Monday, April 07, 2008

Apple Brainwashing puzzle

I write software for a living. As a result a lot of my favorite software developers at work and in my communities (e.g. Tapestry, Grails, NetBeans) are Mac users. On one hand, I accept the fact that, hey, they like their Mac, just as much as I am passionate and like my NetBeans for example. However, there are a couple of things that I haven't been able to grasp yet.

All of the people I'm talking about are very smart and very independent. Yet, at the same time, Apple has managed to run some kind of brainwashing trick, where anything Apple comes up with and anything Apple says is taken at face value. Here are a couple of glaring examples:

  • A year or however long time ago, Apple decides to do their iPhone thing. Great, nice device, cool glitzy graphics, all that. All of a sudden, everyone from a large number of my coworkers to the people on the Oscars buys an iPhone. That is all well, but the more puzzling part is how most people just swallow the garbage coming from Apple without questioning it. For example, I bet that 90% of the iPhone users still think that iPhone was the first device that had a full blown browser that doesn't need the content to be specifically formatted for mobile devices ( while I've been happily browsing on my Nokia E61 for 1-2 years before the iPhone came out, mind you with the E61 happily running a KHTML derived browser, the same browser that Safari extends as well).
  • Apple decides to release their SDK and to allow 3rd party Devs to distribute their apps for iTunes. That is all great, nice thinking, good way to screw the walled garden of the network operators (ironically, by creating a new walled garden, this time controlled by Apple). So, all of a sudden, everyone believes ( I spoke to a very smart coworker of mine, listened to the Java Posse) that this is the first attempt where a non-operator sets up a distribution mechanism where 3rd party devs can certify and distribute their apps. Rewind to 2-3 years before the iPhone SDK launch, and I was happily exploring the Nokia Catalogs (on my phone) that has a whole bunch of free and commercial applications for download (that have nothing to do with the operator, the same "independent" software distribution channel that Apple claims to have invented).

The list can go on and on. What really puzzles me is that Apple can throw these outrageously false claims, and all of these smart and independently thinking people that I know just eat it up, without questioning it for a second. What drove me over the edge was when I was listening to a Java Posse interview where they were discussing the release of the iPhone SDK and how Apple supposedly "owned" the device and that Apple was within their right to lock the device as much as they want and go to great lengths to restrict what kind of software could be on it (e.g. starting from the "locked" phones, going through the clauses in the iPhone dev kit that prohibits its usage for creation of VMs, including Java). That is the biggest steaming pile of BS that I've heard . Yeah, I know that when you get the software you don't actually "own" it, you license it, but I can't believe my ears : if I had spent $400-$500 on a device you better believe it that I will want to have as much control over it, I OWN the goddamn thing. Now, if it was someone other than Apple (e.g. think Microsoft), all of these smart people would be up in arms calling for boycotts of the device and the company and who knows what else. But when it's Apple, people just suck it up.

So, people, let get our senses back and start thinking a little bit more critically about the garbage that comes out of Apple's brainwashing machine. I know they make nice products and all, but let's not lose our senses every time they say something and examine it for what it really is : a company pushing their products and very selfishly looking out for its own interests.