then I want to.

And I make that choice.

Ay-yi-yi.

Now I really wish Gary Burghoff were here. I'm sure he could say something reassuring. He has a clipboard.
posted by Spatch at 10:52 AM on June 28, 2010


I do love how Apple is evil, so don't use the App Store, but it's okay to put all of your email and documents on Google.

Google has one amazing thing going for it in this case. When you use Google tools Google makes it very easy to migrate away from them if you so desire. What to stop using gmail? Use pop or imap to grab all your old mail and you are off. Want to stop using Google's contact lists? They let you export them in several standards. Want to use Chrome but don't want it telling Google about you? Totally doable. (You do miss things like auto complete searches in the menu bar, but that's the price.) Want to turn off the Google ads? You can dl a plugin to do that and Google is fine with it.

Get an android phone and you can turn off letting Google know about you. You lose features yes, but that's because they rely on just that symbiosis. Almost no-one is going to use a third party app store, but the option exists, which means if Google oversteps their bounds you can work around them

With Google I feel like the bargain is that they give you cool stuff, and you pay in advertising. But if you decide that's not worth it, Google use standards that prevent vendor lockins. That's pretty much the best you can ask for. If you don't want to pay for your applications via advertising, then go out there and pay for the tools you want. It's not like there's a dearth of options.
posted by aspo at 10:54 AM on June 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


Your favorite corporation is more evil than mine.
posted by symbioid at 10:57 AM on June 28, 2010


In contrast, a Google account is a requirement for accessing email, calendar and other Google applications on the Android phones.

Wrong. A Google account is required to use gmail, and sync your calender with your Google account. (Gee, who would have guessed?) Earlier builds of android were much more reliant on having a Google account, but these days you can just not log in to Google and the phone will work great. (That being said I don't think stock android comes with a built in non gmail mail application, but most of the vendors have one built in, and there's several in the app store.)
posted by aspo at 10:58 AM on June 28, 2010


these days you can just not log in to Google and the phone will work great

I never said the phone won't work. I said that you can't use the Google applications without the Google account, which I'm fairly certain is accurate. This is in contrast to MobileMe, which is entirely optional.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:01 AM on June 28, 2010


honestly if you sit down in front of an PC running windows, or even a Linux machine running Unbuntu (supposedly), or have an android phone in your hands it's not hard to use.

There's so much anecdotage opposing this view that it's practically data. A PC running Windows is hard to use. It's less hard to use than it used to be, but as far as computers go it is not the easiest, and compared to something like iOS it's magnitudes harder to use (as is Mac OS X).

"Hiding" complexity is no answer either, by the way. It just means that users get the feeling they're not in charge, that there's misery lurking just beneath the surface that they're going to need an expert to handle for them. It makes them afraid, which is a feeling they'll happily pay to avoid. And are.
posted by bonaldi at 11:03 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


that there's misery lurking just beneath the surface that they're going to need an expert to handle for them. It makes them afraid, which is a feeling they'll happily pay to avoid. And are.

Well put.
posted by fake at 11:12 AM on June 28, 2010


I agree with fake, there's more going on in this article than Apple-v-Google, I'm sorry if I contributed to the thread going nowhere.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:14 AM on June 28, 2010


This is in contrast to MobileMe, which is entirely optional.

So, if the Google applications were a $99/year add-on you wouldn't have this problem?
posted by aspo at 11:20 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I'd prefer the monopolist that makes money off selling hardware over the one that traffics in user information."

This is a false dichotomy.
posted by Eideteker at 11:25 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apparently this is another thread where Metafilter lashes out incoherently and illogically against Apple for making the iPhone Blazecock gets his panties in a bunch because of one anti-Apple comment and a lot of reasoned Apple criticism.

Apologies if you were just playing the part of jerkoff fanboi facetiously.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:35 AM on June 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I agree with fake, there's more going on in this article than Apple-v-Google

*cradles iPhone* whispers "It's not true, it's not true, they're lying, my precious, lying!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:02 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, if the Google applications were a $99/year add-on you wouldn't have this problem?

That and if the Google applications could be used with non-Google accounts directly, I would say they would in that case be "opt-out" and therefore would be equivalent to MobileMe, in that users would have a direct option with both Google and MobileMe to decide their level of comfort with the privacy implications and choose to pay or to select from ad-supported or other paid alternatives. To my knowledge, that is not the case now with the Google applications — either you sign in to Google's cloud or you find a workaround, if one is available for your service of interest.

All of that said, I have and use a Gmail account, so it's not like I'm anti-Google. Just that choice is a nice thing, and I don't believe Google would remain a benevolent dictator for long, if the shareholders one day demanded further monetization of all the juicy private data that Google has been harvesting all these years.

A bigger problem than Google and Apple, it seems to me, is that we have no significant privacy laws in the United States, so we get all kinds of obscure Terms of Service changes that could be handing over all kinds of rights, whether we pay directly to these cloud services, or pay them through ad revenue.

Interestingly, O'Reilly's article only barely touches upon privacy issues, almost as an afterthought. As in most of these discussions, monetization ("usability" or features that bring users) almost always comes before any mention of privacy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:05 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nah, it's more like I personally don't see the iOS restrictions as a big problem, because I rarely hit the limits.

Right, but the point that they are there has nothing to do with making the device work better or be easier. It's there to control the distribution channel. Pretending that there is a tradeoff between the too, or that it's there for your benefit is the problem.

The point is that they don't want to have to know a lot about computers to use their fancy gizmo.

Yes, I understand that. But the point is that using other devices doesn't require any more knowledge of the device either. Apple markets an image of a device that's easy to use, that doesn't actually make it any easier to use then other phones.

---
Get an android phone and you can turn off letting Google know about you. You lose features yes, but that's because they rely on just that symbiosis. Almost no-one is going to use a third party app store, but the option exists, which means if Google oversteps their bounds you can work around them
There's nothing stopping you from creating and using a 3rd party app store on Android. here's one right here. They exist and you can use them, although I don't know why anyone would.

---

Now onto Blazecock Pileon's disingenuous FUD:
"At least 29 apps on Android Market have system level access that would be considered spyware on a PC, S Mobile Systems claimed in a warning study. When installed, the app group gave enough permission that they could represent serious privacy and security breaches. In one example, a mobile banking app was deliberately malicious and ultimately sent login data from an account to the developer's site." (emph. added)
It's perfectly clear when you install applications what they can and can't do. You seem something like "Services that cost you money: send and receive text messages". Or "your personal information: contact list." There are apps designed to help you mange text messages, or your contact list. That's what they're supposed to do and it's very clear what they do when you install it

What your quoting is a trolling press release from a company who's website has a 300k alexia rank. To put that into perspective That means the company that put out the press release gets about 1/150th of the traffic metafilter does. They're trolling for press coverage, and they got it on a relatively tiny blog you linked too. The "One should not need a PhD in computer science" link isn't even ranked, it gets an undetectable level of traffic.

I can google "iPhone Spyware just as easily as you can "Android Spyware" and find stuff like this
:
In a blog post this morning, the Dev Team explained that code from analytics firm Pinch Media within some iPhone apps is "specifically designed to track your geographical location through time, then upload that data to Pinch Media." They ... note that the app will first ask permission to use your location information. Once this permission is granted, user location information is transmitted to whomever is tracking the app's usage via Pinch Analytics
Or this:
Careful, iPhone users: Your smart phone may be smarter than you think.
On Thursday researchers at Finnish cybersecurity firm F-Secure said they have spotted the first known instance of iPhone "spyware" called Mobile Spy, a piece of commercial software that sells for $99 a year.
Except unlike you're link if actually heard of F-Secure, and forbs magazine. But look the question isn't "Can I google something and find a vaguely scary sound quote regardless of the quality of the source". It's what the actual risk is. Both apple and android platforms allow apps to get some personal information, and both make it clear what, exactly, is being accessed. That fact that someone, somewhere on the internet has made vaguely scary sounding statements about android isn't proof that there is a spyware problem on android, anymore then the fact that there is an obvious SEO campaign for some so-called "iPhone spyware" you can supposedly buy means that it actually works.

But as far as the "googling random stuff" metric of phone safety, iPhones are just as susceptible to spyware as android phones.


TL;DR: BP was quoting random stuff from random websites (in one case an actively misleading press release from a company tiny trolling for coverage) in order to make Android look bad, without regard for accuracy. And doing the same thing for iPhone, you can find all sorts of similar claims, many which seem to be from an SEO campaign 'selling' software you can supposedly use to spy on people with iPhones, but also an article from Forbes.
---
posted by delmoi at 12:58 PM on June 28, 2010


Afaik, Nokia has the upper hand in their patent fight with Apple, Slap*Happy. Nokia has an extremely powerful patent portfolio that's far more relevant for the phone industry. Apple must surely have the upper hand vs. HTC of course, but maybe google will give HTC some help.

I've always felt the whole internet operating system was an extremely bad idea, automatic off site backups and version control are very good ideas, but honestly we're just morons for giving away so much data.

That said, Google and Nokia are the only even vaguely respectably non-evil multi-nationals. I'll therefore use their products without worrying too much, lesser evil and all that.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:59 PM on June 28, 2010


Now onto Blazecock Pileon's disingenuous FUD

It's not my FUD, it's someone else's FUD!

BP was quoting random stuff from random websites (in one case an actively misleading press release from a company tiny trolling for coverage) in order to make Android look bad, without regard for accuracy.

On a more serious note, if there was nothing to worry about regarding privileges and applications doing things they're not supposed to, Google would not have had to quietly pull the remote trigger on a pair of Android applications last week.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:04 PM on June 28, 2010


I've got a Palm Pre, here's an interesting little tidbit...

I met a new person, got their phone number and e-mail address (a yahoo account) and added it into my phone's contact list.

Since the Pre links to Google (by default all services, contacts, calendar, e-mail, etc.) the next time I logged into YouTube I got a message:

Hello odinsdream! Would you like to subscribe to New Person's youtube account?

That's just creepy, even if it wasn't Google's intention. I can bet that my neighbor didn't think that by giving me her Yahoo e-mail address that it was an invitation to see her YouTube videos, but that's not the way Google sees it.
posted by odinsdream at 1:05 PM on June 28, 2010


You reading this, Apple & Google? We love you and think you're both swoony, but you still haven't convinced us that you wouldn't be corrupted by the Ring.

Well, yes, we know that even Steve Jobs was seduced by the commercial power of the Ring.
posted by The Bellman at 1:10 PM on June 28, 2010


Right, but the point that they are there has nothing to do with making the device work better or be easier.

Wrong. If it was about nothing more than control of the distribution channel they could have done it without the many restrictions that drive developers so batty. If you think it's not also about controlling the software that gets on the machine you've absolutely no understanding of Apple. You wouldn't be alone there, but to think they're a Microsoft-style cash-and-solely-cash company is to make a mistake.

But the point is that using other devices doesn't require any more knowledge of the device either. Apple markets an image of a device that's easy to use, that doesn't actually make it any easier to use then other phones.

Going to need to prove this assertion; especially in the face of the market. They sold six iPhones a second over the past three days. Thinking "that's nothing but marketing" is the second mistake to make when considering Apple. Is marketing hugely important to it? Yes. Is there a steak there to be sold? Yes.

The "One should not need a PhD in computer science" link isn't even ranked, it gets an undetectable level of traffic.

Good thing ad hominems aren't ranked by Alexa, eh?
posted by bonaldi at 1:30 PM on June 28, 2010


I was following along until TOR wrote about billing systems, and displayed an impressively profound, US-centric ignorance of the major players in the global mobile billing infrastructure. Google's ad juice is but one way to pay for services, and in mobile it's still a very minor player. Outside the US, in the world of chip and pin and top-ups and pay SIMs, interlocked corporate intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regard the relatively small and carrier-isolated, severely balkanised US market with mildly interested eyes, and slowly and surely draw their plans against it.
posted by meehawl at 1:33 PM on June 28, 2010


This is a lot of why smart technical people find the iPhone so threatening. We've been through it all with Microsoft, and Apple will be a far more terrible monopolist than Microsoft ever was.
posted by Malor


They're smart people because they agree with you? What about the smart technical people that don't agree with you? Or are they not smart technical people because if they WERE they would agree with you? It's amazing that such a ridiculous, content free, appeal to authority could garner so many favorites. Then again, being metafilter, not.

what makes my skin crawl is how well they use appealing design to enrapture people into overlooking everything... here's an ongoing debate right now.
posted by infini


It's a debate among a tiny percentage of people that probably don't even use iPhones. And I love that the writer of the article concludes that the iPhone is the 'best smart phone on the market'. And it's amazing that the choices other people make, for different reasons, makes your skin crawl.

there's a valid point in what you say but what Apple does seem to have a monopoly on is the mindshare of MSM, analysts, fanboi tech blog writers et al that tends to drown out any sound of any other tree in that very large global forest and makes people forget that its just one tree out of a hundred (as a stretch analogy of their marketshare to mindshare ratio)
posted by infini


Ahh, not it makes sense. You're one of them. As soon as a writer uses the word 'fanboi' I tune out.

Microsoft didn't really put much effort into owning the media distribution pipeline the way apple seems to be doing.
posted by shmegegge


Because they suck at at it. You don't think they'd want to? They've made several attempts that have failed miserable. It's just not something they've done well.

I think Apple has a decent head-start, but they know they're an also-ran as Android catches and surpasses the iPhone and iPad. The same economics that doomed the Mac to second-best are at play - the only real difference is that with Jobs at the helm, it won't be as one-sided. When it all shakes out, Apple will keep a quarter of the market, Android 50%, and Rim, MSFT, HP and Nokia filling out the remaining 25%.
posted by Slap*Happy


Well, I mean, no shit. Android is going to be on dozens of phones, with prices all over the board. iOS will be on one phone, at two price points. If Apple wanted to fight microsoft for numbrers, they'd put out a 500 macbook. They'd put iOS on multiple phones over multiple carriers. It's not about numbers, it's about profit.

The lock-down stuff on the iPhone/iPad really has nothing to do with making the devices easier to use and harder to screw up.It's not a tradeoff between easy/open. It's a trade off between profits/open. You don't need to remove the complicated stuff, you need to hide it by default.
posted by delmoi


Sure it is. You have a tough time seeing the world from other views, and because of that you make ridiculous statements. Give an iPhone and an Android phone to a middle aged non tech mom and I promise you the iPhone is easier to understand. When android comes out with a tablet computer I promise you it will be less polished and more difficult to use than the ipad.

You want proof, and yet it's not one thing. It's a hundred tiny things put together. It doesn't make a difference to you because tech is your thing. It does make a difference to others.

What exactly are the "Bad things" that you can do on an android phone that you can't do on an iPhone, exactly?
posted by delmoi


You gleefully shot down BP's example, but he's dead right. Even if it's overblown, the possibility is there for 'bad things' to happen. The android app store is having a tough time, and apple fans aren't saying that; developers that depend on the android app store are. You're not seriously going to stick your head in the sand and claim they have no idea what they're talking about are you?

Apple sells an image, and of course people who don't know a lot about computers have no way of evaluating that image, so of course they're just going to go with marketing hype. Like I said, it's the exact same image apple has been presenting for at least the last 15 years, probably since the mac first came out. It's had less and less merit, IMO, over that time and at this time I think it's fairly moot.
posted by delmoi


Mathowie uses mac hardware, merlin mann, gruber... I could go on. Plenty of people that use macs know 'a lot about computers'. I can use and understand any os, but I choose to use a mac. Your whole spiel that people only use macs because of image is old, and tired, and ignorant, and insulting. I have no idea why you use what you use, and I don't care, nor do I believe I have some idea why. That you believe you know why I, or anyone else uses a mac, is a delusion in your head.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 1:55 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because they suck at at it. You don't think they'd want to? They've made several attempts that have failed miserable. It's just not something they've done well.

huh. much as I admire the "take on all comers" tone of your comment, let me just say that that's kind of what I was getting at. Microsoft became a near monopoly on desktop OSes because that was "the thing" when they came to prominence. apple was there that whole time, but the thing that really brought apple to prominence was boutique (for lack of a better word) machines like the first imacs and mostly the ipod and iphone. their focus shifted to those devices for what I imagine was all part of the plan to create something like the itunes store and the app store for content delivery that they would own the access to, and to make that become the default way to get content instead of a tv or record store. the foresight for that is mind boggling. but microsoft didn't shift their focus that way, having already achieved their desktop prominence, and is now failing at playing catch up. that is what I meant.
posted by shmegegge at 2:23 PM on June 28, 2010




this. if I can still use that

No.
posted by Evilspork at 3:11 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sitting 25 feet from me right now is a durable vinyl laptop bag with the opaque, unGoogleable inscription "Windows System Design Review 1996" and a Microsoft logo.

It really is from 1996 but it looks brand new today. It's the most durable schwag I've ever seen-- based on the price of a similar bag I just bought, it probably cost upward of $100 for Microsoft to supply. It belongs to my dad and he uses it every day.

A few years ago I asked my dad, "Why do you have that bag? You were working at Lotus, not Microsoft." He gave an interesting answer which is quite pertinent to this Apple-Microsoft analogy, so I reinterviewed him just now.

Says Dad, "There is the Professional Developers Conference, the PDC. The PDC was a conference you had to pay to go to. You, as a platform developer, would go to find out what Microsoft was doing from their technical executives. When you learned what Microsoft was doing with Windows you would change your product to support those features; when the new release came out, you'd be one of the initial supporters. It was in an enormous room where everyone watched the presentation at once. It wasn't in their interest to hide anything, because Windows as a platform had few competitors.

"But that was the official event; they'd announce new features at a sort of seminar, and hand out the slides so you could take notes on the features. This other conference, the System Design Review, was an invitation-only meeting where they picked out who they wanted to have go."

Me: "So they had just the CTOs go, right?" (This is a leading question. I'm not a very good interviewer.)

Dad: "They had the senior technical people go, who were good at what they did, for example Ray Ozzie. The people who wrote the platforms and languages at Netware and Borland. They'd sit in a room, a small classroom, and for three days they'd go over everything they were doing including ideas that might not make it, and listen to feedback from developers, and use the developer knowledge to decide which projects they should proceed with. It was a very technical and very detailed meeting.

"They spent a lot of money on developer relations; they'd pass out CDs with almost all the code Microsoft had ever written, on a subscription program to make sure all the developers had their code."

Me: "MSDN, right?"

Dad: "Yeah. They spent almost as much money marketing to developers as they did to the general public. What they would do at this small conferences would invite very senior developers who were competent technically, but who never got to talk to the top executives at their companies. But at this conference they were able to talk to Bill Gates and Ballmer, the top executives at Microsoft. Because Gates and Ballmer were technical guys, they could make a sort of bond. So that would help the technical people feel tied to Windows. And eventually Windows was the only platform you wanted to develop for [because nobody else was involving developers like this].

"They'd also have more specific conferences, voicemail for example, so that they could make sure all the voicemail systems, PBXes, would be running on Windows. This was before the Internet. They would say they were developing one platform for all computer-telephony software, and so forth. Then you'd go back to recommend to your company what they ought to do, based on what Microsoft told you you ought to do."

He does think that Apple has made a smart product, but it's pretty similar to what Microsoft was doing.
posted by shii at 4:19 PM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Windows 8 leak:

In particular, one slide titled "How Apple Does It: A Virtuous Cycle," talks about the need for simplicity in design. "Apple brand is known for high quality, uncomplicated, 'it just works,'" the slide says, adding that "This is something people will pay for!"

Even Microsoft themselves realize what Apple does well, that there IS a difference between philosophies.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 4:53 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Right, but the point that they are there has nothing to do with making the device work better or be easier. It's there to control the distribution channel.

It's not an either/or, could be both or more. Like it or hate, Apple is following a design philosophy that involves the entire experience, from shopping for to using the device to shopping for Apps. That tight control helps maintain their curated garden, which certain people (not everyone) seem to like.

Example: It's vastly easier to have only one place to go for Apps, than to be searching all over the web for them

Yes, I understand that. But the point is that using other devices doesn't require any more knowledge of the device either. Apple markets an image of a device that's easy to use, that doesn't actually make it any easier to use then other phones.

Just because you say the devices are equally easy to use doesn't make it so. For instance, video calling. The reviews on the Sprint EVO remark how you have to go find a third party app to install to make video calling work:
After two days of fiddling, downloading and uninstalling apps, manually force-quitting programs and waiting for servers to be upgraded, I finally got video calling to work — sort of. Sometimes there was only audio and a black screen, sometimes only a freeze-frame; at best, the video was blocky and the audio delay absurd.

To make video calling work, you have to install an app yourself: either Fring or Qik. But we never did get Fring to work, and Qik requires people you call to press a Talk button when they want to speak. The whole thing is confusing and, to use the technical term, iffy.
The reviews for the iPhone 4 remark how completely easy it to activate video calling.

It's those sort of differences, to use one example, that paint the iPhone as easier to use.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:02 PM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


shii: "Me: "MSDN, right?""

It's still a good deal for those that have to get this stuff: MS Technet 2010, between $170-$300 (depending on vendor) for basically all MS's stuff (including Windows 3.1!).
posted by meehawl at 5:09 PM on June 28, 2010


... a Google account is a requirement for accessing email, calendar and other Google applications on the Android phones.

Well, no. A Google account is a requirement for using the Gmail, Google Calendar and GTalk apps. But the stock Android 2.1 includes a generic mail client which'll work with IMAP/POP3 and a calendar client that works with anything supporting the ActiveSync calendaring protocol. As for the many, many other Google applications that come with the phone or can be downloaded separately, they only need a Google account if you'd need a Google account to use the service in the first place. For example, Maps doesn't require any account, but Voice does.

And, if you're concerned about advertising or Google reading your mail, you can use a GAFYD account instead of a free public Google Account. That's what I do, and it works very smoothly.

On a more serious note, if there was nothing to worry about regarding privileges and applications doing things they're not supposed to, Google would not have had to quietly pull the remote trigger on a pair of Android applications last week.

You mean the two apps that didn't actually do anything, and had already been withdrawn from the Android Market by the researchers who put them there?

You have a tough time seeing the world from other views, and because of that you make ridiculous statements. Give an iPhone and an Android phone to a middle aged non tech mom and I promise you the iPhone is easier to understand.

That hasn't been my experience, but I suppose anyone who might disagree with you is simply making ridiculous statements. I gave both to a middle-aged non-tech person (my partner) and he finds the Android phone just as easy to use. In some respects, easier to use - mail and calendaring, for example. And the Android phone I gave him was about as crappy as they get - a Droid Eris - running Android 1.6. Games are much better on the iPhone, though, and he misses that. Many of my coworkers - some very non-technical - have also recently switched from the iPhone to Android - mostly because of ATT's awful network - and haven't had any problems figuring out how to do all the same things they did on their old phones. The interfaces are very similar, so it's easy enough to go from one to the other.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:26 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Give an iPhone and an Android phone to a middle aged non tech mom and I promise you the iPhone is easier to understand.

Good Christ, you make Android sound like it's Gnu Emacs. It's got icons; you touch them and applications start. The phone has a little receiver symbol and is labeled "Phone". The browser is labeled "Browser" and Gmail is labeled "Gmail". It's really pretty simple. And considering that they're activating 160,000 Android devices a day, I'd say that lots a people are figuring them out.
posted by octothorpe at 7:35 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter lashes out incoherently and illogically against Apple for making the iPhone.

I don't think so. It might not be completely coherent yet, but the vision of what is quickly becoming possible (ala codacorolla) may be partly or fully realized unless consumers understand the deal they're making.

iPhone apps have to be approved. As a result Apple can and has censored content. If they had it their way, jailbreaking would be illegal. You do not get to decide what software you can run, they do. Until recently you couldn't remove the battery or shut off the phone broadcasting your location. Storing your personal information in the cloud means that you have to trust the storer to protect it. (There's no reason to extend said trust, as years of mega data-loss from corps and gov agencies has demonstrated.) Etc. etc.

It's -immaterial- whether this is happening on Apple, except to the extent that their market position encourages others to create similar products. There's nothing new about what worries 'smart technical people' - the battle was enuciated by Richard Stallman in 1985. To quote only one small part:
Extracting money from users of a program by restricting their use of it is destructive because the restrictions reduce the amount and the ways that the program can be used. This reduces the amount of wealth that humanity derives from the program. When there is a deliberate choice to restrict, the harmful consequences are deliberate destruction.
I'll just point out that OSX was based in -free- Unix.
posted by Twang at 9:59 PM on June 28, 2010


A Google account is a requirement for using the Gmail, Google Calendar and GTalk apps.

I appreciate that you are confirming that what I wrote is factually correct.

But the stock Android 2.1

Most (70%?) Android phones out there now are not running 2.1 due to cell phone companies charging for upgrades, if they make updates available at all. Indeed, most v1 phones will never be updated.

Apple can and has censored content

Google has culled content, as was shown last week. This is not automatically a bad thing, per se.

That said, the use of the term "censorship" borders on hyperbolic, since governments censor. Apple is not out to destroy free speech and it damages your credibility to imply that they are.

Until recently you couldn't...shut off the [iPhone] broadcasting your location.

To the contrary, it has always been an option to shut off location services to apps, ever since the feature was available in iOS 3.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:14 PM on June 28, 2010


..interlocked corporate intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regard the relatively small and carrier-isolated, severely balkanised US market with mildly interested eyes, and slowly and surely draw their plans against it....

See why I love MeFi? On how many other forums could you crib from a century-old SF work knowing full well it'd be spotted in a nanosecond?

Anyway: let's just sure that we don't -kill off the bacteria that will save us- ...
posted by Twang at 10:20 PM on June 28, 2010


Since it might be of interest to anyone willign to labor this far into this contentious thread, there are several veeeeeeeery interesting tidbits in this - How Open is Android? Does anyone know anyone who could explain to us how accurate it is? Is Lee Felsenstein lurking out there?
posted by Twang at 10:48 PM on June 28, 2010


Going to need to prove this assertion; especially in the face of the market. They sold six iPhones a second over the past three days.
What a weirdly arbitrary measure. Why not just say 1.5 million phones? Also why should I prove my assertion when you're to lazy to even bring any evidence to the table on this one:
Wrong. If it was about nothing more than control of the distribution channel they could have done it without the many restrictions that drive developers so batty. If you think it's not also about controlling the software that gets on the machine you've absolutely no understanding of Apple. You wouldn't be alone there, but to think they're a Microsoft-style cash-and-solely-cash company is to make a mistake.
I mean, you're not actually saying anything other then your personal opinion about what motivates Apple.
Good thing ad hominems aren't ranked by Alexa, eh?
Turns out they are. Why do we care what some random blog has to say on an issue? The actual content didn't have anything to do with the link either, it was someone complaining about copyright infringement in the android market.
Give an iPhone and an Android phone to a middle aged non tech mom and I promise you the iPhone is easier to understand. -- Dennis Murphy
When Ellen DeGeneres made a sketch about how hard it was for her to use her iPhone apple got all pissy made her apologize. It's not all that clear that true non-technical people actually find the iPhone that easy to use, and frankly true non technical users are going to stick with plain old 'feature' phones (as they're called now). That's what so weird about the "Computer for people who hate computers!" stuff. People who hate computers don't buy them.

Anyway, the android interface was transparent for me. Trying to figure out how easy or difficult an interface is for a 'non-technical' person would be like trying to figure out how hard a book is to read would be to understand by people who can't read. All the people running around claiming to know what it's like are a little ridiculous. I certainly haven't usability comparison between android phones and iPhones for non-technical people, and I know you haven't either. But you're certain of the results. Why? Because you've drunk the apple kool aide.
Mathowie uses mac hardware, merlin mann, gruber... I could go on. Plenty of people that use macs know 'a lot about computers'. -- Dennis Murphy
Yeah... I never said they didn't. I was responding to this:
Apple makes well designed stuff with "no user serviceable parts" inside. The marketplace of people who don't like to fuck around with computer stuff has kind of made it clear that by and large this is what they want -- seanmpuckett
It's not my problem if you guys can't keep your arguments straight
That you believe you know why I, or anyone else uses a mac, is a delusion in your head.
Only if by "you" you mean seanmpuckett, who was the one who claimed that mac users bought macs because they didn't like knowing how they computers worked. It's not my fault you can't read.
Just because you say the devices are equally easy to use doesn't make it so. For instance, video calling. The reviews on the Sprint EVO remark how you have to go find a third party app to install to make video calling work: -- Brandon Blatcher
Yeah, but on the other hand you can hold it however you like, so it kind of evens out.
A Google account is a requirement for using the Gmail, Google Calendar and GTalk apps.

I appreciate that you are confirming that what I wrote is factually correct.
BP, no offense but you seem confused here. In what way is "you have to have a gmail account to access gmail" a valid criticism of Android? Even my old G1 has a separate 'email' app for regular email.

---
No.
Awesome.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 PM on June 28, 2010


Why do we care what some random blog has to say on an issue?

That "random blog" I cited is a blog by Jon Johansen, not exactly a font of pro-Apple sentiment. Seriously, you two could go bowling, you'd probably get along so well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:57 PM on June 28, 2010


Most (70%?) Android phones out there now are not running 2.1 due to cell phone companies charging for upgrades, if they make updates available at all.

Blaze, you really need to stop making up facts. According to google 50% of all android phones are running 2.1. And I'm pretty sure you live in the United States. I don't know of a single carrier that is charging for android updates.
posted by aspo at 12:18 AM on June 29, 2010


I'm not making up facts, sorry, just citing some older data from memory. But my larger point stands about upgrading, I believe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:40 AM on June 29, 2010


Also why should I prove my assertion when you're to lazy to even bring any evidence to the table on this one

Because otherwise all you'll be doing is blowing your own opinion hard, as ever? Oh, wait:

I mean, you're not actually saying anything other then your personal opinion about what motivates Apple.

Are you being ironic? Where is your evidence beyond your personal opinion that the App Store is only about control of the distribution channel? Christ you play some dirty pool.

Either way, as for evidence: the many, many app rejections are evidence enough that this is about something more than control of distribution. If they just want control of the distribution channel, they could still require apps be signed, but not vet what gets on the store. The nature and kind of their rejections shows their interest in something larger.
posted by bonaldi at 2:24 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but on the other hand you can hold it however you like, so it kind of evens out.

Sure, until the crappy battery gives out.

See, we can do this all do all day, snarking about this or that feature.

If they had it their way, jailbreaking would be illegal.

Cite, please?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:40 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]




Those videos are both hilarious: "I want the one with more gee bees."

Also, did anyone actually read this article? I have no idea where all the Apple vs. Google GRAR came from. This is certainly not how I thought things would go. God damn it people.
posted by chunking express at 10:35 AM on June 29, 2010


Also, did anyone else actually read this article? I have no idea where all the Apple vs. Google GRAR came from. This is certainly not how I thought things would go. God damn it people.

now, where were we? ah yes, the future of the information operating system ... are there alternatives to what is being proposed in the article?
posted by infini at 11:06 AM on June 29, 2010


> It's true that there were mistakes Microsoft made in the way windows was setup by default that allowed spyware and crap to flourish in
> the early 2000s. But they weren't technical problems, they were choices Microsoft made in order to preserve compatibility.

I think it was more to permit IE (hence vendors) to track you and download things you don't want and run apps you don't know about and didn't permit; and in general to configure the browser and the underlying OS for the convenience of vendors trying to sell you shit, using your platform. So with all these levers right there to hand it seems bad guys pull them for bud-guy purposes? Quelle surprise! (ps I do solemnly swear that I am not now and never have been a member of the Mac-ist party. I do have a functioning Apple, but it ain't a Mac.)
posted by jfuller at 12:22 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no idea where all the Apple vs. Google GRAR came from.

It began with the 3rd comment of the thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:44 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


... and we come full circle to begin again...
posted by infini at 1:13 PM on June 29, 2010


I appreciate that you are confirming that what I wrote is factually correct.

Really? Perhaps you should save your appreciation for your future understanding of the word "tautology." Yes, you need a Google account to use Google applications that ONLY CONNECT TO GOOGLE SERVICES. I strongly suspect that the same is true on the iPhone. If you want to access Gmail from your iPhone, you'll need a Google account, no?

But again, on Android, you don't have to use Gmail or Gcal. You can use ... whatever.

Most (70%?) Android phones out there now are not running 2.1 due to cell phone companies charging for upgrades, if they make updates available at all. Indeed, most v1 phones will never be updated.

Nobody charges for upgrades. They either make them available or they don't. I mentioned 2.1 because that's what I have in front of me, but it turns out that 1.6, etc, also have generic mail apps. Surprisingly, even the crappy Droid Eris has an upgrade from 1.6 to 2.1, but my partner doesn't really care about that stuff so I've delayed upgrading it. Most smaller upgrades are OTA, though. And if you're moderately technically inclined, you can easily root your phone and install other ROMS. Google makes this pretty easy, and doesn't try to stop you, and neither do network providers so far.

Sure, until the crappy battery gives out.

At which point I'd pop it out and put another one in. You carry spare batteries for your iPhone, right? Oh, I guess not.

Your move!
posted by me & my monkey at 1:45 PM on June 29, 2010


You carry spare batteries for your iPhone, right?

Don't need to, it lasts all day, which the EVO seems to struggle with.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:06 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't need to, it lasts all day

OH ICE BURN
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:21 PM on June 29, 2010


Brandon Blatcher: " If they had it their way, jailbreaking would be illegal.
Cite, please?"

I know you're smarter than this, so this kind of ignorance can only be wilful:

Apple Says iPhone Jailbreaking is Illegal
posted by meehawl at 5:02 PM on June 29, 2010


I know you're smarter than this, so this kind of ignorance can only be wilful:

Nope, I'm aware of the story, but haven't heard anything about it lately, so I wanted to see if there was some new information anyone could provide.

It's less Apple coming out and saying it's legal and more the EFF wanting an exemption for jailbreakers and Apple wanting to retain control over apps on its devices. Reasonable people can disagree with Apple's desire to control that, fine. But when the EFF attempts to do an end run around Apple's policies for their devices, it's not surprising that Apple would retaliate and push the argument that jail-breaking is illegal.

To be completely clear, I'm not exactly thrilled with Apple's position here, but I understand it from the point of view of them wishing to retain complete control over the device and not allow any third party App to dictate the direction or profitability of the iOS devices (like the recent fight Adobe about Flash on the iOS).

In short, this is less APPLE IS EVIL and more legal boxing, IMO. Apple has decided that retaining tight control is good for its future and profitability. Others disagree and want to do things to get around Apple's restrictions, so of course Apple responds and ups the ante to keep control.

How this plays out should be interesting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:43 PM on June 29, 2010


"Hiding" complexity is no answer either, by the way. It just means that users get the feeling they're not in charge, that there's misery lurking just beneath the surface that they're going to need an expert to handle for them. It makes them afraid, which is a feeling they'll happily pay to avoid. And are.

Isn't this essentially what Apple has been doing for the life of the company? It's not like the settings aren't in the OS, even if there isn't an option for the user to get to them.

I don't have a lot of Mac experience, but I remember how frustrated I was around 2000 trying to diagnose why web page & FTP fetches on an iMac took twice as long as a PC on the same network. There were no advanced configuration options for the TCP/IP stack, so I had to find a third-party software package that would let me tweak MTU settings, etc... didn't help. Called Apple support, and the 2nd line tech told me I was way past anything they could help with. Called around for expert consultants, and had a hell of a time finding any for any price. The guy I finally found had no clue. Finally we threw up our hands and gave up on the platform entirely and said the application wan't supported on Macs given the higher latency. I guess if I were fully inculcated into the Mac culture I would have given up as soon as I saw there weren't any advanced TCP/IP settings and saved my company the consulting fees.

Anyway, my point isn't to bash Apple, which at least has a fair degree of consistency in their software design, but to say that unless the developers spend a hell of a lot of time and effort working on setting up self-optimizing settings in software, the complexity will always be there to trip you up, and even if it's automagically adjusted you probably are just getting a trade off where user training is less, but the chance of unpredictable bugs and side effects goes up.

Complexity is often irreducible, and a function of the problem set, rather than the implementation of the solution.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:47 PM on June 29, 2010


And damn, now I'm addressing the derail instead of the article. I think the take away lesson is that there needs to be more of an effort to develop usable data interchange standards with privacy controls that allow varying degrees of control over the same kind of data without the full vendor lock in. I'd like to see some kind of social networking option where I can take the same data and host it myself or on an ad or subscription supported server. Something that would allow me to either give up sole access to my data for no hosting fees, or preserve my privacy with a fee, or an intermediate step where my data can be accessed only long enough to be indexed for marketing keywords for ad supported.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:56 PM on June 29, 2010


Brandon Blatcher: "end run around Apple's policies for their devices, it's not surprising that Apple would retaliate and push the argument that jail-breaking is illegal."

I'm sorry, but I just can't follow your logic here. I appreciate the argument you make, and if I was running Apple, I'd sure want to retain as much control as possible over my products. But you are imputing ethical motives to a legal transaction based on your perceptions. The facts are that certain people do use reverse engineering and code decompilation to customise their purchased Apple products. Apparently within the USA, performing this this sort of reverse engineering can open you to criminal prosecution. A USA-based lobbying group used certain procedures specifically enacted for this purpose to seek an exemption from criminal prosecution for people attempting to learn or showing others how to customise their purchased Apple products a certain way. Apple responded by requesting that this customisation of Apple products should continue to be regarded as a criminal act. This was not "pushing the argument", but a corporation operating completely, predictably and entirely within its USA legal rights.

In the comments, you stated that Apple had never sought that "jailbreaking" be regarded as illegal. The public record shows that Apple has in fact argued specifically this point, and it has never retracted or modified this argument. Your attempt to divine an inner meaning to its actions, some kind of meta-narrative, is amusing but ultimately, I feel, unconvincing. I would sooner believe that Amazon, despite its early protestations, is a foe of the business method patent system (one-click notwithstanding).
posted by meehawl at 6:09 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This was not "pushing the argument", but a corporation operating completely, predictably and entirely within its USA legal rights.

I thought Apple hadn't publicly commented on the legality of jail breaking until the EFF asked for an exemption (Feb 2009).

Your attempt to divine an inner meaning to its actions, some kind of meta-narrative, is amusing but ultimately, I feel, unconvincing.

I think it's interesting to wonder what Apple is up to in this area and why. It's certainly a quirky company.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:26 PM on June 29, 2010


Don't need to, it lasts all day, which the EVO seems to struggle with.

I had no idea the EVO was the only Android phone. I get fine battery life on my Droid, but I also have the option to swap the battery if I need to. My coworker gets fine battery life on his Droid Incredible, about the same as his iPhone. But that's just another advantage of Android - you're not tied to a specific device from a specific manufacturer. If one phone doesn't work the way you want, there's always another. The corresponding disadvantage, of course, is that different phones have different OS versions, I guess.

It's less Apple coming out and saying it's legal and more the EFF wanting an exemption for jailbreakers and Apple wanting to retain control over apps on its devices.

When a company offers a device for sale, it's their device. When I buy it, it's my device. It's not their device any more.

I think it's interesting to wonder what Apple is up to in this area and why. It's certainly a quirky company.

There's nothing quirky about this. It's clear why they're doing what they're doing - it's in their best interest, and they're able to get away with it. If I were Steve Jobs, I'd probably do the same thing. But their best interest doesn't align with mine (or yours either, probably).

Google's also pursuing their best interest, but it just so happens that their best interest aligns more closely with their users, in my opinion. Google wants usage data, and they're willing to provide a lot to get that data. For Apple, on the other hand, this usage data is not their primary goal - they sell hardware and software and media.

I find it strange, to say the least, to watch Apple become a new, more stylish Microsoft, and to watch their fans excuse the same behavior they'd long condemned from Microsoft.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:49 PM on June 29, 2010


watch Apple become a new, more stylish Microsoft

Oh, bullshit. Apple isn't a monopoly. Shoo.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:33 PM on June 29, 2010


I had no idea the EVO was the only Android phone.

If you scroll, you'll see I was specifically comparing the EVO and iPhone 4.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:00 AM on June 30, 2010


Isn't this essentially what Apple has been doing for the life of the company? It's not like the settings aren't in the OS, even if there isn't an option for the user to get to them.

Quite the opposite, I think. As you found out with the MTU, often the settings aren't in the OS -- in the sense that if the user has no way of getting to them, they're fixed. It's this kind of thing that drives very technical people nuts, but it's a trade-off: remove (rather than hide) complexity where possible, and you lose edge-case flexibility while gaining overall simplicity.

A good example of this is the command line. Classic Macs didn't have one, which meant developers had to work harder to achieve the same result -- you can't even get away with telling even programmers to "do a ./make to install" as is becoming more common in the OS X days. Even now Mac advice blogs are apologetic when they have to tell people to do something via the Terminal.

Did that restrict the machine's power? Possibly. Did it force more creative and (arguably) friendlier solutions to problems? Definitely.

Unfortunately, the Mac came around at a time when that complexity could be reduced, but it really couldn't be removed completely: the TCP/IP control panel is a terrific example of that. But they're taking the same tack with iOS, where you can remove a lot of it.

There are no MTU settings in an iPad's preferences, just a list of wifi networks. I think there are people who want those sorts of preferences, and think they "could just be added and only power users would use them and other people could ignore them". I fear they're missing the point entirely. As is Android.
posted by bonaldi at 4:19 AM on June 30, 2010


Oh, bullshit. Apple isn't a monopoly. Shoo.

Bad behavior is bad whether it's done by a monopoly or by anyone else. The only difference is whether users can avoid that behavior and whether the government can address it.

If you scroll, you'll see I was specifically comparing the EVO and iPhone 4.

So? EVO != Android. Again, one of the benefits of Android is that you're not limited to one phone or one hardware manufacturer.

I think there are people who want those sorts of preferences, and think they "could just be added and only power users would use them and other people could ignore them". I fear they're missing the point entirely. As is Android.

But Android demonstrates pretty well that this approach works. You can use an Android phone without having to know anything about these settings. Most people do.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:11 AM on June 30, 2010


But Android demonstrates pretty well that this approach works. You can use an Android phone without having to know anything about these settings. Most people do.

Android doesn't demonstrate this any more than Window's 92% marketshare shows that Windows is easy to use. I've no idea how to prove or disprove the "most people do" thing, other than to note the number of multi-tasking managers, how-to blog posts and complaints in reviews about usability holes.

Android, it seems to me, is a phone that's very easy to use for technical people, and not that hard to use for normal people. That's Good Enough. The iPhone is (and aims to be) very easy to use for normal people. That's better.
posted by bonaldi at 11:06 AM on June 30, 2010


So? EVO != Android

No, EVO = EVO. Not all Android hardware is the same.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:45 AM on June 30, 2010


In May, O’Reilly gave this editorial as a talk, rearranging its themes somewhat. Still an underdeveloped vision of how the removes between web-enabled devices and the processes they activate add up to a new, abstracted operating system – shouldn’t timesharing in the '70s have given rise to such a space? But he connects observations with more lucidity here. Just tune out when he starts his trading-card-style rundown of the big five companies.

O’Reilly’s fears about accelerating consolidation of resources echo Jonathan Zittrain's The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, which also made for a memorable filmed talk.
posted by Municipal Hare at 7:54 PM on July 20, 2010


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