Friday, October 22, 2010

The Walled Apple Garden

Apple has long exerted total control over the IPhone. Now it is expanding this trend to its Mac line of computers.

First the is the app store for the Mac. Potentially, a few releases in the future, you will get all of your programs and much of your web content from apps with Apple getting a cut and selecting what is allowed through arbitrary standard.

The new Macbook Air shows several interesting developments. It does not have an optical drive. This is in keeping with Steve Jobs's belief that the only proper way of getting content into your computer is through his store. An optical drive lets you rip tunes from the CD you already bought or play the movie you just got in the mail from Netflix. Apple doesn't get a cut of either of those. Granted, you can use the USB port to add a separate optical drive but Apple has made it clear that they will never support Blu-ray.

Just to cover all bases, you can't change the hardware, either. They use proprietary screws to keep you out and proprietary memory to keep you from doing your own upgrades.

None of this is surprising. When the Mac was introduced in 1984, it violated your warranty to connect it to a peripheral made by anyone else. Apple did not offer a hard drive so for the first year, customers had to choose between violating the warranty or living with a single floppy drive.

It looks like those days are returning.

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