Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I know a prison when I see it. Paying carriers a little more than if they had been turned into dumb pipes is not prison. Having my content restricted to Apple's disneyfied subset of the world is as close as any prison metaphor gets to the real thing.

Oh please, let's not get out of hand.

If Apple is a prison it's the most liberal open prison in the history of the justice system. It may be constrained but it's hardly four to a cell and making sure you don't drop the soap in the showers.

I guess you're also unhappy about the "jailbreaking" metaphor then, or about "opiate for the masses".

I was just responding to this phrase from the article: "But I cannot respect their decision to continue to work on this platform that perpetuates our imprisonment"

To be honest (and this isn't aimed at you), I'm just bored of tediously overstated metaphor across the board when it comes to the Googe / Apple discussions. I think it does nothing for useful debate and just flames the tribalism and I think that there are genuinely interesting things to discuss that are being obscured.

That and wanting to make the soap in the showers gag.

But as I say, not specifically aimed at you, I'm just getting increasingly anti-metaphor in what should be factual discussions between technical people.

I can see where you're coming from, but meta discussions about the use of metaphors aren't going help. As I see it, you have obscured my actual point by starting a debate about the wording.

Apple's narrow minded content restrictions are a real and serious limitation of what I can do professionally as a developer. Carriers overcharging for some services is not, so the choice is very clear to me and it's the choice between less freedom and more freedom.

I do not insist on using the "prison" metaphor for that and I didn't invent it either. I merely responded to someone who did use it and he even criticised people for continuing to work on Android. If that is not over the top I don't know what is.

I disagree. If people are using unhelpful metaphors it's worth pulling them up on. As I say, it's not specifically you (and I perpetuated the metaphor too so am similarly guilty).

In terms of obscuring your point, what I'm saying is that I don't understand your point precisely because you've compared prison to two things neither of which, to me at least, are remotely like prison.

I do agree with you that I don't think the way in which he describes certain models of carrier as like prison is accurate, but I don't understand how it really applies to the iPhone. Apple places a small number of restrictions on one very specific element of your life (your smart phone). Prison is a very poor metaphor for that unless there's something I'm missing.

Personally I've been an iPhone user for three years now and I've never felt remotely "imprisoned" (and in the pro-Google camp I've been a G-mail user for 10 years and have never felt like a "product" and believe that metaphor to be equally faulty).

We could go looking for better metaphors obviously or we could frame the debate in terms of straight forward facts that smart, technically aware people can understand and avoid either the lack of clarity or the incendiary comments.

I think you do understand my point better than you care to admit. Here's me, there's my customer and smack in the middle is Apple in a position to veto everything I sell to my customers and kick me off the platform whenever they want without even owing me an explanation.

Depending on this kind of all powerful middleman is not just "a small number of restrictions on one very specific element of your life". The element of my life we're talking about is my professional and financial existence. Or rather it would be if I built my startup on top of iOS or a similar platform like Facebook.

The impact of this kind of dependency on small software companies can hardly be overstated.

OK, so the first thing is I assumed you were speaking as a consumer, not as a developer. As a consumer I have a choice to sell my iPhone and buy something else if I don't like it. That's a massive freedom that Apple can't constrain. It's probably the single biggest issue with the lock in argument - the fact that you can walk away at any time (even in contract - an iPhone will almost certainly have a higher resale value that a decent Android phone so sell the iPhone, buy a non-Apple replacement and stick the SIM in it).

Speaking as a developer you have similar freedom - you can choose to develop for another platform. Apple are up front about their policies, certainly now that they've stabilised. Yes they've messed a few people about (and that sucks, I accept) but a vast, vast majority of people writing software for iOS are able to do so with no real fear. Yes Apple might stick whatever functionality your app has into iOS but Google might do that with Android, MS with Windows and so on.

And it's not all negative - they provide a very simple distribution channel to a massive market of proven, paying customers and cover off billing, payment and a whole load of other things.

There are many businesses that have a dependency on a middleman (which is what Apple are) but they accept that dependency because on balance the opportunity outweighs the downside.

But even if you take away the other positive stuff there and only look at the negatives, that choice, essentially the ability to ignore them completely and do something else, is what stops it being remotely like a prison, because the one thing that you can't do with a prison is just walk away from it.

As a developer, I cannot easily ignore one of the most widely used platforms. Their policies are not upfront at all. They are not even published for everyone to see. They are vague and open ended.

Apple is known for kicking people out simply for competing with Apple itself or its selected partners. They also throw out apps simply because someone makes a copyright infringement claim, regardless of merit. You cannot know if these things will happen to you. It's outside of your control, even if you stick slavishly to the rules.

I do appreciate the positives, otherwise I wouldn't bother to argue about this in the first place. But these positives are not predicated on mandating the App Store as the exclusive distribution channel.

As a consumer, it's not that big a deal for me, but it is regrettable that I cannot use Apple's mobile devices as I am a Mac and iPod user. I just can't have some device maker censor the content I put on _my_ device.

I get all that, my argument is not that Apple are right, just that the commonly used metaphor, as well as being inflammatory, isn't really an accurate reflection of the real situation.

You say as a developer you can't easily ignore one of the most widely used platforms but I've made a very good living as a developer for 20 years without writing a single line of code for iOS as I'd venture have most developers in the world. If I don't like iOS as a developer platform I can write for Windows, or Linux, or Windows Mobile or Windows Phone or Android, or Unix or Symbian or any other of the multitude of platforms.

What you're saying is that you really want access to that market because it's interesting and potentially lucrative but don't like the restrictions.

That's fine but it's not some unavoidable choice, it's just a decision that has to be made. You've decided no and that's great, I respect that, but I don't think it should be made out to be more than it is.

I'm concerned about Apple's success attracting copycats (like Microsoft) who may think that being as nasty as Apple is somehow a prerequisite for success.

It could also attract lawmakers' interest, as tight control over client devices provides a possible angle for law enforcement in democratic and not so democratic countries alike.

At the end of the day, what Apple's model means, if it becomes standard, is the greatest possible loss of freedom for developers and users alike. That's what prison stands for when used as a metaphor.

But I certainly hope that my fears are overblown and you turn out to be right that it's not such a big deal.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact