Strong opinions, weakly held

Apple’s restrictive platform

Here’s Tim Bray (now officially part of the loyal opposition) on the iPhone:

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.

I hate it.

I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient.

I love using the iPhone, but to a growing degree I’m starting to hate the fact that I love using the iPhone.


  1. It seems to me he’s conflating the App Store with the Internet. Apple regulating what shows up in the App Store is one thing (and frankly, I wish they’d be MORE restrictive, at least in terms of quality); Apple trying to censor the Internet (in the form of what’s accessible on Mobile Safari) is another. Flash notwithstanding, not only does Apple not restrict Internet access with Mobile Safari, I’d say they do a better job of making the “true” Internet experience accessible than any other mobile platform.

  2. He does say “mobile Internet” but yeah, I agree there’s some conflation there. I changed to the title of the post to be more accurate, since the complaints are really with Apple’s platform politics rather than any sort of restriction on how you can use the Internet from their devices.

  3. I own a Samsung Moment that’s running Google Android. I think it compares pretty well to the Apple iPhone, and anyone who codes Java can create applications for it. In the long run I expect this openness will cause it to pass the iPhone in usefulness.

  4. I think the iPod and iPad are just fine as platforms with restricted access to apps. They serve a purpose and don’t restrict access to information (at least not yet) available on the internet. It seems like folks are getting all wound up because they fear this the the future of all general purpose computing.

    I’m betting no. Especially since the iPad costs more than some laptops (currently). There’s always going to be a place for general purpose computing (with all its attendant risks and rewards), but there’s a set of people who are willing to opt-out of that for an increase in the security/stability/simplicity of their platform.

    Nobody’s being forced into iPad/iPhone style computing.

    PS: And yeah, it kinda cheeses me off that Bray conflates access to information with access to application freedom. Calling it misleading is charitable.

  5. Snap! I quoted exactly the same section of that post on my own blog! 🙂

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