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Apple changes words in order to change the debate (37signals.com)
183 points by marilyn on Oct 19, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 135 comments

It's easy to look at this cynically but it's not unreasonable to change the conversation. Google's exploitation of "open" has been disingenuous at best. When you try to square their high ideals against reality, you end up in an uncomfortable spot.

The fact is, Android's openness does not make it to the end user. Its openness is exploited for the benefit of the carriers to load branded crapware onto the device, disable specific features and other nonsense. Don't like this? Too bad. Android's openness isn't for you, now that carriers and manufacturers are getting wise to your hackery tricks. They're going to make it as hard as possible to root your Android phone. So you'd better get used to that awesome Blockbuster app.

In the end, iOS and Android devices are on even footing in terms of big companies trying to control the final experience.

Which leaves us with one thing: motivations.

Carrier motivations are to fuck you out of as much money as humanly possible in the short term. In the past that meant disabling device features to force you into their ecosystem – I'm sure this will continue one way or another. They'll load branded garbage onto your device. They'll put specific marketplaces on your device, and maybe even remove Google's if they want to. Their manufacturing partners will happily conspire with them on this, including the firmware fuse that prevents rooting your device so you can make it somewhat clean again.

Apple is no less ruthless with its control, but it exercises it for a different purpose: To deliver the most integrated, user-friendly, clean experience possible. (edit: and so, Apple's play is the converse: to maximize your cheerful purchases of Apple gear in the long term – thanks, matwood)

If you're a carrier, Android's openness makes it much more valuable than iOS in the short term. In that, Google's piety will ring true. If you're an end user, the net gain of that openness is zero, and at times it's even a loss.

I trust Apple infinitely more than I trust the carriers to make something I'll enjoy using. And that's the key to understand. With Apple, what I buy will always be clean. I'll always instantly understand the tradeoffs. With Android, it's going to be a gamble. How hard has my carrier boned this device? I'll have to research if I'm a nerd or be surprised if I'm everyone else. And there goes the power of Android as a brand.

Android is no longer Google. Android is the carriers.

When was the last time you heard someone write those guys a love letter?

You make a lot of great points. If we are to believe the rumors that Apple offered the first iPhone to VZW, but refused to let VZW screw it up it adds to your point about the carriers being the real problem. I have to wonder if that is still a sticking point and one of the reasons that VZW has yet to get the iPhone.

Apple is no less ruthless with its control, but it exercises it for a different purpose: To deliver the most integrated, user-friendly, clean experience possible.

While this is true, never forget that Apples end goal is also to make money. What Apple has figured out though is that by making great products that for the most part work, people will buy and buy and buy. It's almost like the carriers have decided that they suck and will always suck so their goal is to milk every customer as quickly as possible before they leave.

Apples goal seems to be to get a customer for life, and they do a pretty good job at accomplishing just that.

> Apples end goal is also to make money. What Apple has figured out though is that by making great products that for the most part work, people will buy and buy and buy

Definitely true. My preference for Apple comes from exactly this fact. They take the long view for making money. Making money by making things people love is something that's a fine deal for me – everyone gets a great value. Apple turns down many short term opportunities to goose their revenues because they refuse to ship something they can't be proud of.

Carriers take the short term view, at the expense of their product and their users. This is so frustrating to me.

>> While this is true, never forget that Apples end goal is also to make money.

But they don't design products to make money. That's what separates them from other companies. They design products that people will love.

    Apple's goal isn't to make money. Our goal is to design 
    and develop and bring to market good products. We trust 
    as a consequence of that, people will like them, and as 
    another consequence we'll make some money. But we're 
    really clear about what our goals are.*

    Jonathan Ive
    Senior VP Industrial Design, Apple

In my experience, this view is shared by all the execs at Apple.

* quote via http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/next/archives/2009/07/j...)

     But we're really clear about what our goals are.
It seems that when the topic is Google, and someone mentions their "Don't be evil" motto, someone else points out that in the end they are a for-profit company, and the shareholders will have something to say if they are not behaving that way.

This is no less true for Apple, though it is less often pointed out.

As a money-making scheme, making good products seems a pretty good plan. However, if and when enough consumers differ with Apple as to what constitutes "good", Apple will be in the same position as every other publicly-held company: they will be required, under penalty of a stockholder lawsuit, to adjust.

Isn't it interesting that in order to be the most greedy - as in, make the most money - Apple's approach is to out-design their products so that customers will actually bring about emotion and customers will love them, and buy more of them.

ah, capitalism.

Apples goal seems to be to get a customer for life, and they do a pretty good job at accomplishing just that.

Apple's bread and butter is the end-to-end UX. Android is the carrier's attempt to get their own enhanced UX arsenal so they can answer Apple. They won't win that way. In the WWII pacific theater, the Japanese started out with more manuverable planes. The US answered not by playing Japan's game, but countering with their own strategy. (Planes with better armor and enhanced performance and more of them.)

Android won't win by playing Apple's game. It will definitely lose if it plays the carrier's game. Android needs to leverage its openness advantage in a way that is understandable to the customer. Perhaps this will be a replay of Apple vs. Wintel?

Although I agree with the general point that Android is not totally open in an absolute sense, I think you too easily ignore the ways in which it is open relative to the iPhone.

First and foremost, I don't have to jailbreak my phone to install apps not "approved" by Google/the carrier/whoever. I can download an APK from anywhere.

Secondly, the code is open. This does matter in practice, because there are people who can and do take advantage of this to create modified versions (e.g. Cyanogen). If Google decides not to take a particular direction, but enough people want it, it can happen.

Thirdly, it's not tied to one hardware manufacturer. Apple may make great hardware, but they attack a certain target market, which not everyone fits into.

Finally, although your argument about carriers has some truth, it misses a couple of points. It's not like iPhone users are exempt from all carrier restrictions - why can I tether via my Android phone yet iPhone-owning friends cannot? And there is nothing about Android that forces you to use a certain carrier (ironically, in the US, it's iPhone users that have no choice of carrier). I purchased my phone on T-Mobile in the UK, now I use it on another carrier in Australia, no problem.

Carriers can actually disallow side loading of applications. AT&T seems to be the only US carrier to do this so far and there are work arounds but the power is there for carriers to do it.

Why wouldn't they be able to? Even if there wasn't an easy config switch that you can use when building Android, it wouldn't be too hard for a carrier to make a few modifications to disable the installation of non-market APKs.

I can download an APK from anywhere.

Out of curiosity, do you (or any Android users reading this) find yourself doing this with any frequency?


Last example: Angry Birds

It wasn't in the Market at first. And many seem to do it since getjar.com was down some hours after Rovio announced via twitter that you could get it there.

I host pre-beta versions of my Apps on my own servers and give friends (and their friends) access to it. This would be impossible with iOS. I would have to know and register the hardware IDs of all devices in advance.

I have indeed installed apps this way. I admit that most apps I've installed are from the market, although that's missing the point. Frequency doesn't matter as much as the actual ability to make the choice independent of Google (or indeed any single corporation).

If you think this doesn't matter in practice, consider Apple vs Google Voice on the iPhone. Apple rejected (or "didn't approve") voice, leaving iPhone users with no way to access it. Users would be better off if Google could have hosted a Google Voice package external to the app market.

I've done it for beta apps and some other things I've found on websites. Often there's a QR code to scan to download the file that's not in the market.

Swype keyboard is an example of an app that's not in the market but can be installed via APK. For most users, it's not a big deal, but I think that's mostly because the Market has far fewer rules than the AppStore, so even apps that require root access can be uploaded to the Market.

I'll often use the barcode reader app to read QR codes for apps, some of which take you to the market page, others are links directly to apk files.

Only to keep SL4A updated. It hasn't made its way to the marketplace yet.


That's how I installed Fennec.

Same here, also couchdb and a few other apps I've found that were available as APK and o'reilly books.

I've never done it.

Quite a bit.

As valid as your points are, said arguments are also changing the conversation.

"Open" isn't very useful PR - which is what it basically feels like with Google at the moment - and I think it's fine Jobs is trying to highlight the advantages of the iOS platform.

37signals should move on from Political Communication 101 and avoid getting caught up in spin vs. content.


I'm not sure Android can ever be truly open. As far as I know (please correct me if I am wrong) the firmware that Motorola or HTC (or whoever) ships works around bugs that the vanilla Android does not address (e.g. the Motorola Droid camera). So even if I bypass the carrier and install vanilla Android myself, I might not get a fully functional phone. So I install the firmware directly from the manufacturer, and here the problem is that the updates take months to arrive, or never arrive at all- the hardware manufacturer wants me to upgrade to a new phone. To make it worse, these updates are also security updates, not just feature upgrades.

How is this different than the linux kernel for regular PC's. Theres hardware shortcomings in abundance that are worked around. If the process was truly open, a reputable tree would emerge with said workarounds. The mobile market is nowhere near as fragmented as the PC + peripherals market and yet open software works pretty reliably on the PC.

Linux on the desktop is dead. Didn't you get the memo? http://linux.slashdot.org/story/10/10/18/1312214/Desktop-Lin... And it's dead exactly because of fragmentation. I don't think Android will fare any better.

I'm not sure if you are being sarcastic. If you're not, fragmentation (Gnome versus KDE, i.e. competition), is precisely what drives desktop Linux (see HN comment http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1746192)

It only drives desktop Linux for the geeks. Joe and Jane Public don't really know the nuanaces of KDE or Gnome and they don't want to know. They want a product that just works and Apple is really really good at providing that to them.

and the public don't need to know, they just need to use "Ubuntu" or whatever is installed for them.

I've been actually shocked by the number of people nowadays who have told me that they use Linux at home, let alone the number of people who have heard of it. Ask these people whether they use Gnome or KDE and they won't know. Ask them what Linux they use, and they will: Ubuntu, almost exclusively.


The Android repo will not contain all the platforms, I think usually Google are only interested in putting the source for their GEDs there. But the above is probably a good start.

"The fact is, Android's openness does not make it to the end user."

Android's openness has made it to those who want the openness. The fact that my phone OS is open is the thing I care about.

(I'm running SkyRaider 3.3 on my HTC Incredible on Verizon.)

That's great for now, but phone manufacturers seem to be trying to close down holes as fast as they can - see the Droid X and G2.

(Not that people won't figure out ways around them, but if Android were truly open to users you wouldn't need exploits to get around limitations...)

I think it's inaccurate to say "Android" isn't "truly open". It's open when it leaves Google and the code is still out there. I can still benefit from that openness even on a phone that carriers added some restrictions to.

The blame should rest entirely with the carriers.

This isn't "Apple vs Android" this is "Apple vs Carriers".

> This isn't "Apple vs Android" this is "Apple vs Carriers".

That's an academic distinction, though, wouldn't you agree? Android as software is perhaps "truly open" but what about Android as a user experience?

Android, from the perspective of the vast majority of people who will interact with it, is what the carriers say it is.

So get a Nexus One.

The fact that there are multiple suppliers give the user choice. They can include how locked down a phone is in their criteria for making that choice, and buy one direct if they wish to have a phone that's not locked down by a middleman.

> So get a Nexus One.

That phone is not publicly available unless you're a dev.

Even ignoring that 99.9% of users don't know the meaning of "open source", I'll believe Android is truly open in the FSF sense I care about when RMS uses one. Until then, I have trouble as seeing it as much more than rhetoric. Sure, you can compile and put your own OS on your phone, but I don't know of anyone who's actually done it (and nodata points out in an uncle to this post that you can't actually do it on some of the popular phones).

I do know a lot more people that have extended both iOS and Android using the developer API's, so all the evidence I see is that even technical users don't care about RMS's "freedoms", except the one to extend the software running on their devices, and the market response indicates all many care about the "integrated system" Steve wants to focus on, even when AT&T service sucks ass (just today, I got two voicemails without the phone ringing (granted, this is in NYC)).

(disclaimer: everything stated is my own opinion, not representative of employers past or present, etc.)

> I'll believe Android is truly open in the FSF sense I care about when RMS uses one.

I don't think you appreciate how restrictive that is. The only example of open hardware is the Yeelong, since that's what Stallman uses. The only open source distro is gNewsense, etc.

So Linux is not considered open anymore because you cannot install your own modified version on your Tivo?

Look up Cyanogenmod.

How is rooting your Android phone any different than jailbreaking your iPhone?

You don't have the source to iOS.

The amount of crippling done by the carriers is not Android's fault nor is it in any way advantaged by Android being open. The same crapware has been on Symbian and other (closed) mobile operating systems for a long time.

Apple is the only manufacturer that was able to convince carriers to sell their phones without any of that garbage. I don't know what is stopping HTC/Motorala/Samsung from trying to enforce similar conditions for its Android-based devices. I guess the carriers simply have too much control over what gets into the market and refuse to sell anything that they aren't allowed to tamper with.

However, I agree with you that the Android brand will suffer very badly from this.

" I don't know what is stopping HTC/Motorala/Samsung from trying to enforce similar conditions for its Android-based devices."

If say HTC tried to enforce such conditions, they'd have little leverage because their devices are practically Android-running commodities. If HTC threatened to walk away from a carrier, it likely wouldn't hurt the carrier that much.

Since Apple's the only iOS device vendor, they have a bit more leverage over carriers.

They certainly would have leverage if they built a phone people really want. This is exactly how Apple gained that leverage.

Alternatively, they could team up with the other manufacturers and boycott carriers which refuse to sell their phones as-is. But they simply don't seem to care about their end-users as much as the carriers (and neither does Google apparently).

edit: spelling.

"They certainly would have leverage if they built a phone people really want."

There's that, but it won't be too long before someone else releases The Hot New Android Phone. (Which might not live up to the hype, but it'll take the spotlight off the unavailable phone for a while.)

"This is exactly how Apple gained that leverage."

See above. The only company releasing Hot New Apple Phones is Apple.

> The amount of crippling done by the carriers is not Android's fault nor is it in any way advantaged by Android being open.

Of course it is. Proof in the pudding: iOS has none of it.

> The same crapware has been on Symbian and other (closed) mobile operating systems for a long time.

because Symbian and WiMo were open to carriers and manufacturers.

> I don't know what is stopping HTC/Motorala/Samsung from trying to enforce similar conditions for its Android-based devices.

Because they don't care and because their client is the carrier, not the end-user. An aussie ISP put it quite succinctly a few days/weeks ago when they declared they didn't understand why Apple didn't bow to their demand when they were its biggest customer in Australia.

To Apple, carriers are not customers. They're generally hindrances and they might be partners, but Apple's customers are end-user.

Not so for HTC or moto.

Of course it is. Proof in the pudding: iOS has none of it.

You missed my point, which was that the crippling is not Android's fault but that of the carriers and phone manufacturers. Its also not due to some inherent property of iOS that it doesn't have any crapware, but thanks to Apple caring about their customers more than about the carriers.

To Apple, carriers are not customers. They're generally hindrances and they might be partners, but Apple's customers are end-user.

Not so for HTC or moto.

Exactly. But again, this has nothing to do with Android or its openness.

Bingo. While analyzing the sales call from a perspective of rhetoric is fair, and the analysis is valid, there is something to be said about how good the perspective models are at creating something users want. Just as in science, Aristotelian physicists looked at as a heavy rock on a string struggling to fall where Newtonian physicists see a pendulum, Apple seems to be have years of evidence that striving for an "integrated approach" is simply a better model for making good consumer devices.

I keep hearing about the "branded crapware" that comes with lots of Android phones. I've had a G1 since they first came out, it didn't have anything like that on it, and I haven't upgraded yet. I know this does happen though, but I'm not sure to what extent? What proportion of new Android phones have this? 90%? 5%?

A few weeks ago I bought an "Epic 4G" phone from Sprint. This is one of the Samsung Galaxy S variants. It has a custom GUI called "TouchWiz" made to look more like the iphone and is loaded with Sprint applications including a game demo, nascar related and football related applications that are installed as "system applications" and cannot be removed by the user.

It also has a Sprint replacement for the wifi hotspot tethering so the user is required to pay $30/mo for that feature that is normally native to Android even when they're already paying for an unlimited data plan.

It has sprint logos and music that plays on startup and shutdown that cannot be removed without rooting the phone.

A recent update added a media portal where the user can purchase movies and tv shows from Sprint partners. Also a "system app" that cannot be uninstalled.

That really sucks. But my question was, is your experience typical of most Android users, or a minority?

Out of what I've seen so far, most. I personally have a Nexus One, but my girlfriend's Cliq XT has all kinds of bullshit installed. It has yet to get 2.2, as far as I know, so we'll see if she still gets tethering...

I wonder if this is just a more common phenomenon in the US than the rest of the World. I've met a few people with Android phones in the UK and none of them have had anything like this.

There was a case earlier this year where Vodafone issued an update which added some crap like this to peoples phones, but enough people complained that they removed it in their next update which upgraded people to Froyo:


Maybe people in the US just don't complain enough ;)

I have a Nexus One which also has no crapware. I had a G1 before that. I got rid of the Sprint EVO that Google gave me at I/O for many of the reasons people are bringing up in this discussion. At this point I would doubt that less than 90% of new Android phones are crapware free, or aren't crippled in some way (wifi hotspot removal is the big one).

It's really a shame. But maybe Google is taking a longer-term view than many here give them credit for. I still believe that their goal is to commoditize carriers. They tried to push too fast with the Nexus One and google.com/phone and got burned, but that doesn't mean they've given up.

> If you're an end user, the net gain of that openness is zero, and at times it's even a loss

I have about 15 home screen widgets, an alternative dialer, alternative browser and a bunch of other programs that would never be allowed on iOS that beg to differ.

I mean, to each his own – but having three steering wheels in my car wouldn't be sufficient incentive to drive something that blasted "SPRINT!" at me every time I opened the door.

Pick the platform you like, by all means, but what you mentioned is more about design decisions than true "openness."

I have an alternative dialler and an Opera browser on my iphone which I downloaded from the App Store.

Quite a few rules have changed on iOS, so both the examples you gave are allowed and available.

For the masses, who buy everything thru the appstore, Apple controls the experience.

But this does not make iOS "closed". You can get whatever widgets you want built using web technologies, and they run like apps.

And if you're a developer, you can put whatever programs you want on your device.

Since all the open advocates should be advocating open source as well, why complain about iOS? IF you want to put open source software on your device, you can just compile it. Apple gives you the development tools for free (the core of which is itself open source) and charges $99 for handling the certificates an authentication for apps.

But you can put any app you want on your iPhone if you're a developer.

IF you're a consumer, you're not capable of compiling apps for your android phone either anyway.

(For some values of "developer" here I'm including enthusiasts who may not really be able to program but are find with compiling code.)

> You can get whatever widgets you want built using web technologies, and they run like apps

You must not know what a widget actually is. Unless there's been some startling update to iOS what you are referring to is nothing like an Android widget.

While you're right that carriers will do everything possible to lock the systems down, there will still be channels to get "clean" phones out of the box; right now, you just need to sign up for the Android Developer program and you can order "developer phones", which are Nexus Ones.

That's a tangent to the main point which is that people will still crack the "locked-down" carrier phones and you'll be able to flash over the default image with your own. Once this happens, Android being open makes all the difference. With a jailbroken iPhone you can do a few new things, with a rooted Android you can do whatever you want and it's pretty easy to change things because the source is right there.

Drop by xda-developers sometime. There are lots of different kernels out there for Android phones and lots of different ROMs that wouldn't be possible if it weren't for Android's openness. Can you run something like compcache on your iPhone?

Agree with you about android's openness not making it to the end user completely. Its not just an issue with android, even linux based devices (like the Creative Zii) do ship with the source for GPL components but omit the tools required to flash a user built image to the device. I think this takes away the freedoms that the GPLv2 intended to deliver to the end user.

Agreed too. The Android is not open unless I can easily modify/recompile/deploy code to it.

GPLv3 would fix that, incidentally.

One fact I'll give to Google about being open, is the applications marketplace. You can install any app you fancy. The Appstore is a different story.

But so far, I haven't found any compelling reason to give up on the integrated, user-friendly, clean experience possible provided by Apple.

True that you can install any app you want with Android, but on many devices, the Android Market is simply not available. It depends on the device and whether or not they've gotten the blessing from Google. So yes, they are open in that you can sideload apps, but the failure to have the Market on all of their devices is another side effect of this fragmentation. At least with Apple, you know there will be an Appstore on which you can get apps on every device they sell.

Android is no longer Google. Android is the carriers.

If you play their ball game and buy subsidised through their retail outlets and thus subject yourself to their twisted rules. That's a far call from the Apple side of the equation where regardless of how you acquire the device, short of exploiting security holes, you play by their rules.

I have a Nexus One, I bought it unsubsidised up front, it is a truly open device, I didn't have to hack it to get it this way. The fact that Joe Public can be conned by carrier retail sales to buy a different device and be subjected to a different experience is more his problem than Google's. The "unbreakable tying" between the carriers and Google does not exist.

That would be a really, really great avenue for The Right Android to flourish.

Except that Google discontinued the Nexus One.

There just aren't sufficient financial incentives for an unlocked, un-fucked-with Android phone, bundled with rainbows and puppy dogs, to come to market. So if even Google won't stand behind that approach, who will?

The fact remains that 99% of Android devices will ship because a carrier decrees it – especially in the United States. Academically, your approach is fine but it doesn't really apply to the reality of how people can actually buy the Android experience.

Even though the Nexus is discontinued, you can still get the same phones the carriers subsidise and rebadge outside their official channels under different labels without their hinderances, this is how it works at the moment where I could go on ebay right now and buy a Samsung Galaxy S unlocked and unsubsidised and have effectively the same thing as I have with the N1. Although you're right about the N1 being discontinued it doesn't make a difference to the ability to acquire an unburdened device through alternate channels to the carriers.

Apple is no less ruthless with its control, but it exercises it for a different purpose: To deliver the most integrated, user-friendly, clean experience possible.

One doesn't require "ruthless control" to "deliver the most integrated, user-friendly, clean experience possible". Apple could relax its control a little and let people who want to use their hardware for other purposes, and void the warranty, do so easily. This wouldn't take away at all from the experience that Apple wants to provide out of the box.

Apple uses ruthless control to control its branding.

One doesn't require "ruthless control" to "deliver the most integrated, user-friendly, clean experience possible".

Would it be possible for you to provide a counter-example that demonstrates your point? You may have a point, but it seems completely unsupported by available facts and I am hoping there is an example out there of what you think would be the "proper" degree of control to hit those goals.

What about not having hardware locked down would keep Apple from providing an integrated, user-friendly, clean experience out of the box? I didn't associate "ruthless control" and an "integrated, user-friendly, clean experience", the comment I responded to did.

I'll use Apple itself as an example. I can install Linux without issue on my MacBook Pro, and despite that Apple still provides an integrated, user-friendly, clean experience in the use of MacBook Pro. Apple doesn't advertise anything other than their own branding and experience with their laptops and desktops, so their message of integrated, user-friendly, clean experience when using their software on their hardware stands, even though it's not locked down.

This is a red herring anyway. I don't believe I'd be able to list anything other than Apple as an example of something integrated, user-friendly, clean experience without someone pointing out that whatever it is isn't as good as a random Apple product and thus doesn't qualify as a counterexample. It's really easy for someone to say "I don't think X provides an experience on par with Apple products, even though it isn't ruthlessly controlled" for any X.

The openness reaches the consumer via competition. There will be many Android offerings from many manufacturers with a thousand different configurations and offered by all the carriers. HTC vs Motorola vs Samsung vs LG, Tmobile vs ATT vs Sprint vs Verizon, all trying to outdo each other. The winner is the consumer, even the Apple consumer because the competition will keep Jobs raving mad and working hard.

If you want to make the claim that the carriers are likely to duke it out and deliver any net value to the end-user, you're going to have to make a much stronger case than handwaving about competition. We're already talking about wireless carriers, so the subject of market failure shouldn't be alien to your frame of reference.

The only material improvement I see in the last five years is the market power that Apple has managed to steal from them, which it's put to mostly-good use.

Until Google is willing to start throwing its weight around with the user experience, Android represents no net gain to my thinking. But Google can't even enforce minimal backward compatibility or timely updates to its hardware partners, and is now running actively in reverse, painting a smiley-face on the carriers' opening up their own balkanized app stores. How does that serve Android developers or users?

Don't you think Apple "managed to steal" the AT&T deal because of AT&T's competition with Verizon?

My point is that the "competitive market" you'd applauding was designed by the carriers with the specific goal of preventing anyone from ever doing what Apple did.

That Apple was able to do it was marvelous, but it was also stupendously unlikely: a combination of the willingness to enter an unpromising market, the ability to pull it off, and the timing to convince a weakened Cingular to let them produce a phone without undue interference. It had never happened before, and Android doesn't make it more likely to happen again -- quite the opposite, really.

So your argument is that the only company capable of creating competition is Apple. Strange.

My argument is that "Markets! Yay!" is not an argument. Most markets require some regulation, and some luck, to function optimally. This particular market needs more of both.

Google's strategy with Android is to surrender complete control to the carriers. This is a consequence of them using an open source license that doesn't have GPLv3 style protections to ensure continued openness. Apple is the only company that we have seen in recent years do anything to weaken the carrier oligopoly. They probably aren't the only ones who have tried, but they are the only ones who have succeeded publicly. Thus it is entirely fair to say that Apple is the only company capable of creating competition in this market, so far.

Lookup http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligopoly

There are very few carriers in the US and they all have the same motivation for locking the phones. The number of phone models don't matter.

Heck, why is there so little competition between ISPs and carriers in the US? Cheap 100 Mbit internet connection, anyone?

By this reasoning, Android being open is not an advantage. I gain just as much buying an iPhone. I think this is an interesting shift of the debate- does open really matter? Or more specifically, who does open benefit and who cares about open?

The whole openness discussion is so little inside baseball to me, and I don't know that the consumer impact will be all that great. There's a point of diminishing returns when the consumer has -too- much choice. They will just get confused.

Of the millions who are buying smartphones from any company, I tend to think only a small percentage care about the types of things we love to debate here.

I would say that the main reasons for a consumer (and they vastly outnumber us nerds) to buy a smartphone are:

* make a call

* send/receive texts

* send/receive e-mails

* surf the web

* take pictures

* look pretty

* do the facebook

* have some sort of mapping/gps

* have some sort of handsfree

* have decent battery life

And guess what, just about --every-- smartphone out there will satisfy that wish list, and do a pretty damned good job of it.

Openness? Number of Apps? Closed environment? Jailbreaking? Rooting? Nitpicky UI details?

Only nerds care about that stuff.

Good point, it is in Apple's interest to reframe the debate. Theoretically, Apple could argue that Google's core assets (search and advertising) aren't open-sourced. Their Android apps (like Maps) aren't open-source and Apple could say that "open" is just a marketing buzzword that Google uses to try and beat Apple with. However, that will be an argument on turf picked by Google.

"What is best for the customer" (and also what is best for app developers) is imo a much better argument for Apple and so it isn't surprising that Apple would prefer to fight on this turf.

As an app developer, I develop for the iPhone/iPad (even though I wrote an Android app with their beta SDK long before Apple launched the app store and Google launched their first Android device). So I personally agree with the case made by Apple.

In this context, it is also worth noting that Rovio (which earned >$1M/month with their $0.99 iPhone app) recently released an Android app, but made it free. They seem to be using the "ad-supported" model for the same reason that many developers don't develop paid Android apps (and I hope I haven't offended too many Android users by pointing out that Android users download very few paid apps). Rovio has also mentioned the difficulties with Android fragmentation. Overall, I'd say that Apple's argument does resonate in the market.Google's argument (and the fact that it is available on all major US carriers) is also very effective. Overall, this is a great time for mobile devices/apps

It certainly resonates with developers. Ultimately, however, that hardly matters.

Apple allowed an Android toe-hold in the market and they're going to continue to pay dearly for it. Google has steadily improved the OS, and the phones reflect that. The hardware has gotten better and the overall user experience has continued to improve. Not to mention that that quality of the third party apps has continued to improve as well.

We are likely to see at least one more major OS revision for Android before Apple finally brings something over to Verizon. Remember, Google has brought some serious talent to bear here with the likes of Matias Duarte (user experience for WebOS) now on the Android front.

Fragmentation is a developer issue. The app-store issues are by and large developer issues (particularly since Google has finally opened up the paid app options). Get outside of the echo chamber and you'll see lots of folks happily using their Android phones and feeling pretty good about it.

Jobs is getting agitated because, in my opinion, he knows this is a battle he's going to lose. Customization is right at the top of features most important to cell phone users (I can't post the citation, it's an internal study I was given access to). Android's open philosophy certainly filters down to the end user when it comes to customizing the phones. Be it with new launchers, keyboards (my iPhone toting friends are intensely jealous of Swype), or just about anything else on the phone.

Remember ringtones and wall-paper after all. That was an incredibly huge market driven by the folks wanting to customize their phone. Cases are another expression of that. Android eventually wins, because for most folks, that is the driving factor. Apps are going to be a wash in the end... both platforms already have enormous breadth and precious little in the way of high quality. They won't influence the outcome. Apple will lose, simply because they insist on being Apple.

I don't think fragmentation is only a developer issue. It breaks up the target market into silos, which means it will require more effort from a developer for less potential revenue. If this results in fewer and lower-quality apps on the Android Market, this will impact the perceived value from the viewpoint of the customer.

If I were to buy a phone, I don't want to have to worry about whether the apps on my friend's Android phone will work on mine. It's one more thing for me to worry about, and it may be just the thing to stop me from buying it.

Apple could probably open source ARM Darwin in the same way they open sourced x86 Darwin to counter this argument if they really wanted to. Here it is -- but we're keeping all the interesting bits to ourselves.

Framing is powerful and fascinating game every spokesperson worth its money plays.

Steve Jobs talked a lot about fragmentation and brushed openness aside. Why then did Andy Rubin not talk about fragmentation but emphasize openness? Because he is not stupid, that’s why.

That’s what makes many of those public fights very frustrating to watch. In a perfect world humans wouldn’t get distracted by frames. They would be able to recognize that there is nearly always more than one aspect to a story.

It absolutely drives me crazy when, for example, so many advocates of nuclear power can only ever talk about CO2 and so many adversaries of nuclear power can only ever talk about safety and waste.

It's not really relevant to your point, but I happen to be a nuclear power advocate who thinks it's safe, clean, and efficient.

Another "great" example of this: the Corn Refiner's Association has applied to rebrand HFCS into "corn sugar."


It's a very interesting situation because while it's clearly a "typical evil corporation" move, it's one that's objectively justifiable given the evidence. Because I am anti-putting-sugar-in-everything (HFCS or otherwise), I hope that this will result in more people associating corn syrup with sugar. All the campaigns against HFCS should really have been campaigning against all forms of sugar all along and the association will (perhaps inadvertently) make people more averse of products with too much sugar.

Wow, that's fascinating. My gut reaction to the term "corn sugar" is "that doesn't sound too bad."

I can totally see where framing this as integrated vs. fractured can happen. A coworker has an Android based phone and the latest update from the phone manufacturer killed the app she had to get to the corporate email account. 3 months in, the problem still isn't resolved. You end up with a gaggle of vendors all pointing the finger at each other as well as the app maker.

On my iPod Touch, I can get to the corporate email perfectly fine, through all of the iOS updates I've gotten.

Apple can test all of their base features and their apps and know that they work on every device they ship. It just works and it is integrated.

There are some great reads by the cited examples.

George Lakoff's (left) Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate - is a fascinating read regardless of your political beliefs. http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Think-Elephant-Debate-Progressive...

The Frank Luntz (right) example of death tax vs. estate tax is pretty well known. What he put together for the GOP about how to frame the bailouts/Wall St/financial reform/Obama admin this year is also a fascinating political document: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/23808095/Language-of-Financial-R...

I really think the comparison with politicians is (probably unintentionally) disingenuous. The thing that would make reframing an argument in different terms dishonest is (a) when it is done without telling you- politicians don't say, look we don't like such and such term, we're going to call it this instead and (b) when the terms that it is reframed in have undue intrinsic positive or negative value.

When Steve did it, he clearly stated what he was doing and justified reframing the argument in that way. In that case, reframing a debate using more appropriate terms to really approach the core of what is different is an honest tactic that is often necessary to really compare two things objectively.

Secondly, the terms fragmented vs. integrated appear to have less intrinsic value than open (good) and closed (bad).

As such, you can argue with which is the most relevant framework to compare the two systems (and actually, this is going to be different for different user groups- manufacturers care about different things than developers, or end users), but I don't like the implicit characterization of his reframing the argument as somehow dishonest. That seems close-minded.

Except the debate isn't open vs. closed. It's iOS vs. Android. Since Jobs is trying to strengthen Apple's position in that debate, where's the foul?

We can also look at it as Apple viewing this from customer perspective (fragmented vs. integrated) and Google viewing this from production and development philosophy point of view. Which view is more relevant to a customer? (where a customer is your regular Joe/Jane)

Oldest trick in the book. It's good to see the tech industry catch up with what politicians discovered centuries ago.

The use of framing the debate like this in the tech industry is pretty old. One of the most notable examples that comes to mind is how the fledgling open-systems community (the loose collection of competing Unix vendors back in the 80s) kept pounding the pulpit of "standards", and Microsoft countered by propagating the phrase "de facto standard" in the trade rags.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Why would be it good to see an industry take cues from the least honest profession?

I wrote that with sarcasm dripping from my words, but I suppose it didn't translate.

Open and closed can mean so many things in this context. The whole debate really needs to be more semantically focused on what they mean to really make any sense.

The "real" real problem is not the carriers. Its the way the government manages the spectrum.

We could have a dynamic marketplace where devices, users, networks could buy spectrum in advance or real time and even resell it.

We need incentives for making the most use of spectrum, for making more spectrum with faster clocks. Seems we have incentives for controlling and inhibiting innovation.

Instead we've sold spectrum to the highest bidder who can then control access to it and have no real open competition. Maybe Google's bid last year will change that a bit (http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9910932-7.html).

You ought to be able to create your own network by buying spectrum in a fluid marketplace. Or just be one guy buying spectrum as you need it for some device you made yourself.

Don't if that all makes sense, but I think you may at least see what I mean by the problem behind the problem.

Growing up, my stepmother was very big on the power of words, and how you can change people's minds based on how you say a thing. She was right, of course... but to my mind, that seemed like protecting myself from this manipulation was more important (and more ethical) than using this knowledge to manipulate other people. For a long time, I'd practice re-writing everything I heard using words with the most negative connotations I could without changing the meaning of the sentence.

"I gave him a job, and his skills and abilities are helping my business do well." vs. "I am profitably exploiting his skills and abilities."

the meaning is essentially the same, but don't say the second one in public. (in my teenage years I tried that, too.. it ended badly.)

Anyhow, I don't spend as much effort on it as I did, but I still think being aware of this sort of thing is an important part of everyone's mental self-defense.

For those who would like to listen to exactly what Steve Jobs said, the audio is posted at http://www.apple.com/investor/ and will probably be there for about 10 - 15 days.

I still remember how the Bush administration carefully worded some bills.

Healthy Forest Initiative - opens up more parks to the timber industry

Patriot Act - Who would dare say they are against Patriotism?

I'm strongly against patriotism actually but I see your point.

Apple could be much more open with iOS and at the same time be not less integrated. How does the whole AppStore policy make iOS more integrated?

When I am criticizing Apple for iOS not being open I mean it is not open to run any application that works on the device.

The Problem with iOS is that only Apple-Signed applications are allowed. Because of that, Apple has the power to keep the competition and the content they do not approve of out.

Their previous argument—"yes, it's open, but it sucks"—was less effective than this. It also said pretty much the same thing.

We think the open versus closed argument is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue, which is, “What’s best for the customer – fragmented versus integrated?”

Sounds awfully familiar. Didn't they learn anything from the desktop wars in the 90's?

George Lakoff's class, "The Mind, Language, and Politics" (Cognitive Science C104) was my absolute favorite class at UC Berkeley. We read plenty of his work and Frank Luntz. I'm glad to see these ideas again!

Say what you may about Jobs, but you have to admire how he plays the game.

I would prefer that he let his products do the talking - which they do. That's what makes all of this even stranger.

They stole my comment from earlier today: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1807530

Jobs begs the question: Are the users actually the system integrators?

What does that even mean anyway?

Exactly. And what does fragmented and integrated mean in the context of a consumer? I've heard fragmented as far as developers go but consumers just get a device and normally keep it for at least 2 years. How is fragmentation hurting them and what integration is it that they're doing?

The fragmentation problem for users is that they must be conscious of the deviations of the particular handset/carrier/version/store fragment they are buying in to or potentially suffer the consequences of their ignorance.

That is, the Android phone you buy may be a very different experience than the Android phone I buy, and that creates a lot of opportunity for dissatisfaction internal to the platform which simply would not be there with a strong first-party stance on how things ought to be done.

One way this 'fragmentation' can hurt users is by removing some developer's incentive to build on the platform.

I believe that is what the Tweetdeck quote was about, anyway.

Except it wasn't a real quote. @iaindodsworth (TweetDeck's CEO) wrote today it wasn't: http://twitter.com/#!/iaindodsworth/statuses/27813412620

I think he means that it is up to the users to decide how to sync their android device with whatever future devices they'll own. With the iPhone, you'll just buy the next generation device and your settings will easily migrate over. With android, you might switch from droid to htc desire and it will be up to you to migrate your data & settings. With fragmentation it makes this harder simply because carriers can prevent OTA updates and force stuff like the sense ui on their customers.

Debating 101: Frame the argument.

Both sides of any argument do this. Google by calling it "open" which means more than it really does. Apple doesn't debate it's not open, it just debates that the results aren't any good because of the confusion of choices. "Open" is supposed to be a good thing, Apple doesn't believe it is.

But the fact is that Apple is crying about it, they're explaining why they made the decisions they made. They need to justify this to their investors. Google needs PR to make Android look good.

That's why people are "Pro Life" not anti-abortion. Do these guys read the news, maybe they just started?

>That's why people are "Pro Life" not anti-abortion.

That's a pretty touchy example. Honestly, I've always thought that "pro-choice" was stretching the truth more than "pro-life".

If you want to see where "pro-life" may be stretching the truth, consider that not all "pro-life"-ers are vegans. When they say "pro-life", they're trying to imply that embryos are people, which is really the crux of the debate.

Well, many/most pro-lifers aren't pro-life anymore when it comes to the death penalty, or gun-control, or what have you. Then the sanctity of life isn't that uncompromisingly important, anymore.

I'm actually okay with "pro-life" as shorthand for "pro-sentient life". I think that's obviously implied - the debate isn't about whether cows should be able to get abortions.

But whether an embryo is sentient or if its life has more value than that of a dog or cow is a debatable point for people who don't derive their opinions from their dogma. If you take "pro-life" to be short for "pro- sentient life", then you've shifted focus away from the issue over to what's pretty much a tautology.

I agree with you that an embryo isn't sentient - however, they believe it is, or at least that it has a "soul" (which, in their minds, is the same thing). Their position is that wrong to kill something with a soul. You can (and should) be scientific about whether or not an embryo meets that qualification, but that's a question of their poor science, not their motive nor the position they think they're arguing...which I do think is reasonably accurately captured by "pro-life".

"pro embryo life" doesnt have the same ring to it

And neither does "pro abortion choice". Basically everyone involved prefers oversimplification to accuracy, which is one of the top two reasons why the "debate" can't go anywhere.

It certainly wouldn't be accurate to call most people on that side of the debate "pro-abortion." A lot of them don't like abortion for various reasons, but believe it's the woman's choice. I agree that "pro-choice" is loaded, but it's less euphemistic than "pro-life," which really does just mean "anti-abortion."

>It certainly wouldn't be accurate to call most people on that side of the debate "pro-abortion." A lot of them don't like abortion for various reasons, but believe it's the woman's choice.

Well, it's a legal debate. The argument is about the legal issue shorthanded as "abortion", no? In which case I can understand why someone would call "pro-choice" the pro-abortion side.

Well, to my mind, it's about the distinction between prohibited, permissible, and mandatory. To my mind 'pro-abortion' implies mandatory, forced abortion; 'pro-life' and 'anti-abortion' both seem reasonable terms for making carrying to term mandatory; and 'pro-choice' is about it being a choice.

I'd be perfectly happy calling both 'pro-life' and 'pro-abortion' (if they exist?) both 'anti-choice'.

You could as well charcterize it a social-issues debate and therefore claim that the "pro-life" side is more accurately pro-coat-hangers-and-septic-wards.

Exactly. An old, old technique. Do people still study rhetoric in school, grumble grumble?

How about "integrating" a phone that works into your phone.

There's a term for the kind of rephrasing used by Apple: "fear, uncertainty, and doubt"

There's another term: "propaganda"

I could probably rephrase the matter endlessly if I really wanted to.

How about Jobs misinterpreting a blog-post bij the makers of TweetDeck, by using it as an example of how terribly difficult it is for developers to write for the 'fragmented' android platform.

Just a little later the CEO of TweetDeck (@iaindodsworth) tweets this: "Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn't. It wasn't."

Help me out, is this a typical case of 'FUD'?

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