Is Apple Onto Something?
Last week, Apple surged past Google with a market cap of just over $157 billion.
I suppose now is an appropriate time to make a confession: I never liked Apple
For all the fantastic industrial and consumer design, slippery-smooth hardware
and software integration, and tightly evolved product development, Apple to
me has always been a company that just can't quite get it right. And by "right,"
I mean not demand complete control over everything on its platforms.
We got a nice reminder of that habit when it was alleged that the new 2.x firmware
for the Apple iPhone includes a provision to call home and check for unauthorized
applications on the handset. As reported
in Engadget, iPhone hacker Jonathan Zdziarski said the firmware features
a blacklisting system that may be able to remotely disable applications.
Never mind that Apple says the blacklist is to identify apps that should be
denied access to the iPhone's CoreLocation framework, which provides support
for GPS and other geo-located applications. The company's long history of rigidly
controlling its ecosystem has people assuming the worst. And honestly, even
after Apple's statement, it's hard to blame them.
The culture of control is etched into the DNA of Apple executive management.
Consider the fate of Power Computing, a clone-maker that built a humming business
in the mid-1990s selling Mac OS-compatible systems. The company was in the midst
of its best year when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in July 1997. By September,
Apple had bought up key Power Computing assets and shut down the clone business.
Now Apple is making a splash in the arena of mobile application development,
with its AppStore service that gives developers a one-stop shop for making software
available for iPhones. You can read about this in our Aug.
15 cover story by Senior Editor Kathleen Richards. If AppStore can do for
mobile apps what iTunes did for digital music, we'll be looking at a dramatically
changed marketplace in the next few years.
And honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about that. Because as slick and compelling
and inventive as Apple the hardware and software company can be, I worry about
the culture of control in Cupertino.
Do I worry too much? E-mail me at email@example.com.
Posted by Michael Desmond on 08/19/2008 at 1:15 PM