People love to complain about how Microsoft is too proprietary, and rightfully so. Linux/FreeBSD users can make that claim freely but when Apple users make it I cringe. Microsoft has done some “bad” things with API’s and interoperability and is a worse offender than Apple, however, Apple is by no means a saint of openness and isn’t shy about locking users in to their equally proprietary products and services. Here are just a couple of examples that come to mind:
1. I can run Windows on just about any PC hardware whereas I can only run OSX on Apple hardware and they intentionally make it so that I can’t run it on a regular PC without hacking the OS. Is this evil? Not necessarily, they are a business after all. Does it make their OS proprietary? Absolutely!
2. Not only do you have to buy their hardware to run OS X, you also have to pay for OS upgrades just like Microsoft.
3. My MacBook Pro has something called an ExpressCard/34 slot (which as I’ve learned is the latest PCMCIA standard). Regardless it is about as useful to me (with all of my older PCMCIA cards) as an old toenail clipping. That’s more of an aside gripe though and doesn’t make them proprietary so moving on…
4. While people have emulated the .Mac service to make it work with their own servers, Apple tries to lock users in with their .Mac subscription services.
5. iTunes music store and iPod lock-in: if you want to use the iTunes music store and then listen to the music on the go there’s only one MP3 player you can use.
If Apple is really going to stand above Microsoft then in my opinion they need to allow you to run OS X on any PC hardware and have people choose to run it on Apple hardware because it’s the best, not because they have to. They would also need to allow other vendors to hook their MP3 players in with the iTunes music store instead of their current monopolistic approach.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Apple hardware, software, and related products, they are some of the best on the market. However, I’m under no illusion that just like Microsoft, they are in business to make money, and they too resort to Redmond like lock-in tactics. So before you put an Apple sticker on your bumper, ask yourself if it’s really Apple the company that you so adore and want to express your support of, or if it’s just that it’s cool and cutting edge again to be a Mac user?
Now a Linux, FreeBSD, or OpenBSD bumper sticker is something I can get behind, but an Apple or Microsoft bumber sticker? No thanks!