Saturday, September 08, 2007

Apple, the bully

From PC World - written by Mike Elgan
Friday, September 7, 2007

Is Apple the new Microsoft?

Don't look now, but the role of the industry's biggest bully is increasingly played by Apple, not Microsoft.

Ten years ago, Microsoft was the company everyone loved to hate.

The most vociferous Microsoft haters slammed the company for being a greedy industry bully that used its monopolistic, clunky, copycat operating system to force software on users and coerce partners into unfair licensing deals.

Don't look now, but the role of the industry's biggest bully is increasingly played by Apple, not Microsoft. Here's a look at how Apple has shoved Microsoft aside as the company with the worst reputation as a monopolist, copycat and a bully.

Apple the monopolist

The core complaint about Microsoft in the 1990s was that its Windows market share gave it monopoly power, which it abused in multiple ways. Attorneys General and others zeroed in on the "bundling" of the Internet Explorer Web browser, which they claimed was forced on users because Microsoft offered it as part of Windows.

People love iPods (including me; my family of four has purchased 12 iPods in the past few years). But iPods come bundled with iTunes. Want to buy music from Apple? Guess what? You must install iTunes. Want an Apple cell phone from AT&T? Yep! ITunes is required even if you want only to make phone calls. Want to buy ringtones for your Apple phone? ITunes.

Apple not only "bundles" iTunes with multiple products, it forces you to use it. At least with Internet Explorer, you could always just download a competitor and ignore IE. [...]

And "bundling" works. Steve Jobs bragged this week that Apple has distributed 600 million copies of iTunes to date. The overwhelming majority of those copies were iTunes for Windows. And iTunes for Windows' popularity isn't driven by software product quality. ITunes is the slowest, clunkiest, most nonintuitive application on my system. But I need it because I love my iPods. (more)

- Read the whole story: PC WORLD - Is Apple the new Microsoft?


Alberta Report said...

Itunes is the supporting software for the hardware produced by apple. You liken it to internet explorer, however either you are too young to remember, or not technically knowledgable enough to understand the difference between "bundling" software, and integrating your browser directly into the operating system such that it cannot be removed, which is what Microsoft has done. Since the antitrust lawsuits have ended, Microsoft has continued down this road. In addition, they have also heavily integrated their inferior and non-standards compliant office suite into its server products and has quietly been changing other products such as vista so they become difficult to manage with competing technologies.

I would agree with you that Apple is now flexing more of its muscle, however it pales terribly in comparison to Microsoft, or even other former rivals like Novell. Apple does make a good product, solid and usable software. Microsoft has its merits as well but is far more unwilling to follow standards that open technology up for everyone. I am, by the way, both a PC and a Mac user and have been since my first MacII and XT boxes.

Erik Abbink said...

Hi Alberta,

First off, this article was written by Mike Elgan from PC World, not by me. I've added his name to the top of the post now.

I do endorse the "spirit" of the post, that's why I put some of it up on my site. And the spirit of the post is that Apple is working hard to become the next Microsoft.

Yes, Apple "make[s] a good product, solid and usable software", but so does Microsoft. Yes, Apple's not half as bad as Microsoft (I do see them as inventors of the embrace, extend and extinguish tactics), but Apple is onto the same path.

"Bundling", "unwilling to follow standards", they're both symptoms of the same practices; shutting healthy competition out.

Fortunately, the future is wide and open.

Except from the OS, I've stopped using many (if not all) Microsoft programs on my computers. I use OpenOffice for text and database, Firefox and Thunderbird for the web, LAMP on my servers, MoinMoin for collaborative projects (and their Desktop version for personal use; recommended), and so on.

I never bought into the Apple-mania, and given the abundance of open-source software (=real choice) currently out there, I don't think I ever will either.

Go ahead, my latte sipping friends, go buy that sexy, but severely overpriced new laptop or desktop. Go ahead, fall for Apple's "designer" iphone or ipod.
And sure, feel good about it, if that makes you happy.

You'll have my blessings.

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