Steve Jobs brought us to a new level of art in technology. He will be missed.
Recently I read that Richard Stallman’s comment about Steve Jobs garnered some harsh reactions. This is not surprising- he is Richard Stallman. But there’s one thing even ardent Apple fans would admit: Apple products work best with other Apple products.
Apple has always made it clear that it is a hardware company and that they make the software that runs on that hardware to create the smoothest user experience possible. And it is smooth. But throw something else in there and it’s not optimal. Interesting example- the Safari browser is available for Windows but in the most recent browser benchmarks, Safari on Windows isn’t even a contender. But on Mac OS X? It rules the roost.
Over time, and as its brand popularity has soared, Apple has tightened the noose a bit. The latest version of the Mac OS X operating system (Lion) can only be purchased in the Mac App Store. This means that if you’re running Leopard you first have to buy Snow Leopard to get the Mac App Store, then upgrade to Lion.
I do not question the brilliance of Steve Jobs at all. But he was the magician of closed systems- he produced things that were insanely great when he controlled the whole package. But he didn’t care about openness or existing in a shared ecosystem (except where he set the rules). I would even predict that on its current trajectory, in 5 years you won’t be able to install non-Mac App Store apps on a Mac desktop or laptop without an Developer License from Apple. (Update: We’re already on the way)
That closed system is great as long as you like it, but once you need or want to include something else in your workflow, or heaven forbid, want to move to a different platform, you’re in for it. It turns out the money you’ve invested over the years on that closed system paid for a wall with you on the inside.
Complaints aside, Steve Jobs was a genius. I will always remember his keynotes and enthusiasm with fondness. But I hope in your genius you’ll embrace open systems.