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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.

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