Darel Rex Finley in 888

The Meaning of Kicking Ass

2010.01.14   prev     next

TIME to talk about Google’s Jonathan Rosenberg’s “The Meaning of Open”:

At Google we believe that open systems win.

Except all of Google’s closed, private technologies, of course. They’ve been winning for a long time now without being open, and they’re going to keep on doing just that. Funny how “open” wasn’t a priority when Google was building its search business, Gmail, Google Maps, etc. But now that Google is trying to compete against the iPhone, and needs some way to differentiate itself, “open” is not only a good thing, but practically a guaranteed “win.” (And something Apple ought to be doing, of course!)

They lead to more innovation, value, and freedom of choice for consumers...

Unless the consumer’s system of preference happens not to be “open.” Open systems don’t help the consumer to make that choice.

[Closed systems] can also deliver well-designed products in the short run — the iPod and iPhone being the obvious examples — but eventually innovation in a closed system tends towards being incremental at best (is a four blade razor really that much better than a three blade one?) because the whole point is to preserve the status quo. Complacency is the hallmark of any closed system. If you don’t have to work that hard to keep your customers, you won’t.

Yeah, once Apple’s designers had the market-dominating iPod, they didn’t have to work hard to create the iPhone — it just fell out of their butt. And now that the iPhone is the pre-emininent smartphone, I’m sure the folks at Apple aren’t working hard to create some new product (like maybe some tablet thing?).

And say — I’m just wondering: If you don’t have to work hard to keep your customers because they’re locked in, then how can they switch to the competition’s “open” system? How will the “open” system benefit them if they’re locked into the closed system and can’t switch? And if they do switch to the “open” system because it’s better, then they weren’t “locked in” — were they??

Open systems are just the opposite. They are competitive and far more dynamic.

What does dynamic mean — unpredictable? And there’s nothing very competitive about the iPhone, I suppose.

In an open system, a competitive advantage doesn’t derive from locking in customers, but rather from understanding the fast-moving system better than anyone else and using that knowledge to generate better, more innovative products.

Lemme get this straight: If you give away your system to your competitors for free, but you just happen to know how to make products with it better than they do, then you’ll still prevail in the market. Until you give away that stuff for free too... Then you’ll have to make something else again. And give it away too? Um, when does this strategy pay off, exactly? Oh yeah, when you stop giving away your stuff. When you become “closed.” When you become a bad guy.

Open systems have the potential to spawn industries.

Apple didn’t spawn a huge mobile software market with their “closed” iPhone App Store, did they? It sure looks like they did. But they really didn’t. Only “open” systems really count.

They harness the intellect of the general population and spur businesses to compete, innovate, and win based on the merits of their products ...

Exactly! The App Store is doing just that! Oops — I forgot. Doesn’t count. It’s “closed.” Bad. Wrong.

[I]n the mid-1990s private firms were discovering and patenting large amounts of DNA sequence data and then assuming control over who could access that information and at what price. Having so much of the genome under private ownership raised costs and made drug discovery far less efficient. ...

Which humans spent enormous amounts of time, effort, and personal risk writing all the code in the DNA? Oh yeah, none of them. If you spend a lot of time creating something, you kind-of need to get some return on that. People don’t work for free.

Apple’s already had a huge taste of giving the fruits of their labors up to the world for free, when Microsoft ripped off the Mac and called it “Windows.” What do you want Apple to do — voluntarily recreate the same scenario again? Maybe Apple’s creativity has been free for long enough. We all saw what Microsoft was able to do with it. (Retcchh.) It’s about time Apple started reaping the rewards of their efforts for a change, and being able to invest those earnings back into more projects. The iPod’s success fuels development of the iPhone, the iPhone fuels development of the unannounced tablet thing, etc. Hey, that seems to be working pretty well.

Another way to look at the difference between open and closed systems is that open systems allow innovation at all levels — from the operating system to the application layer — not just at the top.

I think I get it. You don’t want to write end-user apps, and you’d have to apply for a job at Apple to work on the iPhone OS, and they might not hire you. You already landed a job at Google, but they didn’t come up with the iPhone. They’re trying desperately to get in the game with Android, but it’s not looking like an iPhone killer, despite all the Android-will-win bravado in the tech press. And so all you can do is sit by the sidelines and whine about how Apple should be more “open” so you could fuck around with their OS in your spare time.

Hey, here’s an idea. Write some excellent apps for the iPhone on your own time! Then when the moo-la-lah comes rolling in, you can quit your job at Google — “It’s been fun, guys!” — and devote yourself full-time to writing more excellent iPhone apps. What’s wrong with that?

I don’t know if you’re an example of this or not, but I think one of the problems with computer guys (probably especially at a company like Google), is that they think writing end-user apps is beneath them. They want to write the OS — the really “important” stuff — and let a bunch of other developers somewhere write the end-user apps.

But guess what? Computer users don’t need a gob of new OSes and a modest collection of ho-hum apps for those OSes. They need just one, or a very few, good OSes, and a ton of great apps. That’s what Apple has figured out how to do with the iPhone. That’s why the iPhone is kicking ass.

Google’s future depends on the Internet staying an open system ...

News flash: The internet is an open system, and the iPhone isn’t changing that.

Google has mostly specialized in websites and web-apps, so of course Google would stand to benefit if everything moved to the web. We all read Google’s Chrome cartoon and got a good picture of how everything’s gonna be open, shared, and cross-innovated. But while we were reading it, did we stop for a second to contemplate the fact that Chrome isn’t a web-app? It’s a stand-alone executable binary. Why didn’t Google write Chrome as a web-app, designed to run in other browsers, like Firefox and Internet Explorer? Because that would have sucked royally, that’s why. Well, guess what — there are a lot of other apps that would also suck if they had been written as web-apps.

Web-apps are great. I really like Gmail. But some things will always be much better in a locally executed, processor-native app, while other things will be better in a visit-me-for-free webpage.

The definition of open starts with the technologies upon which the Internet was founded: open standards and open source software. ... Networks have always depended on standards to flourish. When railroad tracks were first being laid across the U.S. in the early 19th century, there were seven different standards for track width. The network didn’t flourish and expand west until the different railway companies agreed upon a standard width of 4' 8.5".

Hey, that’s a pretty good analogy! The network is the rails. The computers (phones, etc.) are the trains. And the end-user apps that run on the computers are — hmmm. Oh, they’re nothing. They don’t exist. No, it’s not a good analogy. It sucks.

Buddy, listen. The internet standardized on a common communication protocol a long time ago. You’re trying to fight a battle that’s already won. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with the claim that a mobile OS should be “open.”

As Eric said in his 2009 strategy memo, “we don’t trap users, we make it easy for them to move to our competitors.” This policy is sort of like the emergency exits on an airplane — an analogy that our pilot CEO would appreciate. You hope to never use them, but you’re glad they’re there and would be furious if they weren’t.

Users want web-apps and users want stand-alone executable apps. If your business is focused on providing ad-supported web-apps and other internet data services (i.e. Google), then you can smirk about how “open” you are, and how “free” your users are to jump ship at any time (but not with their Gmail messages, I’m guessing). And you can gloat about how a company that focuses on fostering creation of processor-native executable apps (i.e. Apple), is “closed,” and its users are “locked-in.”

But you can’t smirk and gloat about how your system is providing users with the overwhelming majority of slick mobile apps.

Because it isn’t. Apple’s is.

 

See also: Pointless Wrappers

 

Update 2010.01.22 — Latest news is that of all mobile apps, 99.4% of them are for the iPhone.

 

Update 2010.03.03 — I stand corrected about the “not with their Gmail messages” thing. But I stand by everything else in this article.

 

Update 2010.07.15 — Apparently the Droid X, one of the more sought-after “open” (i.e. Android) phones, is programmed to intentionally brick itself (i.e. become permanently unusable) when it detects unapproved user modification.

 

Update 2010.07.17 — According to its manufacturer, the Droid X doesn’t permanently brick your phone when it detects unapproved mods — it just temporarily bricks the phone, until you undo your mods.

 

prev     next

 

 

Hear, hear

prev     next

Best Recent Articles

Method of Implementing A Secure Backdoor In Mobile Devices

When Starting A Game of Chicken With Apple, Expect To Lose

How I Clip My Cat’s Nails

Seasons By Temperature, Not Solstice

It’s Not A Criticism, It’s A Fact

Features (Regularly Updated)

A Memory of Gateway — news chronology of Apple’s ascendancy to the top of the technology mountain.

iPhone Party-Poopers Redux and Silly iPad Spoilsports — amusing litanies of industry pundits desperately hoping the iPhone and iPad will go away and die.

Embittered Anti-Apple Belligerents — general anger at Apple’s gi-normous success.

RSS FEED

My books

Now available on the iBookstore!

   

Links

Daring Fireball

The Loop

RoughlyDrafted

Macalope

Red Meat

Despair, Inc.

Real Solution #9 (Mambo Mania Mix) over stock nuke tests. (OK, somebody made them rip out the music — try this instead.)

Ernie & Bert In Casino

Great Explanation of Star Wars

Best commercials (IMO) from Superbowl 41, 43, 45, 46, and 47

Kirk & Spock get Closer

American football explained.

Sonos and Opalum — awesome sound stuff I saw at CEDIA.

TV: Better Call Saul; Homeland; Survivor; The Jinx; Breaking Bad; House of Cards; Inside Amy Schumer

God’s kitchen

Celebrity Death Beeper — news you can use.

Making things for the web.

My vote for best commercial ever. (But this one’s a close second, and I love this one too.)

Recent commercials I admire: KFC, Audi

Best reggae song I’ve discovered in quite a while: Virgin Islands Nice

Pinball Arcade: Unbelievably accurate simulation of classic pinball machines from the late ’70s through the ’90s, with new ones added periodically. Like MAME for pinball — maybe better.

d120 dice: You too (like me) can be the ultimate dice nerd.

WiFi problems? I didn’t know just how bad my WiFi was until I got eero.

Favorite local pad thai: Pho Asian Noodle on Lane Ave. Yes, that place; blame Taco Bell for the amenities. Use the lime, chopsticks, and sriracha. Yummm.

Um, could there something wrong with me if I like this? Or this?

This entire site as a zip file — last updated 2017.11.02

Previous articles

The Ultimate, Simple, Fair Tax

Compassion and Vision

When Starting A Game of Chicken With Apple, Expect To Lose

The Caveat

Superb Owl

NavStar

Basic Reproduction Number

iBook Price-Fixing Lawsuit Redux — Apple Won

Delusion Made By Google

Religion Is A Wall

It’s Not A Criticism, It’s A Fact

Michigan Wolverines 2014 Football Season In Review

Why There’s No MagSafe On the New Mac­Book

Sundar Pichai Says Devices Will Fade Away

The Question Every Ap­ple Naysayer Must An­swer

Apple’s Move To TSMC Is Fine For Apple, Bad For Samsung

Method of Implementing A Secure Backdoor In Mobile Devices

How I Clip My Cat’s Nails

Die Trying

Merger Hindsight

Human Life Decades

Fire and the Wheel — Not Good Examples of A Broken Patent System

Nobody Wants Public Transportation

Seasons By Temperature, Not Solstice

Ode To Coffee

Starting Over

FaceBook Messenger — Why I Don’t Use It

Happy Birthday, Anton Leeuwenhoek

Standard Deviation De­fined

Not Hypocrisy

Simple Guide To Pro­gress Bar Correctness

A Secure Backdoor Is Feasible

Don’t Blink

Predictive Value

Answering the Toughest Question About Disruption Theory

SSD TRIM Command In A Nutshell

The Enderle Grope

Aha! A New Way To Screw Apple

Champagne, By Any Other Maker

iOS Jailbreaking — A Perhaps-Biased Assessment

Embittered Anti-Apple Belligerents

Before 2001, After 2001

What A Difference Six Years Doesn’t Make

Stupefying New Year’s Stupidity

The Innovator’s Victory

The Cult of Free

Fitness — The Ultimate Transparency

Millions of Strange Dev­o­tees and Fanatics

Remember the iPod Killers?

Theory As Simulation

Four Analysts

What Was Christensen Thinking?

The Grass Is Always Greener — Viewing An­gle

Is Using Your Own Pat­ent Still Allowed?

The Upside-Down Tech Future

Motive of the Anti-Ap­ple Pundit

Cheating Like A Human

Disremembering Mi­cro­soft

Security-Through-Obscurity Redux — The Best of Both Worlds

iPhone 2013 Score Card

Dominant and Recessive Traits, Demystified

Yes, You Do Have To Be the Best

The United States of Texas

Vertical Disintegration

He’s No Jobs — Fire Him

A Players

McEnroe, Not Borg, Had Class

Conflict Fades Away

Four-Color Theorem A­nal­y­sis — Rules To Limit the Problem

The Unusual Mo­nop­o­list

Reasonable Projection

Five Times What They Paid For It

Bypassable Security Certificates Are Useless

I’d Give My Right Arm To Go To Mars

Free Advice About Apple’s iOS App Store Guidelines

Inciting Violence

One Platform

Understanding IDC’s Tablet Market Share Graph

I Vote Socialist Be­cause...

That Person

Product Naming — Google Is the Other Microsoft

Antecessor Hypotheticum

Apple Paves the Way For Apple

Why — A Poem

App Anger — the Supersized-Mastodon-In-the-Room That Marco Arment Doesn’t See

Apple’s Graphic Failure

Why Microsoft Copies Apple (and Google)

Coders Code, Bosses Boss

Droidfood For Thought

Investment Is Not A Sure Thing

Exercise is Two Thirds of Everything

Dan “Real Enderle” Ly­ons

Fairness

Ignoring the iPod touch

Manual Intervention Should Never Make A Computer Faster

Predictions ’13

Paperless

Zeroth — Why the Century Number Is One More Than the Year Number

Longer Than It Seems

Partners: Believe In Ap­ple

Gun Control: Best Ar­gu­ments

John C. Dvorak — Translation To English

Destructive Youth

Wiens’s Whine

Free Will — The Grand Equivocation

What Windows-vs.-Mac Actually Proved

A Tale of Two Logos

Microsoft’s Three Paths

Amazon Won’t Be A Big Winner In the DOJ’s Price-Fixing Suit

Infinite Sets, Infinite Authority

Strategy Analytics and Long Term Ac­count­a­bil­i­ty

The Third Stage of Computing

Why 1 Isn’t Prime, 2 Is Prime, and 2 Is the Only Even Prime

Readability BS

Lie Detection and Psy­chos

Liking

Steps

Microsoft’s Dim Pros­pects

Humanity — Just Barely

Hanke-Henry Calendar Won’t Be Adopted

Collatz Conjecture A­nal­y­sis (But No Proof; Sorry)

Rock-Solid iOS App Stability

Microsoft’s Uncreative Character

Microsoft’s Alternate Reality Bubble

Microsoft’s Three Ruts

Society’s Fascination With Mass Murder

PlaysForSure and Wikipedia — Revisionism At Its Finest

Procrastination

Patent Reform?

How Many Licks

Microsoft’s Incredible Run

Voting Socialist

Darwin Saves

The Size of Things In the Universe

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy That Wasn’t

Fun

Nobody Was In Love With Windows

Apples To Apples — How Anti-Apple Pundits Shoot Themselves In the Foot

No Holds Barred

Betting Against Hu­man­i­ty

Apple’s Premium Features Are Free

Why So Many Computer Guys Hate Apple

3D TV With No Glasses and No Parallax/Focus Issues

Waves With Particle-Like Properties

Gridlock Is Just Fine

Sex Is A Fantasy

Major Player

Why the iPad Wannabes Will Definitely Flop

Predators and Parasites

Prison Is For Lotto Losers

The False Dichotomy

Wait and See — Windows-vs-Mac Will Repeat Itself

Dishonesty For the Greater Good

Barr Part 2

Enough Information

Zune Is For Apple Haters

Good Open, Bad Open

Beach Bodies — Who’s Really Shallow?

Upgrade? Maybe Not

Eliminating the Im­pos­si­ble

Selfish Desires

Farewell, Pirate Cachet

The Two Risk-Takers

Number of Companies — the Idiocy That Never Dies

Holding On To the Solution

Apple Religion

Long-Term Planning

What You Have To Give Up

The End of Elitism

Good and Evil

Life

How Religion Distorts Science

Laziness and Creativity

Sideloading and the Supersized-Mastodon-In-the-Room That Snell Doesn’t See

Long-Term Self-De­lu­sion

App Store Success Won’t Translate To Books, Movies, and Shows

Silly iPad Spoilsports

I Disagree

Five Rational Coun­ter­ar­gu­ments

Majority Report

Simply Unjust

Zooman Science

Reaganomics — Like A Diet — Works

Free R&D?

Apple’s On the Right Track

Mountains of Evidence

What We Do

Hope Conquers All

Humans Are Special — Just Not That Special

Life = Survival of the Fittest

Excuse Me, We’re Going To Build On Your Property

No Trademark iWorries

Knowing

Twisted Excuses

The Fall of Google

Real Painters

The Meaning of Kicking Ass

How To Really Stop Casual Movie Disc Ripping

The Solitary Path of the High-Talent Pro­gram­mer

Fixing, Not Preaching

Why Blackmail Is Still Illegal

Designers Cannot Do Anything Imaginable

Wise Dr. Drew

Rats In A Too-Small Cage

Coming To Reason

Everything Isn’t Moving To the Web

Pragmatics, Not Rights

Grey Zone

Methodologically Dogmatic

The Purpose of Lan­guage

The Punishment Defines the Crime

Two Many Cooks

Pragmatism

One Last Splurge

Making Money

What Heaven and Hell Are Really About

America — The Last Suburb

Hoarding

What the Cloud Isn’t For

Diminishing Returns

What You’re Seeing

What My Life Needs To Be

Taking An Early Re­tire­ment

Office Buildings

A, B, C, D, Pointless Relativity

Stephen Meyer and Michael Medved — Where Is ID Going?

If You Didn’t Vote — Complain Away

iPhone Party-Poopers Redux

What Free Will Is Really About

Spectacularly Well

Pointless Wrappers

PTED — The P Is Silent

Out of Sync

Stupid Stickers

Security Through Nor­mal­cy

The Case For Corporate Bonuses

Movie Copyrights Are Forever

Permitted By Whom?

Quantum Cognition and Other Hogwash

The Problem With Message Theory

Bell’s Boring Inequality and the Insanity of the Gaps

Paying the Rent At the 6 Park Avenue A­part­ments

Primary + Reviewer — An Alternative IT Plan For Corporations

Yes Yes Yes

Feelings

Hey Hey Whine Whine

Microsoft About Microsoft Visual Microsoft Studio Microsoft

Hidden Purple Tiger

Forest Fair Mall and the Second Lamborghini

Intelligent Design — The Straight Dope

Maxwell’s Demon — Three Real-World Ex­am­ples

Zealots

Entitlement BS

Agenderle

Mutations

Einstein’s Error — The Confusion of Laws With Their Effects

The Museum Is the Art

Polly Sooth the Air Rage

The Truth

The Darkness

Morality = STDs?

Fulfilling the Moral Du­ty To Disdain

MustWinForSure

Choice

Real Design

The Two Rules of Great Programming

Cynicism

The End of the Nerds

Poverty — Humanity’s Damage Control

Berners-Lee’s Rating System = Google

The Secret Anti-MP3 Trick In “Independent Women” and “You Sang To Me”

ID and the Large Had­ron Collider Scare

Not A Bluff

The Fall of Microsoft

Life Sucks When You’re Not Winning

Aware

The Old-Fashioned Way

The Old People Who Pop Into Existence

Theodicy — A Big Stack of Papers

The Designed, Cause-and-Effect Brain

Mosaics

IC Counterarguments

The Capitalist’s Imaginary Line

Education Isn’t Eve­ry­thing

I Don’t Know

Funny iPhone Party-Poopers

Avoiding Conflict At All Costs

Behavior and Free Will, Unconfused

“Reduced To” Ab­sur­dum

Suzie and Bubba Redneck — the Carriers of Intelligence

Everything You Need To Know About Haldane’s Dilemma

Darwin + Hitler = Ba­lo­ney

Meta-ware

Designed For Combat

Speed Racer R Us

Bold — Uh-huh

Conscious of Con­scious­ness

Future Perfect

Where Real and Yahoo Went Wrong

The Purpose of Surface

Eradicating Religion Won’t Eradicate War

Documentation Overkill

A Tale of Two Movies

The Changing Face of Sam Adams

Dinesh D’Souza On ID

Why Quintic (and Higher) Polynomials Have No Algebraic Solution

Translation of Paul Graham’s Footnote To Plain English

What Happened To Moore’s Law?

Goldston On ID

The End of Martial Law

The Two Faces of Ev­o­lu­tion

A Fine Rec­om­men­da­tion

Free Will and Population Statistics

Dennett/D’Souza Debate — D’Souza

Dennett/D’Souza Debate — Dennett

The Non-Euclidean Ge­om­e­try That Wasn’t There

Defective Attitude Towards Suburbia

The Twin Deficit Phan­toms

Sleep Sync and Vertical Hold

More FUD In Your Eye

The Myth of Rub­ber­neck­ing

Keeping Intelligent Design Honest

Failure of the Amiga — Not Just Mis­man­age­ment

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer = Be My Honey Do?

End Unsecured Debt

The Digits of Pi Cannot Be Sequentially Generated By A Computer Program

Faster Is Better

Goals Can’t Be Avoided

Propped-Up Products

Ignoring ID Won’t Work

The Crabs and the Bucket

Communism As A Side Effect of the Transition To Capitalism

Google and Wikipedia, Revisited

National Geographic’s Obesity BS

Cavemen

Theodicy Is For Losers

Seattle Redux

Quitting

Living Well

A Memory of Gateway

Is Apple’s Font Rendering Really Non-Pixel-Aware?

Humans Are Complexity, Not Choice

A Subtle Shift

Moralism — The Emperor’s New Success

Code Is Our Friend

The Edge of Religion

The Dark Side of Pixel-Aware Font Rendering

The Futility of DVD En­cryp­tion

ID Isn’t About Size or Speed

Blood-Curdling Screams

ID Venn Diagram

Rich and Good-Looking? Why Libertarianism Goes Nowhere

FUV — Fear, Uncertainty, and Vista

Malware Isn’t About Total Control

Howard = Second Com­ing?

Doomsday? Or Just Another Sunday

The Real Function of Wikipedia In A Google World

Objective-C Philosophy

Clarity From Cisco

2007 Macworld Keynote Prediction

FUZ — Fear, Uncertainty, and Zune

No Fear — The Most Important Thing About Intelligent Design

How About A Rational Theodicy

Napster and the Subscription Model

Intelligent Design — Introduction

The One Feature I Want To See In Apple’s Safari.