Ready for a trip down the rabbit hole, Alice?
Writing for TechCrunch, Jon Evans say “Don’t Be Apple”.
And by “Don’t be Apple”, he means don’t be the alternate reality Apple he’s created that has a goatee, an agony booth and whose logo has a knife through the fruit.
Because it’s just that dumb.
As is required by the law governing discussions of Evil Apple, the article is accompanies by an image from the company’s 1984 ad. CHECK. Please proceed.
There is so much to admire about Apple.
But what if there weren’t?
So why do I think they represent so much of what’s wrong with the tech world?
Paranoia? The Macalope’s gonna guess it’s unbridled paranoia coupled with an unhealthy devotion to open source dogma. That’s what it usually is.
It’s because they have, I think, an almost Shakespearean tragic flaw…
The thing about Shakespearean flaws is that they always lead to a downfall in the third act. Looking at Apple, it really doesn’t seem like that’s happening yet. Presumably this will come during the Year of Linux on the Desktop.
…their obsession with centralized corporate control of the devices they sell.
Which has no benefits whatsoever.
…Apple has been admirably pro-privacy, especially of late, despite the skepticism of industry analysts.
…their implicit bargain is “your personal information is safe with us, because we make our money from selling things to you rather than you to other companies”…
But what if it wasn’t?!
Journey with Evans, if you will, to the land of BizarroApple!
Wait, before we do that, doesn’t it seem like this would be a good time for a “walled garden” reference for those of you filling out your anti-Apple diatribe bingo cards?
…a walled garden of an ecosystem…
There we go. OK, now let’s take a look through the looking glass of Evan’s mind at BizarroApple.
…governments around the world are raising their voices with increasing fury, demanding that companies rat out their users’ privacy to governments. Apple, to their credit, is strongly resisting. But at the same time, their hegemonic model would make them the perfect complement to any surveillance state.
Apple makes money selling devices. One of the key differentiators between Apple’s products and those of its competitors is they don’t make money on your information. But in Evans’ world (which is one that only exists in his fever dream) Apple will ditch that competitive advantage because… well, we’re not really sure why. Because it hates our personal liberties or some such.
Benevolent dictators are wonderful until suddenly they aren’t.
The problem with real benevolent dictators is they generally don’t let you go. How would Apple actually keep you using their devices once they decide they’re going to hand over all your information to the government’s jack-booted thugs? We pretty much have to assume not only a change to our political system, but one to our economic system as well. Let’s also assume our reality is one in which humans regularly befriend and ride dinosaurs. As long as we’re making things up, let’s get something good out of it.
The irony here, of course, is that Apple is the company most called out by rapacious police officials as supporting child molesters because it protects its customers information. Damned if they do, damned if they do but theoretically in a parallel timeline might not.
Can you imagine a future in which, following a similar tragedy [to 9/11], Apple rolls over and becomes a de facto arm of surveillance states? I sure can…
Of course you can.
You can aim similar criticisms at Android, too, but they would miss the mark.
Of course they would.
Apple fights an ongoing war with iOS jailbreakers…
How do hackers jailbreak iPhones? Through exploits. How do nefarious parties gain access to individuals phones to steal their information?
Buh, uh, magic? Mumble-mumble.
It may seem silly to criticize a fantastic company that makes superb products and delights its users on the basis of an abstract philosophical dispute.
But welcome to the world of magical open-source thinking, where dreams and nightmares walk among us. Remember, open source cannot fail, it can only be failed. In most cases by reality.
Maybe, as this contrast heightens, Apple will see the light; maybe instead of fighting jailbreakers, they will offer jailbreaking and sideloading as an option for power users out of the box, just as Android does.
Maybe Apple will make iOS less secure in order to make us more secure.
Sometimes in the name of Orwellian paranoia, we must use Orwellian double-talk. After all, you can’t make a utopian omelette without breaking a few reality eggs.