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Daring Fireball: The Kids Are All Right (daringfireball.net)
269 points by kilian on Apr 2, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments



Things have never been better for kids and technology than they are today, and I agree with Gruber that it's a bit myopic to suggest otherwise.

But, it is dangerous to ignore negative events, just because the overall trend has been positive for the past 30 years. Apple has been responsible for a number of very negative events in the past few years. Going back to more closed systems is not a good thing, even if the iPad is awesome and seems like magic and kids love it (and I'm sure they do). The iPad and iPhone are more closed, more hostile to tinkerers, more hostile to adventurous users, than most other similar devices. This is a bad thing. One shouldn't apologize for a company doing bad things, just because things in the industry as a whole are better than they were ten or fifteen or twenty years ago.

Open Source software has made dramatic improvements in the landscape for kids learning technology today. Apple is fighting those improvements, and they should be called out for that bad behavior. Apple is behaving in ways that are bad for developers, and bad for kids who might become hackers. Just because they also happen to build awesome products, and do happen to provide an approved relief valve for their closed ecosystem, doesn't make it OK to be hostile to developers and would-be hackers.


  The iPad and iPhone are more closed,
  more hostile to tinkerers, more hostile
  to adventurous users, than most other
  similar devices. This is a bad thing.
This would be a bad thing if it were true. It is not. Before iPhone I was not even considering coding something for mobile device. When iPhone SDK came out I was not only considering, I did want to do it. Even more so with iPad.

  Open Source software has made dramatic improvements
  in the landscape for kids learning technology today.
  Apple is fighting those improvements, and they should
  be called out for that bad behavior.
What a bullshit. First, Apple adds a lot to open source. Remember, what phone had useable web browser before iPhone? Right… What's the most popular engine for mobile devices? Correct, WebKit. We talk about those web apps for mobile devices today, where they became first available? Where did those nice CSS transforms, transitions and animations first appear? Would you care to go and see who are the editors http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-2d-transforms/, http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-transitions/, http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-animations/ Evil Apple. I guess their work on WebKit, LLVM, Grand Central Dispatch (libdispatch), OpenCL, etc. is somehow "fighting the improvements" made by OSS? Really?

  Apple is behaving in ways that are bad for developers,
  and bad for kids who might become hackers.
Yes. Like including free X-Code with every single copy of OS X. You don't even have to download it: it is there on the DVD. That sure does something horrible for developers and kids who might become hackers.

People, I understand that some of you may not like Apple for one reason or other, but please, stop talking nonsense.


Also, there exists plenty of constructive criticism by people who like Apple just fine, and for one reason or another, still hold an opinion that runs contrary to the company line. Reasonable people can disagree, it's not just a matter of 'talking nonsense'.

FTA (full paragraph for context): "And, App Store aside — which, yes, requires access to a Mac and a $99/year developer account — what about the iPad and iPhone as web clients? There are no limits imposed by Apple on web apps targeting iPhone OS devices. When I learned to program in the 1980s with BASIC, the interface of our programs was monospaced (and on some machines, all-caps) text. Just text. If we had color it was limited to 16 shades."

A lot could be said about Xcode within your core offering, but requiring $100 to submit a program to the 'open' platform. I don't really have an opinion though.

That said, how could anyone claim with a straight face that 'There are no limits imposed by Apple on web apps targeting iPhone OS devices.'? Or even that in 2010, the number of colors a completely different host OS allowed you to use in 1980 could serve as an analogy for technology 30 years into the future?

Very publicly Apple has rejected apps for duplicating 'core functionality'. More privately, they have given application developers runarounds based on fairly specious reasoning and within a poor framework for supporting the little dev shops that are supposedly so empowered by this new platform.

HN contributors have been exposed to and have discussed these issues repeatedly.


> That said, how could anyone claim with a straight face that 'There are no limits imposed by Apple on web apps targeting iPhone OS devices.'

He very clearly says "web apps". iPhone OS fully supports HTML5 web applications that can be installed to SpringBoard (the application launcher) alongside every other app from the App Store. They can run offline, with full HTML5 local database support — they're treated as first-class citizens by the OS.


>> Yes. Like including free X-Code with every single copy of OS X. You don't even have to download it: it is there on the DVD.

Microsoft, since at least Windows XP (and perhaps before, I'm too lazy to look), hasn't shipped a programming language with their operating system. Apple ships what, 6 or 7? Python, Ruby, Perl, C, AppleScript, and probably a few others. Those don't require the $99 developer license at all. Apple is the only hacker-friendly PC and OS manufacturer remaining.


Apple is the only hacker-friendly PC and OS manufacturer remaining.

Every Linux distribution includes dozens of programming languages.


Please note that I said "PC and OS manufacturer". As awesome as I think Linux is, it's not mainstream on the desktop yet. Of all the laptops/desktops that have a likelihood of reaching the kinds of people we're talking about here, Apple is the only one that is hacker friendly.


Windows XP comes with at least VBScript and JScript ready-to-use for scripting.


I'll concede that, but scripting != developing your own application from scratch.


I'll concede that, but scripting != developing your own application from scratch.


Windows ships with the .NET framework which has the C# and VB compilers (and may have others - I'm not sure). This is not counting things like Powershell, Javascript, VBScript (all command line versions).

For developer tools, VS Express has been free for over 5 years.


Windows ships with the .NET framework, but not with SDK (i.e. with runtime only). You have to download SDK separately.


We're not talking about what Apple ships with a desktop Mac. We're talking about what they don't ship with an iPad.


Before iPhone I was not even considering coding something for mobile device. When iPhone SDK came out I was not only considering, I did want to do it. Even more so with iPad.

This tells us that it is a really good platform, and that you enjoy it. It doesn't tell us anything about openness. I agree that iPhone and iPad are awesome devices. Apple makes beautiful computers that mostly work very well. I'm not arguing in any way about the quality, or enjoyability, of Apple products.

At risk of once again distracting from the important point I'm trying to make (which seems to be really easy for folks to do; since nearly every criticism of my comments takes off in a different direction, unrelated to the very real problems with Apples decision to be a gatekeeper for their devices), I will note that developing for iPhone is a little bit old-fashioned. Objective C is a good language for its age, and I happen to like C...but compared to more modern languages (even modern Java found on Android devices), there's a bit more fiddly bits than I like. The end results can be wonderful, but technically, there's some definite trade offs in using a language like Objective C, even with a really well thought out API.

Remember, what phone had useable web browser before iPhone? Right… What's the most popular engine for mobile devices? Correct, WebKit.

Which was an Open Source library that had been in development for years before Apple got involved and forked it and renamed it WebKit. Yes, Apple did wonderful things with WebKit, but you're just parroting the company line if you believe that the ability to make web apps that work on iPhone is the same as an open device.

Like including free X-Code with every single copy of OS X.

Except those copies of OS X that come on the iPhone and iPad.

People, I understand that some of you may not like Apple for one reason or other, but please, stop talking nonsense.

My "one reason or other" is not mysterious. I have not minced words about my problems with Apple. I don't believe you've actually answered the point of my complaints, you've merely parroted the company line. If you agree with Apple, and love their products so much that you're willing to live with those limitations, that's fine.

My only point is that you shouldn't call out a bunch of other stuff Apple does, that may be positive or neutral, as evidence that the closed nature of the iPhone/iPad ecosystem is bad for tinkerers and hackers and kids that might become hackers. And, you really shouldn't make this into a false dichotomy, as Gruber tries to do; you can have an awesome device that is also open. Apple has merely opted not to do so.

The good news is that the latest round of Android devices are as good as the iPhone, and the sales rate of Android phones indicates that iPhone will lose the war in a couple of years, or less, assuming things continue as they have been. It's almost...poetic. I believe openness tends to win, in the end, because its benefits are just too great to ignore. Thus, I'll humbly make a prediction: Apple has shot themselves in the foot, once again, by being a closed platform. If they don't open up, they will gradually lose ground to Android.

Call it nonsense all you want, but I think cultural decisions of important companies can shape the world...and I believe Apple has been making cultural decisions that are a net negative with regard to the iPhone and iPad.


>> This tells us that it is a really good platform, and that you enjoy it. It doesn't tell us anything about openness.

True, but look at the picture of getting people/kids into technology, hacking, programming, a device that inspires them to write apps, and lets them do so, is way better than a device which is super open, but doesn't inspire kids to write code...

>> Except those copies of OS X that come on the iPhone and iPad.

You want to write code and compile it ON the iPad??!? You need a mac to run XCode and your mac will have it for free, and you can download updates for free. Not sure what else you'd want Apple to do.

I don't agree with the bulk of your post, but totally respect your differing opinion. I guess only time will tell what the Apple/Andriod/?? future looks like. In the mean time I'm happy with my technology choices, and hopefully you are too.


You want to write code and compile it ON the iPad?

Why not? I just visited with an old friend of mine from high school, and the only computer her 7 year old son has access to is her iPhone, and I'm absolutely certain that there will be hundreds of thousands of kids who only have access to an iPad; it's just that kind of device. The iPhone, let alone the iPad, are dramatically more powerful than the Commodore 64 I learned to program on.

Assuming that a kid is like you or me, and will just pony up the thousand bucks for a development machine in order to get to the SDK, and the 99 bucks to participate in the app store, is wishful thinking.

If Apple allowed scripting engines to run on the iPhone and iPad I wouldn't be quite so intense on this...but they don't, so a kid with an iPhone or iPad also can't get access to a BASIC-equivalent, like I had to tinker with. All he gets is whatever games and toys Apple decides he can have. This is a chilling thought, to me, and I'm depressed that many hackers don't feel the same way.

You need a mac to run XCode and your mac will have it for free, and you can download updates for free. Not sure what else you'd want Apple to do.

I expect them to let people tinker and learn and explore, rather than merely consume! Exactly what I've been saying all along. I'm not being secretive about what I'm talking about here. I want Apple to let kids have an environment where they can learn technology, if they want to, even if they don't have wealthy parents who can afford to buy them a Macintosh. Most of these kids parents will never buy a Macintosh, even if they buy an iPhone or an iPad. They can't or won't afford one. If they have a computer at all, it's a super cheapo box from Walmart or something, that was on sale because it was the previous model or similar.

That's the thing about the iPhone and iPad: It reaches people who don't use computers. That's a great thing. The digital divide is already pretty deep and wide, we don't need it getting deeper by cutting everyone off from the Internet. But their kids have the opportunity to cross that divide completely...and Apple doesn't want them to.

I guess only time will tell what the Apple/Andriod/?? future looks like.

It doesn't really matter to the point of my argument, in this particular string of angry rants. I don't think that just because an open option does exist, Apple should get off the hook for the harm they're doing. But, I did want to mention that there is light on the horizon, and I think the good guys will win this round, which is refreshing, after so long under another oppressive regime (though not as problematic as Apple's iPhone/iPad bright and shiny and clean world).


Sorry, but how do you qualify negative events?

First, let's take a look at what I suspect you think are negative events:

1) iTunes Music Store has DRM encumbered music

2) iTunes Video Store has DRM encumbered video

3) iPhone App Store has closed ecosystem with infuriating approval process

Now, let's peel back the bullshit and look at the reality of the situations:

1) Before the iTunes music store, the only way you could get music legally on the internet was a $10 a month subscription to the Real Player music store. You did not own your music and you could only play it on a number of devices. Concurrently, many music publishers were trying to develop technological means to prevent users from taking music from CDs they had purchased and ripping them to MP3's.

Overall, I rate that as a win for consumers. A double win considering the later removal of DRM from iTunes music.

2) Before the iTunes video store, you could buy a few DRM encumbered videos from Amazon (pretty sure they were the only game in town at that time). Some of the current stores for digital video don't even allow you to view video on a device different from the one you purchased it on. There is still not a really great source of High Def video.

Overall, I rate that as a neutral to slight win for consumers.

3) Before the iPhone App store, the only way you could get an application was through a carrier approved store. The apps themselves were 99% garbage and if you changed phones, good luck transferring them. With the iPhone App store, there has been a cambrian explosion of mobile software. Despite the denial of apps in several specific categories and contentious policies regarding duplication of built in software, for the most part there is an app for that. The best part though is that applications do not depend on carrier approval for the most part and handsets are free to transfer across networks provided they are hardware compatible. I would like to remind you again that before June 2007, this shit was fantasy.

Overall, I rate that as a win for consumers.


1) Before the iTunes music store, the only way you could get music legally on the internet was a $10 a month subscription to the Real Player music store. You did not own your music and you could only play it on a number of devices. Concurrently, many music publishers were trying to develop technological means to prevent users from taking music from CDs they had purchased and ripping them to MP3's.

This is simply, and provably, untrue. I had an eMusic account several years before iTunes existed. It has always distributed DRM-free MP3s.

2) Before the iTunes video store, you could buy a few DRM encumbered videos from Amazon (pretty sure they were the only game in town at that time).

I don't know about this, as I'm not a big movie/TV watcher. I'll leave it for someone else to debunk.

3) Before the iPhone App store, the only way you could get an application was through a carrier approved store.

Demonstrably untrue. There was a thriving and open application market for Palm devices, Windows mobile devices, and others, long before the App Store. The Sidekick had a similar marketplace model to the App Store and a similar approval process, and it was in place for many years before the iPhone. Pretty much all smart phones allowed installation of applications from third parties before the iPhone and App Store. The success of the App Store, for Apple's bottom line, was the primary motivation for several other vendors introducing similar markets.

But, I wasn't talking about iTunes (though there are probably things to say about iTunes, I don't really know enough about it; as I mentioned, I've been an eMusic user for many years, and have never wanted anything iTunes had to offer; besides that iTunes doesn't run under Linux, so I can't use it). I'm talking about specific negative things Apple has done for openness and creativity in the technology world with the iPhone and the iPad, which is the subject of all of these rants.

The iPhone and iPad are the most tightly controlled ecosystems in their respective niches (if we count netbooks and other tablets as in the iPad niche, which I kinda think we have to, for now). This is a bad thing.

And, I was saying that the kind of apologia you're using is enabling Apple to do these bad things. One shouldn't apologize for bad things Apple has done by presenting the good or neutral things Apple has done. We know that the closed nature of the iPhone/iPad and the App Store ecosystem is bad for developers and bad for tinkerers and would-be hackers. We should call them on that bad behavior.

Praise them all you want for other behaviors, but don't use it as an excuse for the bad things they do.


eMusic distributed DRM-free MP3s for artists that most people didn't care about.


And the eMusic catalog has expanded through the years to encompass most of the artists that matter. By the time iTunes came along, eMusic had a pretty good catalog...by the time iTunes started offering DRM-free music, the eMusic catalog included a huge array of major label acts.

But, I'm not really talking about iTunes. I'm talking about the hacker culture and the chilling effects of the closed iPad/iPhone ecosystem. I just couldn't let an utterly untrue statement go uncorrected. But it's not really the point of my rant.


Seriously, I mostly listen to independent music, and I don't steal music, and I haven't bought a physical CD in something like 5 years so I'm pretty sold on downloading, and when the iTMS launched eMusic was absolutely not a draw for me. I think it's a little disingenuous to suggest that eMusic solved the same problem Apple did.

The original statement simply wasn't "utterly untrue". Sorry. I hear where you're coming from.


> 3) Before the iPhone App store, the only way you could get an application was through a carrier approved store.

Actually, this isn't true. While it's now much easier for consumers to install software and for developers to get paid from software, the actual process of getting an application on a phone is much harder.

I wrote little cardcounters for poker in highschool to run on my WinMo 5 phone. Compile it with the C# compiler for ARM, and e-mail a little exe to my phone and run it. No fees, license agreements, provisioning profiles, etc. involved.


There are step-by-step instructions -- it's easy. The only real impediment is $99. Getting an app on the iphone is several orders of magnitude easier than writing an app. Being able to run emailed .exe's is precisely the kind of stuff that is killing the PC for most people.


I think the whole point is that while the average Joe shouldn't run .exe's from e-mail, the fact that you can't ruins this easy way to load your own app on your own machine because Apple is assuming everyone that uses their device is an idiot. Would it really be that hard to allow for a .exe blocking feature that can be disabled?

I think the whole point is that the $99 and having to use Apple's development package and going through Apple's approval process is an impediment to development. You can't write an app for whatever you want (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/19/banned-iphone-apps-...) because Apple censors App development. True open source should be open. Iphone and Ipad are not truly open.


You're not answering the question : where is the win for the tinkerers ?


I am a tinkerer, I have had many cell phones, and the iPhone is the first I made an app for. I specifically always bought phones with some kind of cable to a PC, but in reality I never did it. The secret sauce for me was

1. Great docs on the API including tons of 3rd party sites and books 2. A straight-forward way of getting the app to a store 3. Integrated payment 4. A market

With my other phones, I guess I could have created the app, and used it myself, but the extra incentive of making a few bucks (and that's all I made) was enough to get me to actually do it. I have lots of things I like to tinker on, so it's about prioritizing.

Also, I don't understand what the issue is -- if you want to put an app on your own iPad/iPhone, you can -- just get a developer cert and have at it. You don't need appstore approval. You are in a sandbox, but it's a lot more permissive than a web app is to the browser on your PC, and no one's claiming that that is an impediment to tinkering.


How old are you?

When I learned to program, it was at night after my parents went to bed and using qbasic (I'm young); they wanted me to pursue more noble endeavors like athletics.

If I had tried to explain to them that I needed to pay $99 in order to learn something that they didn't want me to learn to begin with, how do you suppose they would have reacted? Yes, there is an emulator that you can run apps on, but where is the wonderment in that?

I remember how excited I was when I figured out how to make my qbasic programs dial a phone number using the computer's modem...that was AWESOME! This sort of thing won't happen on the iPad. Yes, there are people (people who are already developers) who get excited about it, but to a kid, it is a black box.

It's not that people are upset about the iPad specifically, it's that they're upset about the direction that it is nudging computers.


You're being, probably not deliberately, a bit disingenuous here. If this was any time after the 80s, the BASIC that the machine came with was /not/ the same thnig that was used to make professional programs. A C compiler or assembler would cost you more than $99 in today's money.

On the iPhone (or iPad), you can run web apps you write with no restriction - and today's Javascript is hardly less powerful in comparison to the machine than yesterday's BASIC.

You can download and use, if you have Mac, Xcode for free, only having to pay the $99 if you want to load your app onto the device. I'd say this compares pretty favorably to the dev tool pricing of old.

About the only /practical/ argument I see here is that you can't program an iPhone or iPad using the device itsself, but that's not even entirely true - there are web sites out there that let you code in web technologies from a browser (hrm, maybe that's a business idea - code iPad web apps from the iPad Safari...).


you say

"If this was any time after the 80s, the BASIC that the machine came with was /not/ the same thnig that was used to make professional programs. A C compiler or assembler would cost you more than $99 in today's money."

and

"only having to pay the $99 if you want to load your app onto the device. I'd say this compares pretty favorably to the dev tool pricing of old."

You have to pay 99$ per year. What dev tool pricing "of old" had an annual license fee of 20% of the device cost to load your program onto your device?


You're correct - none. I could make the argument that many people would pay for the new upgrades to their compiler, text editor, etc at least yearly, but you're right that they didn't have to to continue using them. I'm not sure that matters though - even as a yearly fee, $99 just isn't that expensive compared to how thing were in this supposed Golden Age, even compared to the old one-off costs - especially inflation-adjusted.

To be clear, I'm not saying things wouldn't be better if this was all free of charge, or that Apple's tight grip on the platform is great for society (I think that's a different argument entirely). I'm just saying that the argument that everything was better and more accesible to new users in the old days is a bit of a 'rose tinted spectacles' one.


I am a tinkerer. I want to jailbreak the thing. Make an app that track my bubblegums and is useful for me alone. I want to change the darn springboard icons and have my girlfriend's photo as the wallpaper. I want to install an utility that allows me to have tweetdeck running in the background. I want to install firefox. And Android. I want to crash and brick the stupid thing and then find a way to restore it to life. I won't care about the guarantee, because I'm a tinkerer and I want to OWN the f'ing machine that I purchased with my hard earned dollars and I don't want any one -- not even a skinny bald guy at cupertino who distorts reality -- to tell me what I can't do.

But they do. They tell me what I can not do and they will use every resource at their disposal to make sure that I don't.

I'm a helpless tinkerer.


1) Before iTunes you could buy DRM free music from emusic

3) Before the iPhone App store, you could get applications freely without any problem on the Treo or even on windows mobile...


1) Now you can buy DRM free music from hundreds of websites online. 3) You can still buy applications freely for any of these mobile platforms. (Jailbreak, etc...)

Good lord, ya' crybabies, just vote with your dollars. Apple is not beholden to us in any way and nor are we to them.


So you think it's ok that the progression "really sucks" to "sucks" is something to praise Apple for? I have higher standards.


Arguing as a sometimes-utilitarian: people love their iPhones, and their creation has actually brought happiness into people's lives. In all this doom-and-gloom talk about how the iPad will destroy computing as we know it and Apple is the new evil empire, etc. etc., hardly anyone ever seems to weigh the happiness brought to consumers by their devices.

So let's not just focus on the theoretical-hacker-kid-who-will-now-never-learn-to-program, because they're not the only type of person affected by these devices. Are many people's days just a tiny bit happier because they have their iPhone? Yes. (And many people's days are happier because they have a phone that is much better than it would have been had the iPhone never happened). And that should matter too.


The problem is that Gruber is presenting a false dichotomy.

> Something important and valuable is indeed being lost as Apple shifts to this model of computing. But it’s a trade-off, because something new that is important and valuable has been gained.

The trade-off here isn't a "you can't have it both ways" type of decision. It's a business decision by Apple to only allow apps through the AppStore. The iPhone and iPad could be just as user-friendly of devices while remaining open.

[ As a side note: Comparing the 'openness' of the web app angle for the iPad/iPhoneOS is a bit disingenuous, because you need to have hosting ('in the cloud' or not) to deliver such an app. You didn't need to have that 'back in the day' when you were creating BASIC apps on an Apple II. A better solution to 'openness' would be to just charge the $99 for the devkit and allow apps to be installed outside of the AppStore. ]


  Comparing the 'openness' of the web app angle for the
  iPad/iPhoneOS is a bit disingenuous, because you need
  to have hosting ('in the cloud' or not) to deliver
  such an app.
In this case "closed" App Store gives you even more: you don't have to think about hosting at all. Nor about CC processing, making it easy to find your app using search for all the users, etc.

I'd argue that the very "closeness" of App Store is the reason there are about ~150 000 apps available. We see many crying how closed Apple is, but how many of those whiners would actually go through the process of getting the infrastructure in place? App store takes away the boring part and lets you concentrate on your app. And let's not forget all the free apps hosted there. How much would it cost to self-host a popular free app? Less than $99 a year? Including your time spent managing the infrastructure?

"closed Apple" is just another rubberstamp along "overpriced Macs" which means very little. It's just a different model and it does not make it worse, even some don't like it. There are other platforms to choose, go ahead and tinker. But whining is easier, I suppose.


The openness issue is that Apple does not allow installs of apps outside of the app store, period. (yes, I know about ad-hoc distribution, and the enterprise program, those are very limited and still tightly controlled by Apple).

Contrast with Android, which has a market with the same advantages you list (infrastructure, payment processing, search for apps, etc.), but also allows users to install apps from other sources if they so choose, at their own risk.

Note that I'm comparing the two models, not the execution - I think Apple still has superior execution, even if I don't like the model they chose.


I think that point of the 'whining' is less "where and how do I get my apps onto my phone" and more along the lines of "why does Apple get to choose what I'm 'allowed' to install on my phone?" Arguing that people that hate the AppStore are 'whiners' because the AppStore eliminates distribution headaches for developers is sort of missing the point.


why does Apple get to choose what I'm 'allowed' to install on my phone?

They don't. Unless you buy an Apple phone. So if that's a problem for you, don't buy an Apple phone.


We won't, but this is a discussion regarding Apple and their policies regarding the Iphone/Ipad and not whether or not we should buy an Iphone/Ipad tomorrow. You are making the "if you don't like America, you can just get out" argument where you discourage discussion of criticism by reminding everyone that if they are going to criticize, then they should shut-up and not participate in the discussion.


Replying to your aside: With HTML5's offline capabilities you don't really need hosting (for many kinds of apps). I need to run a server on my laptop only once so I can download little programs I write to my iPod.

With this method I don't need to pay Apple $99 or write Objective C. (OTOH I did need to learn JavaScript, but it turns out it's nowhere near as ugly as I for some reason thought it was.)

By the way, as a handy tinkerer friendly tip, the first thing I put on my iPod this way is a very simple form with a text entry for JavaScript code that gets eval()-Ed and printed. Now I can code simple things right on my iPod.


God, how can people tolerate the fact that they can't adjust the throttle response map in their VW! How are they going to get optimal fuel economy if they can't change the wheel camber either?! I admit that I forgot to seasonally adjust my camber to keep proper traction in changing weather, but by golly I couldn't live with myself if all I was supposed to do was sit in the damn thing and turn the wheel. Kids these days don't even know how to drive a manual transmission! What I miss are the days of metal wagon wheels - those things lasted forever.


You can buy a new car, drive it for years, and never once open the hood yourself. That’s the iPad.

If the iPad were a car, it would be illegal to open the hood.

Yes, there's some 13 year old kids writing iPhone apps. There are even more 13 year old kids writing PC and Mac apps, so I'm not sure what that proves. What there won't be by design in the iPad world is disruptive innovators like Linus Torvalds. As I've said before, that's good for Apple and bad for everyone else.


More accurately, if the iPad were a car, you'd only be able to listen to Apple-approved radio stations.


If we must trot out the old car analogy trope, let's at least be realistic.

If the iPad were a car, you'd only be able to install car radios approved by Apple, of which there would be forty or so wildly different options, some of which generally sucked, some of which were meticulously built around a particular set of stations, and some of which you could tune to anything from low-frequency maritime navigation channels to shortwave.

Or you could just take out the radio and install a talking river trout in its place, so long as it was available in the aftermarket catalog.

And there'd be a sea bass version as well.


Yes, except you wouldn't be able to play your favorite Indy radio because Jobs is just not into Indy. And no amount of complaining will ever get you that radio.

It surprises me how quickly people forget that there's no Opera Mini, no multitasking, no Google Voice, or a myriad other applications that are arguably far, far more innovative than anything that's in the App Store yet you can't access them because The Man told you so. Especially since those are some of the things that make a smartphone so useful.


But Apple would never let me install a radio that would tune into adult shows like Howard Stern. And they'd block all Sirius XM radios because of this possibility.

And if someone created a radio that used too much battery life, I wouldn't be able to install it either.

I can go on if you'd like, but you get the point.


You cant listen to your radio while using your GPS though, that is not allowed.


You can as long as you use the factory fitted radio.


  If the iPad were a car, it would be illegal to open the hood.
That's incorrect, if the iPad were a car opening the hood would void the warranty.


No, that would be reasonable. Apple has specifically stated in filings to the Copyright Office that jailbreaking is and should be a criminal act: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/02/apple-says-jailbreaking...


I guess it depends on what we mean by 'opening up the hood.' Sticking to the analogy I would take that to mean cracking open the physical case. Most of the 'black boxes' in a cars engine are also protected with various DRM methods to make it illegal for others to reverse-engineer them (therefore making it so that mechanics have to pay the manufacturer for access to the devices). I would associate those with the actual chips inside of the iPad/iPhone as well as the OS.


"make it illegal" in the USA. Reverse engineering is not (yet) illegal in other (most?) countries.


It is illegal because it involves violating Apple's copyright on their firmware. The legal status was established long before there even was an iPhone to jailbreak.

That filing was provoked by the EFF's attempt to get it made specifically exempt from copyright protection, but their arguments didn't actually meet any of the established criteria for creating exemptions. Apple's filing, in context, was an objection to the EFF's claims mostly spent pointing this out. The EFF tries to characterize it as Apple trying to get jailbreaking made illegal, but that's not the case. If it weren't already a copyright infringement there would have been no point for the EFF to make their filing in the first place. The whole thing is a bizarre kind of legal trolling, and cringe whenever anybody mentions it because it so severely tarnished my image of the EFF.


Actually, it kindof tarnishes my image of Apple.


Correct and if you start screwing around with your engine... it voids the warranty.


I imagine that if I crack open my laptop and start desoldering components from the motherboard, that will void the warranty as well.

Guys, come on here. It's not like apple is against jailbreaking or open development because it's going to destroy the product and they don't want to warranty it (like desoldering components are ripping apart your engine block would), it's that it will disrupt their business model. Why can't I get a grooveshark app without jailbreaking? Is that going to physically break my iPhone? No, it's going to let grooveshark encroach on apple's bottom line.


> If the iPad were a car, it would be illegal to open the hood.

It is legal to open the hood, just not to tinker with a limited set of the contents. It's the same in cars nowadays, as I understand it. There are plenty of boxes in cars that are protected by DRM of sorts so that you can't reverse-engineer them. (Well, mostly so that it's illegal for you to reverse-engineer it, not that they have to be very secure from being broken)


More accurately, if the iPad were a car, doing the repair work yourself, as an unlicensed mechanic, would void your warranty. Thus the analogy still holds. If I try to change my power steering fluid and end up completely killing the pump, the warranty is certainly not gonna cover it. And I might be a little upset, but I'll understand. They aren't encouraging tinkering, but neither does Volvo. And I've seen some tricked out Volvos.


Gruber's argument isn't an argument. He acknowledges that Doctorow, Pilgrim, and Payne have a point and then fails to address the real issue: Apple's veto power over apps on its devices.

His answer: Be happy you can write Web apps.

That's like saying freedom isn't an issue in China because Hong Kong has freedom.

There's simply no rationale for Apple to reject apps based on content that's not illegal, like political speech.

The car analogy fails because cars are not useful for content creation, the way computers are.

Gruber suggests its a trade-off, in which something is lost and something is gained. But that which is gained -- an effective online market for apps through iTunes -- isn't necessarily linked to what is lost -- Apple's dictatorial control over its hardware and third-party apps.

There's no reason it can't just be something gained and nothing lost, at least with regard to content approval.

Access to hardware is a related issue and there Apple could afford to be open too.


He acknowledges that Doctorow, Pilgrim, and Payne have a point and then fails to address the real issue

Except the "real issue" isn't actually an argument either. There is a tradeoff happening here: for the average non-programmer, devices which have at least a certain level of "no user-serviceable parts inside" can be made to be much simpler, much easier to use and at least slightly more secure (in that attacks which depend on duping a user into installing/executing malware will fail) then devices which are completely "tinkerable".

The problem lies in failing to acknowledge that this tradeoff exists or that it should be considered on its merits rather than ideologically rejected out of hand; this takes it from the level of rational argument down to the level of blindly applying dogma.

Most of the rest of the "argument" is merely a classic slippery slope (allowing just a few devices to have just a little bit of control built in is assumed to lead automatically to all devices having total control built in), and as such doesn't really stand up on its own.


"Such is the march of progress. 40 years ago you could open the hood of your car and see and touch just about every component in there. And you had to, because many of those components required frequent maintenance. To properly own a car required, to some degree, that you understood how a car worked. Today, you open the hood of your car and you see a big sealed block and a basin for the windshield washer fluid. You can buy a new car, drive it for years, and never once open the hood yourself."

(Warning, car guy!) First, I don't think this is a bad thing. The average person doesn't want to perform any maintenance anyways. Heck, oil changes. They're still just as easy to perform. You're not even saving any time by going to the dealership and back, plus waiting around. You're certainly not saving any money (I can save $45 changing my oil myself). People just don't want to expend the effort.

In the case of cars, at least in the US, they went from an object to pride to... a nuisance for most motorists. They want to be comforted, coddled, and have as much as possible done for them so they can chat with friends, sip their coffee, or have a conversation via text message.

That applies to many things. I know plenty of folks who spend $10-12 a day on lunch. $10-12 of ingredients gets me a far better lunch for the entire week. Even saves me time, because I don't have to wait in a line every day.

It's not cheaper. It's not even less time. It's the time spent is "lower impact" I guess. That's what's paid for. Consumers are given a choice, and many choose the path of overall least resistance. I'm sure there's plenty of other psychological factors at play (i.e., "Well I have the money to not need to cook for myself all the time!", advertising making things seem more appealing), but the reality is when presented with all the options, folks just want to do the least work possible.

Give people more iPads. At least in the current consumer culture, it's exactly what people want. They don't want to explore or program. It's the path of computing least resistance. Enthusiasts and people who have a serious need for one will still buy computers.


> You're not even saving any time by going to the dealership and back, plus waiting around. You're certainly not saving any money (I can save $45 changing my oil myself).

Actually, even this has gotten a bit debatable. My dealership has wifi available, so I can take my car in for an oil change and I don't have to take any time off work to do it.


I'll concede that... to a limited extent. Not every job makes that possible. Even the ones that have the possibility, the number of employers that would allow that is also limited.

VPN access, in my experience, is in the hope that people will do MORE work when they normally aren't expected of it. As opposed to having a more flexible work environment.


Consumers are given a choice, and many choose the path of overall least resistance.

This is a good point, but when you buy an iPad you are giving up that choice, and you might not know it.

When I buy a car, at least I know I can change the oil myself should I choose to. I can also install a new battery, or listen to any radio station I want.

I don't mind Apple selling a locked-down device, as long as people are aware that's what they're getting. How many people do you think would buy a car whose manufacturer dictated what stations were allowed to play on the radio, and closed off the oil tank with a proprietary cap so that you had to take it to the manufacturer to have the oil changed? Probably not very many.

So the danger here is that manufacturers take advantage of the mass-market's lack of understanding and preys on their desires for a very powerful computing system that just works, pushing more and more investment towards more closed devices at the detriment of more open devices without most people even realizing how it's harming them.


>This is a good point, but when you buy an iPad you are giving up that choice, and you might not know it.

So?

When I was growing up, I played games. I thought they were neat. I wanted to make my own. I didn't have the tools to do it. I couldn't even easily acquire them -- mom, dad and my sister weren't going to allow the youngest family member to install Linux on the family computer, and we certainly didn't have the money to buy development tools. It doesn't matter if I could install a boot loader to dual boot -- I wasn't allowed to mess with it unless I wanted to be grounded for months.

I was allowed to dumpster dive for 386s though. And I was allowed to do whatever I wished to those computers.

As long as people are curious enough, there are no barriers. Hell, there are still cars designed in sheds (and sold to the public).


I think it's a case of picking your battles most of the time. I certainly don't care to change my own oil, but I'll gladly spend a half-hour on my weekend tuning and oiling my bike, which I use for commuting.

I also can't tell you how much time I've spent configuring my desktops which all run Linux. Sometimes the sound doesn't work, sometimes I'm hacking Wine to get a game to run, but there's always the lower-resistance path of just installing windows or going with a Mac.

I choose the battles where I enjoy the tinkering. I don't care if my car has a sealed hood or not since I don't care to tinker with it.

Some people might not want to tinker with their computer and would rather just tinker with their RSS feeds or HTML.


"Something important and valuable is indeed being lost as Apple shifts to this model of computing. But it’s a trade-off, because something new that is important and valuable has been gained."

This is true, but for people like me, beside the point. A car is either open or closed, to the extent the terms mean anything. A computer doesn't have to choose! It can be closed, until you press the "Yes I Want To Possibly Break My Box" button and all it has to do is stop checking executable signatures and let things that aren't from the official source run. (Isn't this how Android works? I don't have one.)

This is not a fundamental tradeoff that Apple with some regret has been forced to make to make their product easy to use. Gruber is hiding his arguments behind a technical tradeoff that is entirely manufactured by Apple in the first place.

A few weeks ago I bought my wife an HP Mini running Windows 7. She will never crack the hood. It is an easy to use machine, browser here, open office there (which, by the way, I was allowed to install), IE locked away behind this icon over there to access her ActiveX-based time-and-attendance system. It is one application install away from having an "app store"; for instance, Steam could probably be installed in about five minutes.

And I could turn it into a Linux machine in about half-an-hour. Because none of that ease-of-use actually requires the machine to be tinkerproof.


This is exactly my complaint. I think everything about the iPad and App Store is brilliant and the closed defaults make sense. But preventing everybody from opening the device because most people shouldn't/won't is the problem. This is not a necessary trade off. If I want to run my own code on my own device, make me jump through a hoop (so I know what I'm getting into) but don't stop me from shooting myself in the foot (and don't make me pay you a $99/year subscription).


I'm starting to become a defeatist on open platforms. I'd love to see them succeed but it just doesn't seem like the quality and usability is there. If it annoys me it must drive the average person totally insane. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go back to trying to figure out why Dolphin on my Android phone crashes on startup and how to restore the original built-in browser which I must have deleted.


I couldn't agree more.

I would LOVE to use something that's open vs something that's closed. Ubuntu instead of Leopard. Android instead of iPhone. OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office. Gimp instead of Photoshop.

Problem is, all those things are inferior compared to their closed-source counterparts (my opinion only), and don't let me do the job I need them for nearly as well, or in as much comfort.

I am a "tinkerer", programmer, tech geek, etc. Am I going to sacrifice my iPhone just because it's closed-source, and start using something else? Never in a million years. I have enough things to tinker with in my life.

Some people may disagree, and that's fine, but for me and majority of others it's just not such a big deal if the damned thing works as it's supposed to and I'm happy with it.


This seems to be a fundamental problem of open source: people contribute because it is fun. However, the stuff that brings value to your average user, i.e. nice UI and good documentation, is boring.

So, OS is great for hackers, some of the best technologies are open source. But, it tends to suck for the end user.


I have to agree with you on quality/usability. I ended up going back to the iPhone after 2 weeks with the Droid -- mostly because our Exchange server just didn't want to play nice.

My big take away after two weeks, though? Android Market apps have a long way to go to catch up to iPhone apps in terms of polish. Even some of the stuff Google supplies just isn't as nice to use. That makes me sad, since I'd like to see a little more competition.


XScope is a lesser known alternative Android browser that has a lot of potential. I particularly like its "pin zoom" gesture.


While I agree that being able to sell apps on the iTunes Store is a good thing, and worth $99, I don't think that Apple should limit owners of their iP* devices from creating and installing unapproved applications. Why should I have to pay $99 just to sign my own apps for personal use? You don't pay the car manufacturer for a license to modify your car. This is the only problem I have with these devices.

In my opinion, Apple should just do what Windows does with downloads, and warn users when installing unsigned apps. This provides the best of both worlds. Keep charging for the privilege to sell on the App Store, but please, just let me use my device how I want to.


A possible solution:

* Apple still charges $99 for a developer license/kit

* Apple still runs their AppStore

* Apple releases specs/API for creating your own AppStore

* People create competing AppStore implementations

* By default, Apple's AppStore is the only one configured

* The interface for adding extra AppStores is a bit hidden and rough around the edges, so that people have to be motivated to actually do it. (i.e. raise the bar a bit, so that the people that do it know what they are doing)

The majority of people would still just use Apple's AppStore, but this would allow Apple to side-step the "We can't approve that because it would be bad for our company image to have it in our AppStore" type of issues. Apple could even void the warranty for people that use competing AppStores as a way to raise the barrier, but at least it would still be there for the people that wanted to use it.


If the majority of iPhone users are satisfied with the current arrangement, what would be the incentive for Apple to open up the venue for other App Stores? I can't see benefit to Apple from doing so, aside from a theoretical, "more geeks will like us because they can have more control over the distribution of their software."

Would I like to be able to use more crazy, non-standard , non-Apple-approved software on my iPhone? Hell yes! If I were Apple, would I allow others to distribute software for my device? Hell no!

If I had created both the device(s) and application market, I certainly wouldn't let other people compete with me in my own business -- that's just foolish, especially since the current business model works, and works well. Appeasing a minority of highly technical users doesn't make sense in this market.

Besides, how is Apple's model different from what set-top console makers (Nintendo, Sony, Sega, ...) have done for years? $99 is cheap for a console development kit; since you must have Mac to run it, it'd be about $700 total for a development kit + Mac Mini -- and that's still inexpensive in the console devkit market. It's a unique niche, and I'm more than happy to pay to play in it.


Most people have been well seasoned just to click through any warnings.

I think the solution is just to allow anyone to install an alternative "unlocked" OS on the device. You'd have to jump through some hoops to do it, but once you did you could do as you pleased (and give up your right to any support from apple). Basically allow jail breaking w/o the need to find an exploit to do it.


This would work as long as you can get support if you reflash the "locked" firmware before calling.


The point that's worth mentioning is that, in the olden days, families had just one computer, they cost a small fortune. That isn't the case anymore. In my family of 5, there are currently 10 computers of various sizes in use. This is mostly my fault since I own 5.

An iPad can be used for viewing the photos that someone just edited in photoshop on their 'regular' pc. They're complimental.


I did read this post, but as a warning to others, it says nothing that you didn't already know Gruber would say about the iPad.

(Sacrificing karma to illustrate double standard.)

EDIT Clarification: double standard remark is wrt my guess on how comment voting would turn out.


What you said is correct. There isn’t much new stuff to be found in either Gruber’s or Cory Doctorow’s writing about the iPad. You can safely and happily ignore both of them, just what the other comment you are referring to pointed out. Doesn’t mean the whole thing is completely uninteresting. I don’t see the double standard.


What double standard? I agree with you. This isn't news.


Last two paragraphs:

If you could go back and show my 10-year-old self an iPad — millions of colors, video, photographs, gorgeous typography, a touchscreen interface, networking (wirelessly!) — and offered to let me write web apps for it in exchange for my agreeing never to touch an Apple II again, I’m pretty sure I know what the answer would be.

Something important and valuable is indeed being lost as Apple shifts to this model of computing. But it’s a trade-off, because something new that is important and valuable has been gained.

I'm sure a lot of early audiophile tinkerers would be gobsmacked if someone shoved a Bose system at them through a time portal.

Perhaps our fears of the death of tinkering are like laments about the death of penmanship. Maybe what's essential survives in a different form?


The iPad is more open than a game console and less open than a personal computer and you can't use either comparison alone to predict the future. The point of being in a new category is that it won't replace existing products, though it will change the way we use them.

I sincerely doubt that the children of tomorrow will grow up without personal computers just because the iPad is around. Computers are dirt cheap, can do way more stuff, and kids aren't afraid of them like "mom" is.

It's difficult to say whether the iPad will be a net win or loss for software freedom, in the long run. Never have so many developers been so tightly controlled by a single vendor. However, the iPhone/iPad platform has opened up a world of opportunities for developers, inspired the creation of other, more open app stores, and will probably encourage, far more than deter, aspiring young developers, as Gruber's anecdote illustrates.


whether or not the ipad is a step in the wrong direction, i feel bad for the kid learning how to program by having to save up to pay for an apple developer account (and having to use his parents' bank account information since he's under age), learning with apple-supplied-and-regulated documentation, then submitting his work to apple, stressing out over whether they'll approve of it and think it's good enough, and then probably not making much money at all on the whole thing and taking that to mean he's a bad programmer. not to mention all of the idiots dismissing his software with "this app sux" on the app's review page.


The reality is that this 13 year old kid has positive reviews on his app, has the increased confidence to go along with actually making something, and will undoubtedly use that confidence and passion to create more substantive projects as he gets older.

The bar is ostensibly higher for the inexperienced to get involved with programming. But $99 for a developer license is nothing compared to the cost of an Apple ][e, Amiga, Atari, etc. Most kids already have a Mac anyhow. And if they don't, a Mac mini + LCD is not prohibitively expensive. PcC developers have to start on something, too.

I see the iPad as an easier way for a 13 year old to show off his work. And at that age, since you're not living off the money you make, you are largely living off props. And what better way to boost confidence than to have real live customers.


Most kids already have a Mac? You know, I thought I came from an average middle class family, but now I realize I must have been living in poverty. My 17-year-old budding programmer brother recently had to practically enter into a contract with my parents so that he could buy a crappy $350 Dell laptop (his first computer) with their financial help. There isn't a chance in hell that he'd ever get a Mac and a $99 developer license to go with it.

One of us, either you or I, is completely out of touch with the economic state of an average teenager.


i think we both know that the particular 13 year old mention in this article is rare and that developers of any age have a hard time making a hit iphone app. it's nice to focus on the few that have made lots of money, but the reality is that there are many thousands of apps that haven't made any money (especially considering the $99/year fee) and some that were never approved in the first place.

while you state that "most kids already have a mac", which i'd disagree with, the costs to acquire that and the iphone/ipod touch that they're actually using to run the app, are much higher than an old computer running linux, where they can make whatever they want for free and distribute it on the internet or at school without having to have anyone else approve it or anonymously judge its quality.


i think we both know that the particular 13 year old mention in this article is rare

I think most of the commentaries have overlooked the fact that the people who fondly remember typing in programs from the back pages of magazines are themselves extreme outliers, and only become more so with the passage of time. Many more programmers today get their start playing around with web technologies, for example, or through simply deciding to take some classes in college and learn how to do stuff.


He doesn't have to submit anything to Apple.

He can program his heart out for the rest of his life and never get near Apple (other than to pay $99/year for updated SDKs and certificates), building, downloading and running thousands of his own apps, entirely independently of the rest of the world. If he wants to share it with his friends (up to 100), he can.

I really don't understand the hate here.


The hate is because it doesn't make it right. You're just saying that it's not so bad.


I expect we'll soon see a news story where a 13 year old makes a game that Apple refuses to put in the App Store because it's too violent for kids.


Apple has a negligible global penetration, and I believe iPad will have a user base smaller than 1% of the total number of computers in the globe in the next 5 years, so even if Apple intends to be evil this will not affect any would be developer. Maybe in the US the case is different, but the iPad will probably not affect how a guy in China, Russia or India learns how to develop an application.


The way my 4 year old interacts with iPod Touch and does some amazing things. Learn words, numbers, play kid's games.

I think he will learn lot more interactively on iPad.


The apps are not the problem. That's actually a great use of the platform. Rather, when/if your child becomes curious about creating something of his own, he's met with a $100 barrier to entry.


Back in the day that was a $4000+ barrier to entry to buy compiler, hardware, etc. Let's be real - what parent wouldn't spring for $100?


Seriously. I can't imagine the set of parents who buy an iPhone/iPad for their kid but won't spend the $100 to let their kid build with it is a large set--in fact, it's probably empty.


Yep, even if they have to buy a Mac ($600 for a Mac Mini), that's still cheap. I'm glad my parents spent money on my "software habit," which has given me a lifelong valuable skill. I'd do the same for my kids in an instant.


No; he's met with a $100 barrier if he wants to supply his software to others via Apple's App Store. Creating and developing for OS X and for iPhone OS on iPod/iTouch/iPad is entirely free. The XCode suite and the SDKs cost nothing to download.


No, he's met with a $100 barrier if he wants to load that app onto his iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, or submit it to the AppStore.


This does not hinder someone from developing software, which is what "op" was under the impression of.


I was merely addressing an inaccuracy in your post. And sure it does: there are tons of scenarios where the Simulator doesn't work like the real hardware or doesn't work at all: location-based apps, many audio and graphics scenarios, Youtube video playback, etc.


But you can't install on any devices (even your own) without the $100 fee.


The (yearly) $100 fee might not be negligible compared to the price of the device (it's still 50% of the price of the cheapest iPod Touch), but if your child already has (access to) a Mac and iPod Touch or iPhone, I don't think it will be that much of a problem.


Can a 13-year-old legally be an Apple developer? Doesn't one have to be 18 to be bound by a legal contract like the Apple Developer Agreement?


While the App Store allows (at Apple's discretion) many people to write applications and have them available to a large user base, that is not even close to being 'open'.

All of these apps, and any content you want to buy and consume on your iPad, is going to be routed through Apple. To paraphrase an insightful author (who I cannot remember right now), it is an expensive device: apart from the initial investment, you will be paying Apple in order to tailor the device to your own desires, whether that involves downloading an app, a book, or a magazine to read.

Also, there's something else that gives me something to consider before contemplating another Apple purchase: the whole Flash dilemma seems to fit in too well with Apple's business goals for everything to be about Adobe being 'lazy' and having a poor-quality product in Flash. While Adobe may have its issues (can have high RAM requirements, particularly in Linux), I think they have enough talent that it could be fixed, at least for target platforms (probably not Linux, sadly, but at least popular mobile devices). On the other hand, Apple has no reason to allow flash. Why would you buy a $5 game if there were other, ad-supported versions that you could get for free through Safari?

I'm not panning Apple in general. I run Linux for work, but just started to complement those workstations with a couple Apple products for personal use.

It just doesn't ring the free/open platform bell for me; however, it's an ambitious and interesting project...I'm curious to see where it goes.


Perhaps Apple products represent the progress of innovation. Since Henry Ford was young, the kids tinkered with gas engines and buggies. Now, automobiles are a mature technology and largely black boxes. Consumer electronics have gone the same way. There used to be a time when kids tinkered with radios. Now radios are black boxes. Progress, though, has not destroyed opportunities for innovation. On the contrary, opportunities have grown. Robot technology, for example, seems to be just beginning.


Would that be the fate of software? will that be a benefit, if software like Apache be closed? and only vendors with closed technology sell closed software?


I'd like to call a moratorium on iPad speculation until the damned things actually ship. You know, wait for some concrete data, rather than bullshit hypotheticals.

Our imagined use-cases are usually wrong. Telephones were going to be a broadcast mechanism. Java was going to be an embedded systems language. Wave was going to replace email.

Sorry to be such a grump, but I feel like all useful analysis has been exhausted. Wait until people actually buy (or don't buy) the device, then we can talk some more.


In this case we're speculating about market evolution that will take place over the span of a decade or so... and by the time we have hard data it will be too late to change anything due to path dependence.


I agree, it is fun to speculate. /but i think everything that could be said up to this point has been said, half of those posts (including Gruber) is commentary on someone else.


The reason things are so good for us now is the free software and free culture that gave us the tools we have. Apple firmly sits on that back.


Where are the open-systems advocates who want to make something even better than the iPad instead of complain about it?


Not to be snarky, but why isn't John Gruber an evangelist at Apple? Surely Apple would want him on their team.


Why do you assume he'd want to work at Apple? He's certainly making more money on his own, doing his own thing, from his own home, on his own time. Working at Apple would be a step down.


Gruber has the magic combination of writing ability, old-school journalism skills, and getting Apple's product design philosophy. People like him because he makes good arguments supported by both facts and common sense.

The worst thing Apple could do would be to sully that with their money.


AFAIK, he used to work at Apple, but on apple.com. I don't think he was a software engineer, but I remember reading that he used to work on the web side. This was probably the mid- to late-90s.


A quick search of Wikipedia leads to an interview (link below) with this:

Now, correct me if I’m wrong – and please fill in any gaps – but here’s what your story looks like to me:

In 2002 you were doing freelance consulting, web-development and tech writing. Meanwhile, after months of picking out the right “slate blueish background color” you finally launch Daring Fireball and begin writing articles for which your wife was the first reader. Two years later you start offering the membership and also end up working at Bare Bones. Then two years after that, in 2006, you quit your day job and now spend your time publish DF from home.

JOHN: Your chronology is a bit off. I worked for Bare Bones from 2000 to 2002. I started DF a few months after that. Joyent was the company I worked for while writing DF, from January 2005 through March 2006. When I left Joyent was when I started writing DF full-time.

http://shawnblanc.net/2008/02/interview-john-gruber/

That doesn't sound like he ever worked for Apple. I think the interviewer would have mentioned it as part of Gruber's story in this context.


He's already evangelizing for Apple as a somewhat objective 3rd party. Bringing him in-house would cost them money and compromise his perceived reliability.


He's currently doing a good job of at least appearing neutral. See his recent comments on Apple's patent litigation against HTC -- he doesn't like that at all.

http://daringfireball.net/2010/03/this_apple_htc_patent_thin...

(And I, of course, am a completely neutral third-party John Gruber evangelist.)


Yeah, John Gruber is neutral about Apple the same way Cory Doctorow is neutral about open platform.


I’m quite confused about the meaning of neutral in this context. Being neutral in itself doesn’t seem like a virtue to me. Being neutral is a useful position if you don’t know what you are talking about. Being neutral is a useful skill if people expect you to present facts.

Both of those things don’t apply to either Cory Doctorow or John Gruber. It’s just normal that they hold and present certain views in their writing. Calling them out on not being neutral (or saying they successfully appear to be neutral) seems to not make any sense.

I expect them to not be neutral. I don’t read BoingBoing or Daring Fireball for news.


My comment was meant as a sarcasm. Of course both of them are not neutral, its hard to say if one can be truly neutral but at least we expect most journalist/author/reviewer/whatever-you-may-call-them to be somewhat objective in their views when doing reviews. Both Doctorow and Gruber have very polarized views on this subject.

Expecting Gruber (or Doctorow) to have neutral (or even an appearance of neutrality) views is quite silly.

Fan-boys will remain fan-boys and Gruber is a classic example of a fan-boy who will take any criticism of apple or their products, personally.

Yes, even fan-boys can say things against their idol occasionally, doesn't make them any less bias.


Ad hominem, dude. Ad hominem. “He is a fanboy!”/“He is not neutral!” is a classic ad hominem when not backed up by actual arguments :)


How long have you been reading his blog for? In order for my arguments to make sense to you, you will have to read more than just couple of his recent blog post.

I don't think it is ad hominem, I think it is widely accepted that he is an Apple fanboy. Your mileage may vary.

I am a happy macbook/iphone owner (but not exclusive apple user) and I think he is an apple fanboy.


I don't think it is ad hominem, I think it is widely accepted that he is an Apple fanboy.

The truth or falsehood of a claim is logically separate from whether it is an ad-hominem attack.


I have been reading Daring Fireball since 2004 or so.


On the topic of Atari 2600 BASIC, at least there was PEEK and POKE, not that it was easy to figure out the different addresses without a manual.

Amusingly, I have a floppy on my desk that my little brother wrote on when he was about 4 or 5. It has two commands on the label - POKE and PEAK :)


There actually was an amazing little book published by Compute! that contained information on every memory address of interest on the Atari 400/800, and what peeking/poking different values at each address did. It was fantastic, and a tinkering teenager's bible.


I'm not demeaning the actual work of Sam Kaplan, I applaud it, but I think argument from cute kid tinkering should only work once for each child in question.. (see video below) please find another 13 year old poster child whose love of technology and entrepreneurship has been kindled by apple's closed ecosystem.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=1377966471&play=1

also, does this kid have parents with marketing backgrounds or what? :)

all I'm saying is, maybe Sam Kaplan isn't the average kid on the block consuming apple products?


Yeah, the Atari comparison is ridiculous-- it's comparing the defending closed system with an older and MORE closed system.

Let's change it to, "Imagine a 13 year old in 1995 who could produce&sell his own internet game/app on the web." and see how the comparison flies. Because I can imagine that just fine.

I see the benefits


I hate that people like Gruber keep making the analogy to automobiles.

Because the car manufacturers didn't try to lock down their system and took government intervention to prevent this? But if Apple does it, it's just "progress".


It's a credit to Apple's importance to the industry (and future hackerdom, apparently) that noone is having the same debate over the JooJoo tablet.


Tinkerable or not, a platform where Apple decides which applications can be distributed stinks!


Faulty analogies. Computers are not cars. Web clients are not gaming consoles. The iPad is a closed client for an open system.


> Something important and valuable is indeed being lost as Apple shifts to this model of computing. But it’s a trade-off, because something new that is important and valuable has been gained.

Why should it have to be a trade-off? Because Steve Jobs said so? With Chrome OS, there's a dev mode where you can do/install everything you want and get into console mode. And Android is totally open source too. So as much as Apple wants us to believe there's a necessity in restricting, the truth is that there is absolutely not, it's an artificial restriction.


There is a big trade off the other way. Android has a terrible UX. There are a lot of examples but one is their store. App prices are listed in Dollars, Euros, Pounds, and Yen and that is just a small sampling of apps I've seen. What you gain in openness with open OS you lose majorly in polish and usability. There is no perfect platform that satisfies all needs.


Android has a terrible UX.

To the extent that's true, it's not because Android is open. The Android Market does have many shortcomings (my favorite WTF is the 325 character description limit), but fixing them in no way requires adopting a closed model.

There is no perfect platform that satisfies all needs.

Agreed. I have no problem with the existence of a walled-garden platform that has armed guards facing both in and out. I do have a problem with that being the only model for mobile computing, which is exactly what Apple is aiming for with their lawsuits asserting that Android is illegal.


> Android has a terrible UX. There are a lot of examples but one is their store. App prices are listed in Dollars, Euros, Pounds, and Yen and that is just a small sampling of apps I've seen.

That just means that Google didn't do a good job at designing their app store. Why does it have anything to do with imposing restrictions on developers?


If you are regular guy using a car to go from A to B, you definitely don't want to open up the hood. But if you bought a car to learn a thing or two about the engine inside, then you are in trouble with a locked down hood. The same with kids who wanna be hackers.

If your kid want to be a hacker and learn things, he is definitely going to be in big trouble with locked down devices like iPad and companies like Apple .




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