RantFever 4

I pontificate but not in the pejorative sense of the word.

Archive of Rant Fever 3, 2, 1, & Beta

The iPad, Steve Jobs, and Capitalism

by: Justin Mills | on: 2010-05-22 09:54:34

I recently read an interesting article (here: http://gawker.com/5539717/steve-jobs-offers-world-freedom-from-porn) about a blogger's e-mail exchange with Steve Jobs. Read the article and the e-mails for context and my thoughts are below.


I've never been a fan of Apple products. I own an HP laptop, I built my own desktop that runs Microsoft Windows Vista, my .mp3 player is a Microsoft Zune. My phone is a Blackberry Curve. I purposefully seek out alternatives to Apple because of my concerns with the way Apple handles EULA and licensing and proprietary formats (I want my stuff to be usable with the rest of the world).

I support Open Source projects and programs. I use OpenOffice and am considering switching my aging laptop to Ubuntu.

I have serious concerns about the way Steve Jobs and company handled the Lost iPhone incident and the way they bullied HTC to get back at Google.

That being said, in that exchange of e-mails, Steve Jobs is clearly the winner.

First, the blogger is clearly attacking Jobs quite angrily over what really are technical issues. Jobs and Apple may be wrong in the way they are handling those technical issues. Locking out Flash from the iPad, and only allowing native-developed applications may not be the formula for success that they are looking for, but it IS their decision. It is up to the consumer to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a tightly controlled Apple platform vs. a less controlled Microsoft PC vs. the libertarian environment of Linux PCs. Apple is under no obligation to support open source or Adobe or anything else.

Jobs said it best when he said that Apple was creating a brand experience. Apple has packaged all the wonderful possibilities of the computing world into a slick shiny sterile futuristic room. Buying and owning an Apple is an experience. There is no comparable Dell or HP experience. Microsoft is starting to generate an experience in the form of the Zune, the new Mobile 7 platform, etc, but it's not on the level of Apple. I don't think the Apple experience will ever be for me but I'm okay with Apple creating that experience. That's capitalism. They're offering a good that they think people will want to buy.

Second, if bloggers and internet media follow up on this and continue to criticize Jobs's "freedom from porn" line, that's going to be a battle they lose. I guarantee that Jobs can win over a lot of people with that line. Despite our current pop culture climate of anything goes, I believe that the vast majority of Americans still think porn is morally wrong and harmful and don't want their families exposed to it. If bloggers have legitimate beefs with Apple, they need to avoid the porn issue because I think it is one fight they will lose in the long run.

I gained some respect for Jobs after reading that e-mail exchange. That won't make me run out and buy an iPad, but it's nice to know that Jobs isn't as evil as people like Gizmodo and Gawker are trying to say he is.



Giullieta 2010-05-22 11:56:24

Personally, I heart apple. Coming from a political agnostic, I hope that you can understand why I don't care about all of the crap going on behind the company. So long as nobody is kicking puppies, killing babies or exploiting children in third world countries, I'm happy. Apple products are slick and user friendly. I'm a download and go person, and that's what sets the mac experience apart for me. It's pretty dummy proof. Also, real freedom from viruses, spyware, and malware without a stupid little icon popping up in the corner every two seconds for virus protection software that doesn't even catch everything is a pretty big plus I'd say. And I will never own anything but an iPod. iTunes is the easiest application ever, and everyone I know uses it so I can quickly throw their music on my ipod whenever I want. Anytime I have to use WMP I want to scream. Plus, podcasts rule. And while Zune may play them, you've got to give credit where credit is due. I'm a true mac convert my friend. P.S. I don't really believe that Steve Jobs is actually the one personally answering these emails. I've heard of too many instances of quick answers, or phone calls made on people's behalf once they write directly to Steve Jobs. He's got some pretty awesome representatives I'm sure, but the man would have to be sitting in front of his computer 24/7 to be dealing with all of the mail he gets.

Dubya 2010-05-22 13:53:57

Jobs does answer quite a lot of those e-mails and I don't have any reason to suspect he didn't answer these, but that's beside the main point. I'm actually defending Apple's right to create an experience and sell that to people. I think it's fair to criticize Apple for some things (such as the iPhone case, or whether or not they operate sweat shops in China), but criticizing Apple for not supporting Flash and open source applications is like criticizing Nintendo for not making the Wii compatible with PlayStation 3 games. They have no moral or ethical obligation to allow open source or non native programming on a device that they created in house. My main point is that being morally outraged that Apple is kicking Adobe and open source off of the iPad as some sort of free speech crisis is ludicrous. Not that I expect much from someone who thinks "porn is just fine." Again, Apple has created products that they think will sell and if you don't like those products then don't buy them. If you want open source, then buy a Dell or an HP and run Linux.

el seco 2010-05-23 18:49:44

I couldn't agree with Dubya more, as usual. I think Jobs should be completely free to run his company the way he wants. And if he wants to run it porn-free and DRM-enhanced, than more power to him. I understand that Apple has indeed used sweat shops before in third world countries. Almost any media player can handle podcasts. And their is no "real freedom" from viruses, spyware, and malware on the mac. In fact, Apple's security is a bit of a joke. The "security through obscurity" philosophy that they embrace is ending quickly. So, look forward to more viruses on your macbook, imac, iphone, and ipad in the near future. There are already viruses for them, and more and more will be coming out. Lastly, go Ubuntu!!!

Giullieta 2010-05-24 19:23:53

eh, what do you expect from someone who doesn't read the news. Forgive the ignorance. You'll still have to pry my iPod out of my cold, dead hands.

Green 2010-05-24 23:09:46

I still like Apple products. I have a Macbook and an Ipod. I love them. And I would get an Ipad if I needed it, but I don't. All that aside, it's an interesting argument.