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.