Apple’s proprietary software as a bell and whistle for a Veblen good. Speaking of that, iPad 3 will be coming out soon! ZOMG!!
Posts Tagged ‘apple’
Software idea patents have been tying developer hands for years now. As time goes on, the harm these patents bring to the industry is bubbling to the surface. Big technology corporations are suing left, right, and center. Popular consumer products are finding themselves sidelined in some countries and threatened to be sidelined in others. Of course, companies like Apple and Microsoft tell a contemporary tale of a need to “protect” their “intellectual property” and portray themselves as victims of those who “steal” their ideas. Yes, they’re quick to justify the circus these days, but Bill Gates knew back in 1991 that we were headed toward a market that’s a far cry from Pareto-optimal:
If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.
Countries around the world should declare software as lacking the requisites for patentability.
Jobs had two stated reasons for the shift. He said Flash was a crash-prone resource hog and that it wasn’t an open standard. To a large extent, the first point is a consequence of the second. Because Flash is proprietary software developed by Adobe, third parties like Apple don’t have access to the source code or permission to change it. That means they can’t fix bugs or to optimize the code for particular devices. They have to rely on Adobe to do these things in a timely manner.
His Holiness Steve Jobs wants access and permission but doesn’t want his customers to have it. Despite the FUD, there isn’t a benefit beyond Apple’s bottom line in denying users this freedom. Communities are more than capable of protecting themselves from software vulnerabilities and can build stable systems; our track record speaks for itself. Jobs can’t claim otherwise, given that key parts of Apple’s software spring from software freedom.
Both Apple and Microsoft have blocked the distribution of copylefted Free Software through their App Store and Windows Phone Marketplace respectively. Though there’s no indication or reason to believe this might happen with Google’s Android Market, I wrote their Open Source Programs Manager, Chris DiBona, asking him about the possibility. He replied:
No, we have no plans to restrict copyleft based programs. When we were creating our application market for android, we wanted to make sure that developers could offer programs that contained open source and free software. (email: 2/20/11)
Google’s inclusive approach to licensing will only help make their market more appealing to developers and users alike.
If you’re unfortunate enough to be a Facecrack user, you can check out more at the VLC Media Player’s page.
To be fair, though he stereotypes all VLC users as “Open Source” users, he’s got an historically accurate point. The Open Source movement was started as a break from the Free software movement. A break that differentiated itself by placing an emphasis on software development models rather than end-user freedom. Some Open Source supporters don’t know this though, and were actually drawn to the ethical and socially optimal reasons that many Open Source adherents agree with despite the movement’s foundational, ethics-free rhetoric.
The fact remains however, that abiding by copyleft would not restrict Apple in any meaningful way. They have chosen not to respect the obligations set forth in the license. User anger should be directed toward Apple, not licensors who wish to uphold the terms of the license. It is good reason to boycott Apple or at the very least, Apple’s App Store. All Apple needs to do is change their policy so as not to discriminate against some licenses. Upholding the intent of copyleft does not make one an asshole and Apple doesn’t deserve sympathy or deflected criticism.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has followed up on the news that VLC may be pulled from Apple’s App Store. The title of his article is misleading and should be noted. It says:
GPLv2 blocks VLC from Apple’s App Store
but it should read something like:
Apple blocks VLC from their App Store
The blame here could be misconstrued by readers and thus, misplaced. There is nothing in the GPL that restricts software from being distributed through Apple’s (or anyone’s) app store. If Apple doesn’t want to accept the obligations of the GPL, then they’re the one’s responsible. Apple isn’t just blocking VLC, they’re blocking copyleft altogether.
Ultimately it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done – and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing. Picasso had a saying. He said, ‘good artists copy, great artists steal’ and we had always been shameless about stealing great ideas.
We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.
This entire article on FOSS advocacy and Apple is a worthwhile read. In it, Bruce Byfield included some thoughts on hating Microsoft:
Microsoft is the company that everybody loves to hate. These days, you don’t even need to be a geek to express your hate. Tell an anti-Microsoft joke in the average business or college crowd, and you are guaranteed a laugh. Tell a joke against Apple, though, and surprised silence will struggle with strained smiles in your audience.
While Microsoft certainly deserves the critical eye it often receives, when it comes to “hate”, this is my take:
If you desire a better society, use a free system. If you simply hate Microsoft, use Mac OS.