You can't have it both ways

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As someone who’s relatively knowledgeable about Apple and the Mac and iPod platforms, I’m regularly amused—and, to be honest, occasionally annoyed—by statements I see about each topic in the press and around the Web. Some people just aren’t well-informed when it comes to Apple, but others have an unhealthy dislike for the company and anything associated with it. (You might say, a fanatical—even cultish—dislike.)

Take two specific security-related arguments I’ve seen recently, both quite popular among pundits and commenters, and both at times espoused by the same individuals—yet, when taken together, quite contradictory:

  1. The reason there’s a near-total lack of viruses and malware on the Mac platform is that the Mac’s market share is too small for anyone to care to write viruses. Windows is only overwhelmed because of its dominant position in the market.
  2. Since Apple’s FairPlay DRM (digital rights management) technology has been compromised a similar number of times as (or a couple more times than, depending on who’s writing) Microsoft’s PlaysForSure DRM, Apple’s technology is obviously no more secure. Thus, Apple is blowing smoke about the reason it’s reluctant to license the technology.

Let’s ignore for the moment the issue of whether or not either of these statements has any basis in reality, and set aside feelings about DRM as a technology. Do you see the irony here? If one contends that Windows has thousands of times more exploits than Mac OS X because the former has 90 percent of the market compared to the Mac’s single-digit share, then how does one explain the fact that PlaysForSure, which has single-digit market share, has been compromised roughly the same number of times as Apple’s FairPlay DRM, which has more than 80 percent of the DRM-protected music market? Isn’t that a strong case for FairPlay being much more secure than PlaysForSure?

Or, to look at it another way, if the fact that FairPlay may have been compromised a couple more times than PlaysForSure, regardless of market share, means that the latter is more secure, then by that same logic, Mac OS X is almost immeasurably more secure than Windows XP. After all, market share is irrelevant, right? (I use XP here because it’s a known entity; we’ve yet to see what will happen with Vista.)

To the people trying to make both arguments, here’s the thing: The number of exploits either matters or it doesn’t. Market share either matters or it doesn’t. You can’t pick and choose depending on which makes it easier to take shots at Apple. There are some good reasons to criticize the company, but you should at least try to be logically consistent.

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