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I think the article misses one of the fundamental reasons that mobile is a closed environment: fear. It seems we treat things we can put in our pocket as more personal and much different than the twilight zone we expect out of computers.

I am sure, at some point, a program uploaded the Outlook address book of some Fortune 500 sales manager to the internet without telling him/her. Any problem or security breach in the PC world is a 1-day story.

The same thing happens on a mobile platform (iPhone) and C-level executives are dragged in front of Congress. I gotta tell you, if its a choice between programmer's rights and being dragged in front of Congress because some startup didn't use proper hashing, I would, as a CEO, limit programmers. Pure, simple, and a smart decision for 99.9% of my customers. I will bet if Google has more executives "requested" at Congressional Hearings then side-loading will disappear.

The post-PC devices are going to be locked down in the name of security. There is no downside to executives. Some developers will put up with it because of the money just like they did in the pre-iPhone days of mobile deployment.

I hate this because I know if I'd been born 20 years later, I would not be a developer. High Schools are not teaching programming anymore and the computers I learned to program on (Atari 400, C64, TI 99/4A) have no modern replacements (sub $200 with development tools included / available cheap).

Someone wants to change all this? Then build a modern day Atari 800 / C64. Not OLPC, because you cannot just buy one of those. Something I can hook to the internet and an old TV (since now most families have bought the 2nd generation of HDMI devices). Something that lets me program it.




Then build a modern day Atari 800 / C64.

Isn't that what Raspberry Pi is? A very simple, understandable, eminently hackable computer?

That does make me wonder: if I could get 35-40 of them for my kids' high school, would they put them to use? Or would three be as valuable as 40, since only the kids who are like I was would care?


No, Raspberry Pi is a board. You don't hand people a motherboard and expect them to learn to program.


Ctrl-Shift-C in Chrome, or Ctrl-Shift-J in Firefox, will give you a programmable computing environment more powerful and expressive than a 20-year old Atari, Commodore, or Apple.


Which means I have to have a computer already which is not < $200. Also, I really doubt I can use Firefox or Chrome to hook up some photocells to the machine and take readings or use the photocells as a musical instrument.


> I think the article misses one of the fundamental reasons that mobile is a closed environment: fear. It seems we treat things we can put in our pocket as more personal and much different than the twilight zone we expect out of computers.

Mobile is closed because Apple is closed, were wildly successful when they entered the market, and everyone else followed suit. There success wasn't due to the closed nature, but as is always the case, it became the standard way of doing things.


Mobile is closed because the network providers are terrified of letting devices that they cannot control on their network.


There are more than one layer of closed, and you're right, that layer has always been closed, but from the software side it's a new phenomenon. Pocket PCs and Palms did not share the modern security model. Apple gave us that.


If the phone OS originated on a PDA, it wasn't locked on the phone version, but for all the other phones, it was a serious PITA to get software out there. Remember BREW and the costs to deploy / get approved (that was the easy one).

Apple didn't give up that. Apple followed the non-PDA path.


Apple has also repeatedly said that iOS upgrades have been delayed because of carrier review. Same for Google Nexus updates. We all know the disaster that has been 3rd party Android updates because of vendor and carrier review.


In addition to that, mobile is closed because hardware manufacturers, software companies and network providers all seem to agree that the combination of mandated personalization and permanent tracking is a potential gold mine.


Remember though that there are no carriers in the world that only permit phones as locked down as the iPhone.


After taking inflation into consideration you can buy yourself a cheap laptop for the equivalent of the $200, install a Linux distro on it and you have a workable dev environment.

You can even go on lowendbox.com and get yourself some cheap hosting to share your creations with the entire planet.




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