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iPad For the Win?

April 2, 2010 21:55:16.865

Doc Searls thinks that more open mobile platforms, like Android or Symbian, will end up beating Apple in the new space being created by the iPad:

The iPad will launch a category within which it will be far from the only player. Apple's feudal market-control methods (all developers and customers are trapped within its walled garden) will encourage competitors that lack the same limitations. We should expect other hardware companies to launch pads running on open source operating systems, especially Android and Symbian. (Disclosure: I consult Symbian.) These can support much larger markets than Apple's closed and private platforms alone will allow.

I'm not so sure. Part of why the iPhone and Touch are doing so well is that they provide a consistent, simple user interface. No file system to mess with, not multiple stores - one stop shopping and your apps handle all of their own details for you. Google doesn't really look at the world that way; I seriously doubt that any device they ever sponsor will be as easy to use as what Apple is coming up with.

Arguably, Android's ecosystem is more open that Apple's, but thus far, that hasn't been enough - it would have to be at least as good an end to end system. Until another vendor in the mobile space beats the iTunes/mobile device combo, Apple will lead. That's not destiny; there are plenty of ways other vendors could do better (wifi synching, anyone?). It's just that they haven't done it yet - and the open source community really doesn't have much of a track record in the "easy to use UI" space.

Update: I disagree with Cory Doctorow for all the same reasons. Here's the thing - cars used to be accessible to owners as well, and now they pretty much require an expert to do anything under the hood. And people still buy cars. Consumer goods go through a lifecycle, and they eventually exit the "anyone can get under the hood" part of it.

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posted by James Robertson



[Troy Brumley] April 3, 2010 16:20:26.547

Computers and similar devices have started to really live up to the Apple motto of being "for the rest of us." What the technoscenti fail to recognize is that they aren't the "us" in this motto.

Oh, and as someone who might be grouped with the technoscenti, there are a lot of times when I don't want to open the hood. I've got an iPhone, I've got an MacBook Pro, and I don't really miss the bit fiddling when I'm using them.

When I want to waste time repairing something that shouldn't be broke, I just fire up windows.

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