Tag Archives: open-source

Apple’s Strategy: The Good and Bad

The four major issues with Apple’s cur­rent product line and strategy that are “stifling the industry, con­sumer choice and pri­cing”, accord­ing to Jason Calacanis:

  1. Des­troy­ing MP3 play­er innov­a­tion through anti-com­pet­it­ive prac­tices.
  2. Mono­pol­ist­ic prac­tices in tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions.
  3. Dra­coni­an App Store policies.
  4. Want­ing to own almost every exten­sion of the iPhone plat­form.

It’s tough to dis­agree with these points (or Jason’s reas­on­ing) but a typ­ic­al response could be:

The restric­tions Apple places on its products are neces­sary to ensure the qual­ity of the user exper­i­ence, that Apple deserves to be paid for the innov­a­tions it has brought to the mar­ket­place and the con­sumer free­dom it has enabled to use things like the mobile inter­net, to make online music easy and fun to use etc.

Both of the above art­icles are anti-Apple (or at least anti-Apple strategy) and I agree with them both—but my stance is def­in­itely that of pro-Apple (a recent devel­op­ment since own­ing an iPhone, swiftly fol­lowed by a Hack­in­tosh).

The ROI I get with Apple products is pos­it­ive des­pite these issues and as such I’m will­ing to pay a premi­um. This isn’t a fin­an­cial ROI, but a time/enjoyment ROI. For an idea of what I mean, this short tirade against open source usab­il­ity from an art­icle look­ing at how to com­pete with open source soft­ware (via @zambonini) may help:

At a salar­ied job mak­ing $80k plus bene­fits your time is worth around $55/hour. […] And thus it is with the major­ity of open source soft­ware:

Open source soft­ware is free if your time is worth noth­ing.

[…] I’ve used main­stream image edit­ors like Pho­toshop, Paint.NET and Gimp; some of my best friends are main­stream image edit­ors. And when I saw Gimp I almost went blind. Chil­dren were weep­ing; fruit was bruis­ing. The UI could kill small anim­als.

Are there excep­tions in the open source world? Abso­lutely.

When an open source pro­ject gets enough tal­en­ted people work­ing on it, it can become a down­right mas­ter­piece.

In UI and UX terms the major­ity of open source applic­a­tions are behind or on par with PC-based soft­ware. These are then both behind Mac-only applic­a­tions. There are excep­tions, of course, but they’re exactly that—exceptions.

Gran­ted; there are unne­ces­sary and debil­it­at­ing restric­tions on Apple products, and when these restric­tions make product use cum­ber­some I’ll switch in a heart­beat. But it seems that these restric­tions are part of a lar­ger strategy: to build the best user exper­i­ence.

This, from a Tech­Crunch art­icle look­ing at Apple’s strategy:

“Our goal is not to build the most com­puters. It’s to build the best.”

That was Apple COO Tim Cook two days ago dur­ing Apple’s quarterly earn­ings call. Sure, it may sound like spin from an exec­ut­ive who does­n’t have a bet­ter answer as to why Apple isn’t com­pet­ing in the low-end of the mar­ket, and thus, gain­ing mar­ket share. But it’s not.

You need look no fur­ther than num­bers released today by NPD to under­stand Apple’s strategy. Its rev­en­ue share of the “premi­um” price mar­ket — that is, com­puters over $1,000 — is a stag­ger­ing 91%.

Open Source Software as Self Service

“Open source soft­ware devel­op­ment is the ulti­mate self-ser­vice industry”, says Jeff Atwood in an art­icle look­ing at pos­sible reas­ons for the OpenOffice.org pro­ject’s dwind­ling devel­op­ment com­munity. How­ever, it’s Atwood’s thoughts on self ser­vice super­mar­ket check­outs that I found most inter­est­ing:

What fas­cin­ates me about self-ser­vice check­out devices is that the store is mak­ing you do work they would nor­mally pay their employ­ees to do. Think about this for a minute. You’re play­ing the role of the pay­ing cus­tom­er and the cash­ier employ­ee. Under the watch­ful eyes of secur­ity cam­er­as and at least one human mon­it­or, nat­ur­ally, but still. We con­tin­ue to check ourselves out. Not only will­ingly, but enthu­si­ast­ic­ally. For that one brief moment, we’re work­ing for the super­mar­ket at the low­est pos­sible pay scale: none.

That’s the para­dox of self-check­out. But to me it’s no riddle at all: nobody else in that store cares about get­ting Jeff Atwood checked out nearly as much as Jeff Atwood does.

On the top­ic of open source devel­op­ment com­munit­ies, I also found this quote to be quite poignant:

If you’re hav­ing dif­fi­culty get­ting soft­ware developers to par­ti­cip­ate in your open source pro­ject, I’d say the com­munity isn’t fail­ing your pro­ject. Your pro­ject is fail­ing the com­munity.