And does it matter?
You bet it does. To millions of people out there, Apple products are the height of cool. As Matt points out over at 37Signals’ blog, Apple can change the whole debate by redefining what the words involved mean. Of course they don’t want to take part in an open vs. closed debate. Closed is bad. Apple is not bad. So we can’t have Apple be on the closed side. Let’s see. What would be a better word? Hmm. Hmm. Wait- got it. Integrated. After all, integrated circuits have changed the world. Being integrated means we’re more economical- everything just fitting together perfectly. And often a small form factor! Yes, integrated is definitely the word we want.
And now Android can be… fragmented. Perfect.
The rest of Steve Jobs’ statements proceed to misrepresent what Android developers face and skew the argument in Apple’s favor. He seems to indicate that we as customers should be thankful that Apple’s taking care of all this for us so we don’t have to think about it. Apple’s mantra has shifted from Think Different to Don’t Think About It.
Why Microsoft Loves This
Huh? What does Microsoft have to do with this? In case you didn’t notice or were distracted because you were rolling on the floor laughing, Steve Jobs said (I’m serious):
Google loves to characterize Android as open, and iOS and iPhone as closed. We find this a bit disingenuous and clouding the real difference between our two approaches. The first thing most of us think about when we hear the word open is Windows which is available on a variety of devices.
That’s right- Microsoft is now an example of being open. While the software industry recognizes open as meaning the code is accessible, it’s clear from what follows that Steve means that Windows is on computers everywhere. So I guess Adobe’s Flash is open too. And my Nintendo Wii. Wide open. The real danger here is that if Apple says it enough, when people hear that Linux is open, they’ll think “Oh! Like Windows.” Nothing special. Just something else out there that they don’t need to think about.
Steve Jobs is co-opting the word open and giving it to Microsoft. Then they’re turning around and branding Android as fragmented and calling themselves integrated instead of closed. The fact is that Apple products are the most closed products out there right now. They want you to use computers made by them running operating systems made by them. You want music or movies- great! You can buy them from Apple. Want to play the music on something else? Oh, well why would you want to? This little box you bought from Apple has everything you need. At some point you won’t be allowed to touch it without wearing gloves.