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In the MMO genre, this divide is called "themepark vs sandbox". A game like World of Warcraft is a themepark - you're given a lot of direction in terms of where you're supposed to go and what you're supposed to do. EVE Online is a sandbox - you do whatever you want and you get fewer roadsigns that say "go this way" or "beating this means you win".

Current computers are sandboxes - you can do with them whatever you want, run arbitrary code, create your own workflow, and operate without rules. The iPad is a themepark - it has specific programs that do specific things, and then it's got little roped off paths between them. For many users (the proverbial Mom), a well-developed theme park is more attractive, because all they really wanted to do anyhow is ride the roller-coaster or the Ferris wheel. People like the average Hacker News reader (or even the average reddit or digg reader) can't stand the roped off paths, but for Mom, those laid out sidewalks are a relief.




As I read through this (really excellent analysis), it makes me realize, even more, that PGs (and many others) thesis that it isn't so much the _idea_ that matters, but the execution. The concept of a "User friend interface that creates a themepark for the users" didn't occur to Apple first - But, amazingly enough - Microsoft. The idea of turning a computer into a themepark was basically the foundation for Microsoft BOB - From Wikipedia: "The user interface was designed to simplify the navigational experience for novice computer users."

Apple certainly seems to be executing on that vision in a entirely different manner than Microsoft did.


There's no reason why Apple can't sell "sandbox" versions of this kit. The hardware would be 99% the same. The markup and the resulting margins would be very tasty to Apple.

EDIT: They'd still be selling the "Theme Park" version to the other 95% of us.


Costs: developing and supporting a new version of the OS, introducing confusion into their famously stripped-down product lines, complicating the product's reputation as an easy-to-use consumer-oriented device.

Benefits: sales to the tiny minority of people who won't buy an iPad now, but would if they were more 'sandboxy.'

Doesn't sound 'very tasty' to me.


They could just make it easy to hack open, to achieve nearly the same effect without having to support it officially.


Don't they already do this with the iPhone. :-)


Not really. A lot of the hacks that are used to jailbreak the phone are actually security holes. So they can and do get patched, leaving you 'out in the cold.'


With a developer licence you can install software outside the normal "sandbox".


I think the reason is user experience. Future computers will be "theme parks", because non-geeks don't understand the proper limitations of hardware.

For example, 99% of annoyances of computer users is that they install too much software for the resources of the machine they have. Then the computer starts suddenly working slower and slower -- and they don't know why. This happens with Macs and Windows.

In a machine like the iPad Apple can control what software will run and make sure that it is adequate to the resources of the machine. Also, from what I see, they limit the possibility of concurrent running programs to interfere with the user experience.


While I generally agree, I think it's a mistake to blame users for the fact that any PC software they want to even try is given rights to fully hijack their machine and muck things up. (Yes, it's a lesser issue on the Macs, but as you note: it's still an issue)

That was, and is, a serious design failure.


Agreed. The OLPC had a sandboxing feature to prevent this.


Did it use UnionFS?

On a tangent, why aren't more Linux installs (outside of 'live' distros) making use of UnionFS? That makes it easy to 'lock down' the base install because all of the writing goes to a separate partition that could be completely removed to restore the original state. Are their performance issues with UnionFS (performance in a desktop-sense, not in a server-sense)?


I think the reason is user experience. Future computers will be "theme parks", because non-geeks don't understand the proper limitations of hardware.

Yes, but there is no reason why you couldn't sell the unlocked version of the same kit. If a non-geek has a bad experience, then let them downgrade the thing. Heck, a company other than Apple might charge them another fee for that.


This doesn't work. The moment you support an unlocked version, everyone will develop for that version, because it is just easier (like creating crappy software for Windows). Very soon non-geek users will have to use software created for the unlocked version and the same problems will crop up.


What's the point of officially supporting a jailbroken product, given all the new problems it will bring? To me it's like asking Apple to support Hackintoshes.

Apple has been doing this for decades and it's nothing new. If you want freedom and flexibility, you should look elsewhere.


Well, if Apple did it, it wouldn't be "jailbroken," would it? The point would be the same as Apple selling the Aluminum towers. If you want freedom and flexibility coupled with world-class design, then you do buy an Apple -- with top dollar, meaning high margins for them.

Apple's been doing that gig for years.


"Well, if Apple did it, it wouldn't be "jailbroken," would it?"

It's still a jail, and if Apple officially removed it - you can still say 'jailbroken' but that's a minor point.

"If you want freedom and flexibility coupled with world-class design, then you do buy an Apple -- with top dollar, meaning high margins for them."

Not true. I can't officially run OS X on non-official Apple hardware with official Apple suppport. Not to mention if I didn't buy Apple hardware then it would most likely kill their margins ;) iPad will eventually have the same 'freedom' as OS X and iPhone.

What most of us don't see right away is that there are financial costs for supporting freedom and flexibility. These costs are in marketing, support (reliability and usability), and security. Given the right target techie segment, these costs don't matter for freedom. Unfortunately if you're targeting the masses of non-techies, that's a completely different story.

(FYI I am an OS X user)


FYI, I am also an OS X user. (MacBook, iMac, iPhone) The fact that you felt you had to mention this and a few other things make me think you didn't completely comprehend my idea.

It's still a jail, and if Apple officially removed it - you can still say 'jailbroken' but that's a minor point.

I never said about removing the jail. Just building a cozy luxe visitors center just outside the wall.

Not true. I can't officially run OS X on non-official Apple hardware with official Apple suppport.

In my idea, people would be running non-official Apple software without Apple support.

iPad will eventually have the same 'freedom' as OS X and iPhone. Nothing less, and nothing more; and certainly nothing new.

You're dead wrong. If the iPad is to become as pervasive as they would like it to, Apple is going to have to open it up enough so that it can operate as a general purpose computer for the small segment of the populace that wants it.

The key is in the italics. There is no technical reason why Apple can't have their "walled garden" and still let a few people do dangerous things if they want. Will it be what the FSF calls "free?" No way.

Actually, they are already doing some of this. It's called the "iPhone SDK."


"I never said about removing the jail. Just building a cozy luxe visitors center just outside the wall."

It essentially has the same problem as a jailbroken iPad/iPhone/Hackintosh. There are costs with supporting issues that arise from this if it's official.

"In my idea, people would be running non-official Apple software without Apple support."

Well then why complain when in all likelihood a 3rd party will give you what you want for Apple products - ala unsupported jailbreak?

"You're dead wrong. If the iPad is to become as pervasive as they would like it to, Apple is going to have to open it up enough so that it can operate as a general purpose computer for the small segment of the populace that wants it."

Given the history with iPod, iTunes, & iPhone I'm going to disagree. All of them are closed systems with the same critics. Yet all of these products have been wildly successful despite that. I'm not saying that this would work with any company, but it works with Apple; it's the part of their company DNA that has proven time and again to work. As I've said in previous posts, there was a time when Apple was more 'open'; and it was a total failure that almost took down the entire company.

"There is no technical reason why Apple can't have their "walled garden" and still let a few people do dangerous things if they want."

I agree but there are a myriad of other reasons as to why they shouldn't such as extra costs, making their content partners (movies, music, and books) happy (I suspect this is a really big reason), and so on. It's not perfect for everyone; but it's worked for non-techies, Apple stock holders, and Apple's partners.

"Actually, they are already doing some of this. It's called the "iPhone SDK.""

Then why complain? Just pay the $99 and be happy.

I suggest moving on and helping either the Chrome OS or Linux hardware movement if you really want officially blessed freedom. You're not going to get that from a mainstream console maker; we are a niche audience.


Who says it has to be officially supported? Look at the Linksys WRT54GL. It is basically made to be hacked even though it will function correctly without loading a different firmware to it.


They do: it's called the Developer Program.

(Expansion: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1084640)


> Whats truly amazing is that this is always how desktop development has always been done, except on Linux and Mac OS X. Pay your money, get your compiler, write your software, run your software. The Linux and Mac OS X crowd is up in arms because they have had GCC for at least 9 years, and $99 seems like a lot compared to free.

This how it's always been done? Really?

GCC: Initial release May 23, 1987 Commodore64: Release date August 1982


You can spend $99/yearly and become an iPhone developer. Then you can put whatever you want on your iPhone (I assume iPad development will be similar). Ad-hoc distribution allows for like 500 "testers", and you could always just share source files with other developers and recompile them.

EDIT: thanks for the correction on yearly vs. one-time.


Only if the SDK supports it. I can't, for instance, put widgets on the lock screen to see how many unread emails I have. Or have the locked device light up due to an event that my background process detected.


You probably can, if it's just for yourself.

The jailbreaking world has reverse engineered a lot of these internals, like replacing SpringBoard, etc.


" It could be $99/yearly."

It is.


That's what Chrome OS and Android are for; we'll get what we want in a few months or maybe even weeks.

Selling an official hacker version will only serve to confuse the other 95% of customers. (Apple's philosophy of simplicity goes beyond just their UI design.) I don't think this makes a lot of sense either when members of the 5% will eventually jailbreak it anyway.


I'm not positive that the jailbreaks will come as fast as they used to.


>There's no reason why Apple can't sell "sandbox" versions of this kit. The hardware would be 99% the same.

Why would you do that? To compete with every other sandbox vendor that can simply copy all the expensive work that you put into UI and design and sell knock-offs at half the price?

Put yourself in the company's shoes. Your narrow interests are not in theirs.


I suspect what would happen is hardly anyone would buy the theme park. "Less powerful, but easier to use" is a hard sell. Then they wouldn't maintain their reputation for ease of use.


I suspect what would happen is hardly anyone would buy the theme park.

That's why you a) wait until the other environment is well established first and b) charge a $250 markup.

"Less powerful, but easier to use" is a hard sell. But "Does the same stuff, is safer, and $250 cheaper" is an easy one.


I can see that button being part of an iPad Enterprise SDK, but there is no need for a separate hardware offering, it. Is all in the software.


Can you imagine how much bitching the $250 charge would bring?


This urge of control has to do with apple philosophy; I own a macbookpro myself with a wonderful huge buttonless touchpad: if it were for OSX I would even be able to configure middle click with it (which I don't care because I run linux anyway but it says a lot about their point of view IMO).


Are you able to configure the touchpad to support right-clicks under Linux? I'm curious because that's one thing that's been a pain for me when running Linux on an Apple laptops in the past.


yes. one finger tap is single click, two fingers is middle click and three fingers is right click. All via synaptics.


We'll probably see some of the same tech make its way into the macbook/pro lines.


This is a similar path to what has happened with cars. Most people used to know how to maintain their own car. Now you barely have to know how to pop the hood.


Actually, that's pretty much because cars got computers. No one person knows how to completely fix a computer.


That's a good point, but cars are also much more reliable now so you don't have to know how to fix them. The same could be said for operating systems and computers in general.


The point is that you still can pop the hood and make modifications. (Though a lot of manufacturers have tried to prevent some of this with locked-down computers under the hood)




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