It’s disappointing to see one of the giants of the computer industry resorting to trash-talk when it’s transparently obvious he’s trying to make a few dollars by spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). I’m talking about what I blogged about several days ago, where I stuck my neck out and stated that Apple’s iPad is destined to failure. The situation took a turn for the worse a few days ago when Steve Jobs – Apple’s visionary leader – resorted to trash-talking Adobe Flash while in a closed door meeting with several Wall Street executives.
To be more specific, Jobs referred to Flash as a dying technology, and Apple doesn’t invest in dying technologies. I cannot attribute a direct quote because the Wall Street meeting was not recorded, but several witnesses corroborated on what Jobs reportedly said.
Though in a business sense, it is understandable why Jobs said these terrible things about Adobe Flash, it is disappointing nevertheless because it simply is not the full truth. Of course, I don’t pretend to have a monopoly on the truth, but as a significant user of Apple’s iTunes software, I have some cynical insight.
Here’s what my insight tells me: Apple has been able to make a lot of money from their iTunes software, because it puts music and video in the hands of anyone willing to become a member. Personally, I estimate that I’ve spent over 200 dollars on this service, and as far as I’m concerned, I got my money’s worth. I’ve watched many interesting TV shows and listened to lots of music and podcasts over the years, and though I’m not a big fan of the way Apple enforces copyrights on the digital material using DRM (Digital Rights Management), I’ve been willing to tolerate it until something better came along.
And something better did indeed come along. I can now buy digital music from Amazon for the same price as iTunes, and I don’t have to mess with DRM. I can also watch TV shows by tuning into Hulu. My son and I both watch YouTube and can enjoy just about any video any time. None of this technology has to go through iTunes, and none of it is subject to DRM. What’s worse, the video stuff all runs on Adobe Flash, as does 75% of all web-based videos these days.
And Apple is not getting a piece of that action. Nada. They did well with iTunes, but those days are coming to an end.
But wait! If Apple comes out with a sexy tablet-sized piece of hardware that cannot run Flash, maybe that’ll put some life back into iTunes! I can’t help thinking that Mr. Jobs is betting on it. If he manages to put an iPad into everyone’s hands, then he controls the market once again. Furthermore, by eliminating the ability to connect the iPad to an industry-standard USB interface or external drive, Jobs can successfully choke his customers on iTunes.
It’s difficult to see how the public will buy into this argument. In effect, by purchasing an iPad, one would essentially lock himself to whatever digital distribution model Apple comes up with. Steve Jobs is trying to make this alternative more palatable by trash-talking Adobe Flash. By doing so, he’s telling everyone that the iPad and iTunes has a superior technical solution and therefore customers shouldn’t feel so bad about being held captive by Apple. And Apple is good. You can trust them. Right? Right?
I’ll stick my neck out again and say that the iPad ought to adapt to an open model or die a painful death, similar to death of the technically superior TMS-99/4A as I cited in a previous blog. If Apple refuses to adapt, the iPad will survive until they either run out of cash or Steve Jobs runs out of ego, whichever comes first.
written by ellen, February 23, 2010
written by someone, May 01, 2010