As details from Steve Jobs’ soon-to-be released autobiography leak out, much is being made of the fact that he vowed to crush Google’s Android mobile initiative because he thought it was a blatant ripoff of Apple’s iPhone technology.
Because Apple and Google had formerly been partners; that may indeed have been true. At least, it appears that their association could have led to insider knowledge that influenced their product design. But now that Android has become the world’s leading smart phone operating system, and Jobs is dead –I’m wondering if anyone at Apple really going to pursue the fight?
The part of me that believes in fair play and respect for intellectual property rights is absolutely in agreement with Jobs ‘point of view. But the part of me that has (for the most part) steadfastly resisted the Apple siren call is a little bit happy that there is a way to play in that particular digital sandbox without having to live inside the closed system that makes Apple so successful at the expense of consumer choice.
Like practically everybody else on the planet, I admire the beauty and ease of use that most Apple products provide. But I really hate the fact that once you get tied into the Apple ecosystem, you are tethered to their products pretty much exclusively.
The fact that they make the software and the hardware it takes to use it makes a lot of sense, and also makes their products a whole lot safer to use than those made by the competition.
But on the other hand, their beautiful and useful products are just so damn expensive that as a consumer, you have to really weigh your options carefully before shelling out all that dough. Clearly, that’s the niche that Google found with their Android mobile operating system, and that’s what must have driven Steve Jobs completely nuts.
I mean, if you can find something that’s almost as cool as an iPhone, at a fraction of the price – why wouldn’t you buy it? Well, that’s a question that millions of people have answered with their wallets – obviously much too Steve Jobs’ chagrin– and quite possibly the basis of a really justified trade secrets infringement lawsuit.
In this time just after the death of Steve Jobs, pointing out that his company’s closed technology ecosystem is just another example of corporate greed is probably not politically correct. But honestly, even though he was arguably one of the most brilliant corporate executives of all time, does not mean he was some sort of an altruist whose every move was made for the common good.
He was in fact a brilliant corporate executive who presided over a company that has grown immeasurably rich by creating a closed ecosystem and technology that is so seductive that people are willing to pay ridiculously high prices to have it. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, but I am pointing out that there is crack in the Apple juice, and people who drink it are paying an awfully high price for their addiction. It’s a beautiful addiction to be sure – but addiction all the same.