This is about far more than running your own Ruby scripts. It's about the fact that true innovation cannot exist in such an environment. And the problem is, you will not see what you're missing; people won't bother developing new technologies that have no platform they can legally run on.
Would the Web exist if Microsoft had been able to ban Netscape from running on Windows? What new, groundbreaking technologies are we missing out on because it's not worth the time and effort to create something new if the platform vendor can simply forbid you from publishing it?
The App store and the iPhone have fostered a colossal amount of innovation, and made a lot of normal non-techy people very, very happy. And a bunch of techies too.
And in the end I hope it doesn't come down to open source advocates getting their way so they can install vim, but it being about my Mum being able to use it without having to phone me saying that it's all gone wrong again and can I talk through 3 hours of trying to fix the damn thing.
You're confusing correlation with causation. The fact that your Mum has been unable to use devices in the past is not _caused_ by the devices being open platforms. Lots of people can't even operate a dvd player and they are certainly locked down devices. Being easy to operate and being locked down are mutually exclusive.
If events A & B are mutually exclusive, it means that if A happens, then B cannot happen, and vice-versa
Installing vim isn't mutually exclusive from having a usable system.
Hardware is an entirely different beast. Apple brashly requires hardware vendors to engineer their products specifically for the iPhone platform, and you can't work around these limitations in software.
For a glaring example, there's no open Bluetooth stack on iPhone OS. Most probably the underlying implementation is essentially identical to IOBluetooth.framework on Mac OS X, but instead of giving software developers the degree of freedom that's taken for granted on computer platforms, Apple has chosen to restrict iPhone OS to a much more limited API which can only connect to devices that contain an Apple-licensed chip.
Apple doesn't seem to mind suffocating independent hardware innovation in order to extract licensing fees. What a long way they've come from Steve Wozniak's days...
Isn't this part of the reason why people went out and bought the desktop Macs? Because everything 'just works'?
Locked Down Platform seems to me to be completely uncorrelated to Easy To Use.
But, it is not just alarmist. The iphone has catalysed lots of innovation. Great innovation. This will too. It is all sanctioned innovation though. Unsanctioned innovation is important too. As things mature, it will become increasingly important.
If freedom-to-tinker on the iPad is restricted, it makes me worried about freedom of expression.
The iPhone is a good example of how this might play out. It's a locked-down system full of problems for developers, but that doesn't mean innovation in the phone industry stopped.
You had a dead/slow industry, Apple woke it up, and now everyone is moving forward quickly. The customer wins.
Open phone platforms like Android will enjoy growth because of that open platform, even if Apple remains closed.
There's a similar story with the Linksys WRT54G routers. And while you might be able to jailbreak the iPad, it's just a lot less likely that a community will be able to form around 'alternative' usages.
You mean aside from the ones Apple developed? Why is the platform vendor always excluded?