The Customer Is Always Right – by “Vishal M”

404market: a market for markets
Xzibit on 404market, a market for markets

Just about 48 hours ago, two Thiel Fellows — a Yale undergrad on leave-of-absence and a recent ASU grad — launched a site that they hope will change the way startups listen to the market. The site, called 404market, aims to eliminate (or at least seriously diminish) the risk of startups developing products people won’t use, by allowing its users to express monetary demand for products and services that are wanted but don’t exist.

The model works like this: if somebody has an idea for something they really want , they post a “404” expressing that wish, and they also make an “offer” expressing how much they would pay for that thing. Once the 404 is posted, other 404market users can view the 404 and make their own bids on the product or service to express demand to potential suppliers. Once enough demand ($$$) has been aggregated, somebody with the ability to provide that product or service will agree to supply it. After customers have committed money to buy the product or service immediately upon its completion, 404market will monitor the transaction to ensure that the product is satisfactorily made according to the criteria specified by the customers-to-be, and by the end of the transaction, supply has arisen to meet the demand, the suppliers have made some money, and everyone is happy. The types of products and services on the site vary immensely — some people are looking for mobile apps or custom-made software for PC/Mac, while Paul Gu, the Yalie co-founder, is already in the negotiation process with Ivy Noodle to have them add Steamed Juicy Pork Buns to their menu, given sufficient demand.

The Price of an Idea, the Price of a Market

What is the market price of an idea? If you were to try to sell an idea, and nothing else, how much money would you be able to put in your pocket at the end of the day? Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator and all-around startup guru, makes a convincing argument that oftentimes an idea for a startup alone, if not worthless, is not far from it.

A lot of would-be startup founders think the key to the whole process is the initial idea, and from that point all you have to do is execute. Venture capitalists know better. If you go to VC firms with a brilliant idea that you’ll tell them about if they sign a nondisclosure agreement, most will tell you to get lost. That shows how much a mere idea is worth. The market price is less than the inconvenience of signing an NDA. (source)

But what about the price of a market? If you could give somebody not only an idea, but also a market ready to adopt the product that comes from that idea — a market that will pay money for the product the moment it is created, with a predetermined and pre-disclosed bottom line for sales volume and price — how much would that be worth? Certainly not zero, but it’s hard to say much beyond that. That’s why I’m very curious to see how 404market turns out. There are, of course, other companies that operate under a related model, where a critical mass of customers is needed to tip a deal — two obvious examples that come to mind are Groupon and Kickstarter — but these still operate in specific domains (in this case, group discounts and group project-funding), and are not, in their simplest form, markets for pure demand.

Customer Development and Business Model Generation

One methodology espoused by many entrepreneurs today, which is very much in line with the idea of listening to the market and identifying demand before creating supply, is adherence to the model of customer development. Customer development, a term coined by author and retired serial entrepreneur Steve Blank, is seen as the cure for the ailment that he believes most startups die from: they build a product that nobody wants to buy. He’s written a full book on the topic, called The Four Steps to the Epiphany, so if you want to learn about customer development in real depth you should read it, but for now I’ll give you a brief run-down.

1) The product development model is broken

The emphasis in this model is on the first ship. Marketing and sales money is spent early on, and the product is perfected and branded before it’s released. This opens up the possibility of a huge problem: if customers aren’t into the product, by the time it’s shipped, it’s too late. Money is burned, and future iterations of the product are costly.

2) Customer development is the solution

Instead of focusing on product development as the main driving force of the startup, focus on building a customer base. Using these four steps (customer discovery, customer validation, customer creation, and finally company building), company is able to iterate quickly and cheaply, adapt to proven demand from potential customers, offset sales and marketing costs until later in the game, and, perhaps most importantly, if the startup is going to fail, it will fail quickly.

[video] [slides]

This past summer, I had the opportunity to sit in on a talk that was co-led by Steve Blank and Alexander Osterwalder. Alexander offers a complementary methodology to Steve’s customer development: Business Model Generation. Again, there is a full book on the topic, but the key takeaway is the chart seen again and again throughout the book, which helps entrepreneurs break down their business model piece by piece. You can see how answering the questions implicit in this chart would be made immensely easier using Steve Blank’s approach of customer development; without listening to the market, the information in this chart would be little more than guesswork:

Alexander Osterwalder's Business Model Canvas

Take special note of the fields “Value Proposition”, “Customer Segments”, “Revenue Streams”, and “Customer Relationships”. It’s hard to imagine how these could be completed accurately without a very deep understanding of the potential customer base, their needs, and, most importantly, their willingness to pay for your product. If the answers don’t lead to encouraging revenue projections, perhaps it’s time to try building a different product.

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, without customers, there is no business. No matter how much venture capital you can raise, no matter how smart your team is, no matter how brilliant your product’s design, the startup will fail without customers willing to pay money for its product. That’s why it’s best to test the waters early on, by listening to customers and finding proven demand for a product or service. Maybe this could be done through surveys and focus groups, or showing wireframes sketched in a notebook to random people in a cafe; maybe it could be done through 404market. But one thing is certain: the customer is always right.

 

How Important Is Freedom, Really? – by “Dan”

Protector of the Free Software. Image by Victor Powell

Richard Stallman, the leader of the Free Software movement, has sacrificed his life to fighting for open-source code and our right to modify existing software. But should we sacrifice as well?

 

 

Since he left his position at MIT in 1983,  Richard Stallman has devoted his life to the rights of individual creators and programmers. He singlehandedly created the Free Software Foundation, and went on to write a number of high quality system utilities for Unix and Unix-like operating systems. Most importantly, he created a movement that changed the face of software copyright and distribution. Today, that movement is thriving, with a plethora of codebases for many different problem domains publicly available, free for any use under the GPL.

 

This past summer, I experienced firsthand the possibilities of an open-source world. I worked on an Apache Foundation software project, Hadoop, licensed under the Apache License, which the FSF views as compatible with their own GPL. Because of this license, and the spirit of free software prevalent in the marketplace, I was able to view the source code of the project that forms the backbone of products and services offered by such software giants as Yahoo!, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, eBay, HP, IBM, LinkedIn, Netflix, The New York Times, and Twitter. Perhaps more importantly, the code that I implemented may someday become part of the software that these companies, and any other interested parties, use. It is easy to imagine an alternate situation where each of these companies maintain similar, proprietary solutions to the same problem (scalable, distributed computing in this case). It is because of the philosophy and work of the Free Software Foundation that these companies are able to collaborate so freely, and that I could in turn study and modify their combined efforts. In many situations, the work of the FSF results in software products that are more accessible and just easier to use. But in my experience, this is not always the case.

 

The GNU site hosts many essays on the philosophical musings and practical recommendations of Stallman and the others at the Free Software Foundation. Looking recently through the list, my attention was directed to an article titled “Is Microsoft the Great Satan?” Despite the exciting title, the essay was not very incendiary. One line stands out, however.

 “…you need to reject all proprietary software, regardless of who developed it or who distributes it.”

This sounds like a great idea, but as I thought about the implications of this clause, I realized just what I would be missing out on if I rejected all proprietary software. I wouldn’t be able to listen to MP3s.

Audacity is one of the most popular digital audio editors available today, with a download rate of over 1 million copies per month. It is written and maintained by The Audacity Team, and is released as free, open-source software. The program allows users to record and import audio files as tracks, and then cut, mix and otherwise modify the tracks to create a single audio file as output. It is designed to be easy to use, yet powerful enough to handle the needs of audio engineering amateurs and prosumers working on a wide variety of projects. Under the terms that Audacity is distributed, that of the GPL, all source code must be freely distributable, without restriction on its subsequent use. According to Section 12 of the GPL, if the conditions on any part of the distributed software contradict the GPL, then the software cannot be distributed at all. It is for this reason that Audacity does not support the MP3 file format.

 

The MP3 file format, used ubiquitously for sharing and storing songs and other audio tracks, is protected under patent law. The format is the intellectual property of the Fraunhofer Society, the German applied science research organization which invented the standard. In the USA, Canada, the EU, and Japan, among other countries, the patents are enforceable, and through the administration of Thomson Consumer Electronics, the Fraunhofer Society has received royalties and licensing fees for use of the MP3 standard in software and hardware equipment since 1994. In 2005 alone, they received 100 million euros in such fees. When an individual acquires a consumer music product, whether hardware or software, whether free or paid, the producer of the content pays a fee to the original creator of the MP3 standard. Developers who distribute their code as open-source cannot be expected to pay licensing fees for the users of their contributions, and so the GPL expressly prohibits that kind of arrangement. In effect, there cannot be a truly useful music player or editor program released under the GPL, where usefulness is (reasonably) defined to include the handling of MP3 files.

Although Audacity does not come with support for MP3s out of the box, it is designed to work with third-party extensions that provide exactly this functionality. There is even a link to LAME, a popular free MP3 encoder, on the dialog box that informs the user that MP3 output is not supported. But use of this workaround violates the Free Software Foundation’s call to “reject all proprietary software”, as LAME or any other encoder used will be protected by a proprietary license. By clicking the link, you propagate the control of software by restrictive contracts and submit to the authority of an outside owner who retains complete control over the software and any modification of it.

Downloading LAME may violate the spirit of the FSF, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing to do. Rejecting all proprietary software can only stifle innovation and put limits on our creative output. While it is conceivable that all individuals would be better off in a world where all software was released under the GPL, in our world today, I am content to use free software when it is convenient and useful, and unafraid to use proprietary software otherwise. For most users, a computer is merely a means to an end, and in this regard, the philosophy of the Free Software Foundation may be alienating and ridiculous to many who hear of it. It is important to separate the ideology and rhetoric from the reality of the situation. Fight for a free tomorrow, but work flexibly within the intellectual property framework in place today.

Creative Commons, Lolcats, and the New Copyleft – by “MNQ”

Say you did a Wikipedia search for the history of electropop dance music, out of curiosity for its origins and sudden rise to prominence in the early late 2000s, and, finding no intuitive visual timeline describing key events, you decide to make your own. When you’ve finished, you find it so useful that you think it belongs on that Wikipedia page – maybe this way, some unknown day in the not too far off future, when somebody similarly curious happens upon the history of electropop, they find your awesome timeline and are better off for it. Your contribution has added some amount of knowledge to the human digital commons, or something like that. So, you, our intrepid Wikipedia contributor, prepare to upload your work. Upon doing so, however, you’re confronted with a choice, and not a trivial one – a choice upon which the entire utility and visibility of your timeline hinges. You must select a license.

From http://icanhascheezburger.com/2010/05/01/funny-pictures-stoopid-cop/

In 2009, Wikipedia chose to move to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license as the default license for all user uploaded media on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia-operated websites. You can check the permissions & license of any media file uploaded to Wikipedia. As more and more of traditional media made the move from analog to digital, it became clear that there were no sufficient licenses to protect legitimate sharing and, so to speak, “standing on the shoulders of giants,” perhaps the linchpin of human knowledge and progress and liberty and all that good stuff. The GPL and BSD licenses were all well and good for software, but computers were not just for programs, programmers, and users anymore. Creative works expanded to include media, articles, documents – you name it. There needed to be a non-software creative works equivalent of software licenses like the GNU General Public License (GPL), and various schemes stepped up to the plate, including the GNU Free Document License (GFDL) and the Creative Commons license suite.

Creative Commons shares a methodology with other free software and document licenses – namely, fitting a system for protecting certain uses of a [mostly] copyrighted work within the existing digital copyright framework. No licensing system, or rather, no successful licensing system, purports to replace or circumvent existing copyright law (as far as I know). This seems to beg a question, however – what makes a licensing system successful? We could look at this in several ways. A license could be legally successful, in that it has been upheld in a court of law; and/or a license could be socially successful, in that it has been adopted by and is supported by content creators; and/or a license could be ideologically successful, in that it tends to augment and bolster arguments in favor of some ideology, in this case, free media & documents.

 

The CC License Spectrum

 

But then that raises another issue – is Creative Commons a license? In short, no. Creative Commons is an organization, and a family of 6 related, but distinct, licenses. When evaluating a Creative Commons license, for legal, social, and ideological success, we must do so for each license, since each has its own strengths and weaknesses, supports and critiques. I won’t get too into each license, since Creative Commons itself actually puts a lot of work into translating its licenses from legalese to normal English.

From http://icanhascheezburger.com/2009/01/23/funny-pictures-press-2-for-lolspeak/

What I really want to measure here is the relative success of each license, insofar as there’s some evidence available. With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of each Creative Commons license:

1. Attribution – CC BY


What does it do?:
“This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.”

Legally successful?: Not in the US. Someone did sue over improper use of a photo under CC BY, but the case was thrown out for lack of jurisdiction, so it hardly counts as a test of the license itself.

Socially successful?: If nothing else, it does help promote what we might call a “citation culture” outside of academia. In other words, it encourages people to give credit to others where it’s due, no matter how many wild arbitrary changes they make to the original work. (Granted, the authors might not even want to be associated with the derivations…)

Ideologically successful?: Sort of. One test we can apply here is the “What would Richard Stallman say?” test (this test will use his testimonial from the given link to evaluate the ideological success of a license). In this case, he would probably say that the fact that it doesn’t require derivative works to use the same license makes it essentially worthless for the cause of free media. But hey, you get your name on stuff!

2. Attribution-ShareAlike – CC BY-SA


What does it do?:
“This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.”

Legally successful?: Not in the US. Wikipedia has been sued for other reasons, but their use of CC BY-SA was never challenged.

Socially successful?: Well, it is the license used by Wikipedia, and closely reflects free software licenses. Additionally, any work that makes use of Wikpedia articles must use the CC BY-SA license, which is pretty key.

Ideologically successful?: Yes! This license most closely resembles the GPL[link], in that it tries to ensure that derivative works remain as free as the works they’re based on.

3. Attribution NoDerivs – CC BY-ND


What does it do?:
“This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.”

Legally successful?: Not in the US.

Socially successful?: With the ease of manipulation of digital works, it is unlikely that this is actually adhered to at all.

Ideologically successful?: Richard Stallman would probably say: No, because it doesn’t allow any changes to the original work, stifling free creativity. True that.

4. Attribution-NonCommercial – CC BY-NC


What does it do?: “
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.”

Legally successful?: Not in the US.

Socially successful?: For example, this is a very common license for works released by academic institutions that want to freely share knowledge without others profiting from it, so yes.

Ideologically successful?: Richard Stallman would probably say: Somewhat, but it doesn’t allow anyone to profit from the distribution of derivative works (which makes it more restrictive than the GPL), and it also doesn’t guarantee that derivative works will be similarly free.

5. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike – CC-BY-NC-SA


What does it do?:
“This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.”

Legally successful?: Not in the US.

Socially successful?: Unclear if it’s as socially successful as #4, since ShareAlike adds an extra burden on the author of the derivative work.

Ideologically successful?: Richard Stallman would probably say: Somewhat, but it doesn’t allow anyone to profit from the distribution of derivative works (which makes it more restrictive than the GPL), but at least it requires that derivative works use the same license, which makes it a bit more ideologically successful than #4.

6. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs – CC-BY-NC-ND


What does it do?:
“This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.”

Legally successful?: Not in the US.

Socially successful?: This license is often used and abused by companies looking to prevent commercial derivatives of commercial works. So, in that sense, yes.

Ideologically successful?: Freedom to distribute, but no freedom to make changes or improvements, not even for personal use. Imagine buying a book and not being able to write notes in it – this is quite restrictive. In this sense, it defeats the purpose of free media.

Ultimately, it’s hard to judge Creative Commons’ legal success in the US, because it just hasn’t been tested enough in US courts, if at all. Notice too that, at their root, all of the licenses share a bare minimum of Attribution in common. So, it could be said that the licenses form a sort of spectrum from not terribly restrictive to very restrictive, or, from Attribution to “Credited Verbatim Distribution” (that is, sharing is cool as long as the author is credited and no changes are made and the work is never used for commercial purposes). If any broad critique of Creative Commons were to be made, it would necessarily have to find conflict with Attribution. And actually, Attribution does pose several challenges: 1) How do you prove authorship of a work? 2) Once proving authorship, how significant must a change be for it to count as derivative? 3) How are authors to be credited in derivative works? Especially for question 3, take this for example: someone remixes a book, keeping the title and general themes, but changing the entire plot so that the ending is completely different from the original. Should the original author be credited by saying “Inspired by so and so,” or would that imply some sort of approval on the part of the author?

What about the lolcats?

 

You know, speaking of Lolcats, where might they fall on the Creative Commons license spectrum? Lolcats are perhaps most obviously a great example of fair use, but I wonder where they might fit into a supplemental license scheme, just, perhaps, for the lols, so let’s take a look. Icanhazcheezburger’s legal policies only specify that users can’t upload others’ copyrighted work (except for where it counts as fair use), but that’s all it says really. So we have some room here to speculate about current lolcat use and, based on that, what feasible licensing options Icanhazcheeseburger would have with Creative Commons.

Lolcats can’t possibly fall into any of the licenses requiring No Derivatives or No Commercial Use, since building new lolcat captions off of others’ lolcats is a feature built-into the site, and since commercial derivative works are readily available for purchase on Amazon. So that knocks 3-6 off the list, leaving CC BY and CC BY-SA. I think, quite clearly, lolcats would necessarily fall into CC BY-SA – creators  of lolcats, upon submission, must consent to the eternal remixing of their work, since it is a feature of the Icanhazcheezburger community, and derivations cannot be made without crediting the original author. That said, Icanhazcheezburger does allow uploads derived from “unknown” sources – something that users could potentially exploit (ie. knowingly making derivatives of works under a license preventing derivatives by not crediting the original). This is all, of course, within the Icanhazcheezburger network, but I’m just speculating based off usage and norms in the lolcat community, not necessarily how they’re used on the internet outside of that.

Creative Commons – A Success Story?

 

Is Creative Commons successful? Well, you decide; but, I think clearly the answer is both yes and no – successful socially, debatably successful ideologically, and as of yet untreated legally. But really, if not a licensing system like Creative Commons, what else? Sometimes the most powerful legal tool is the convenient one that is seen to have some social weight. And really, it’s better to have a license than no license if you value your workmanship even a little, since the absence of copyright is public domain cut and dry, and anyone can do anything with whatever you make as they please. Creative Commons seems to underline an important tendency we have as humans – we like getting credit for things. And, getting credit for things encourages us to be creative, especially if we know that we’ll get credited for our creativity. Maybe a vicious cycle, maybe a bit self-centered, but would art exist without it? What about science? A slippery slope indeed. That said, licenses like this establish Attribution over property – meaning that getting credit for something takes precedence over owning that something. That could set a very interesting philosophical precedence for future content creators – under licenses like these, you would know that you are giving up your digital “property rights” for attribution rights, for the sake of the common good of collaboration. Not a bad common good, I think.

From http://icanhascheezburger.com/2007/12/20/cute-kittens-pictures-teamwork/

 

P.S. If this kind of thing interests you, there are two excellent posts on this blog, one exploring a Wikipedia without borders, and the other treating different notions of copyright in a “free world”. This is all, of course, only a starting point.

P.P.S. Not coincidentally, all the images used in this post are protected under either fair use or a Creative Commons license. So is this blog post.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Apple: The End of the WebKit Philosophy – A Move Towards Integration – by “Ian F”

When Apple emerged from near bankruptcy in the late nineties to target a niche market, it made open source a high priority. Now, we see Apple veering from that path. With mobile computing becoming more popular and the tablet market growing, we find ourselves witnesses to an all out war between Google and Apple. The result is Google portraying Apple as closed and guarded, preventing the public from contributing to and improving it. In a way, Google’s right. Over the last few years Apple has slowly been closing certain doors to developers and consumers. However, Apple argues that it has found a middle ground between open and closed source. It fights back at Google with the concept that fewer devices and software, and more  control is better.

 

The History of WebKit: When Apple Was Open Source

WebKit was Apple's original open source project

In 2003, Apple announced the release of its new web browser Safari. The company said it was built on KHTML, the rendering engine used by KDE Linux. Apple made improvements and added content to KHTML and then released its version of the code as WebKit.

Why would Apple allow public access to the source code of a valuable product like Safari? Because it had to by law. KHTML was partially developed by bedroom programmers and they licensed it under the Lesser GNU Public License (LGPL). The main idea behind the LGPL is: If you distribute a copy or modification of a code licensed under the LGPL, you have to give away the source code too (if they ask for it).

There were two real reasons Apple decided to build on open source software. The first and simplest answer is that creating a rendering engine from scratch would be a massive undertaking and Apple didn’t want to spend the time or money. The second is that Apple was worried about Microsoft. In the early nineties, Microsoft pushed Apple into an extremely small corner of the market using Internet Explorer (IE). The well-known browser became the standard for Internet interactivity and only came bundled with Microsoft Windows. Apple knew that a lot of websites required IE to work correctly so they pushed the adoption of an open standard: WebKit.

At the time, Apple was promoting open source and had no problem posting the code. But, they didn’t realize what WebKit would become and how their outlook would change. During the years following Safari’s release, Apple made continuous updates to WebKit. They also used it to create other applications like the Apple email client Mail and it soon served as a base for the wildly successful iOS mobile operating system. Eventually, other companies made the same choice Apple made in 2003; they wanted to use WebKit as a base for their own products. So we saw other WebKit projects emerge (especially in the mobile genre): Windows’ game distribution software Steam, parts of Adobe CS5, Google Chrome, the Palm Pre interface, BlackBerry Browser, and the Android web browser (to name the most popular)

Kindle Fire
The Kindle Fire runs on Android, a WebKit based OS, and is direct competition for Apple's iPad

So, some WebKit based software is in direct competition with certain Apple Max OSX and iOS software. To take it a step further though, some companies have started porting these softwares to hardware devices that conflict with the Macbook, iPhone, and iPad Tablet. For example Google’s Chromebook, any Android equipped smart phone, and now Amazon’s new tablet the Kindle Fire.

 

 

 

Apple Slowly Closes the Doors

Apple became a great open source alternative to Microsoft, promoting innovation and growth in the industry. But soon, Apple started withdrawing some of its open source efforts, it started limiting privileges and how its devices could be used.

Apple was forced to sacrifice it’s open source roots to sell the iPod. Apple had to include DRM on iPods and had to advocate the DMCA if they wanted to convince the music industry to sell on iTunes. Then, Apple restrictions continued. In September 2007, Apple started adding a checksum hash to iTunesDB files (the files needed to sync libraries to iPods). This encrypted the files and made it impossible to use third party software like Winamp and Songbird. The open source community was angry with apple and the hash was hacked. A constant progession of updates and new workarounds eventually ended when Apple issuing a DMCA takedown against iPodHash, a BlueWiki group.

The trend of limiting third-party developers continued with the App Store. One reason the iPhone was so successful is the plethora of useful (and pointless) apps. There was something for everyone, made clear in Apple’s advertising campaign “There’s an App for that”

But, developing apps for Apple devices is becoming a more demanding process. There are constant updates to the rules that determine whether an app is allowed into the store. In fact, it’s possible for a developer to spend months of time working on a project, only to have it rejected by Apple’s rigorous review process. This means third-party companies and individuals are taking their products to platforms where they know they’ll published. The same is the case for the new Mac OSX App Store. We could see in the near future, an operating system supported only by apps bought through the store.

The most extreme and conclusive evidence that Apple is moving away from open source was a failure to release WebKit code in a timely manner. Both iOS and Android have roots in WebKit so both Apple and Google have to update the source code when they release updates or new versions of their operating system. Apple has been taking longer and longer to do so. Apple has waited as long as six months after an update to release source code. That was only after an outraged blog onslaught by the open source community.

 

Apple: Integrated, Not Closed

Google is promoting itself as open source and by doing so, casting a shadow on Apple. The competition between iOS and Android is important and Google is trying to portray Apple as closed and hoping to do so in a negative light. However, Apple makes a good argument and tries to reword the dilemma:

We think the open versus closed argument is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue, which is, “What’s best for the customer – fragmented versus integrated?” We think Android is very, very fragmented, and becoming more fragmented by the day. And as you know, Apple strives for the integrated model so that the user isn’t forced to be the systems integrator. We see tremendous value at having Apple, rather than our users, be the systems integrator. We think this a huge strength of our approach compared to Google’s: when selling the users who want their devices to just work, we believe that integrated will trump fragmented every time.

…So we are very committed to the integrated approach, no matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as “closed.” And we are confident that it will triumph over Google’s fragmented approach, no matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as “open.”

—Steve Jobs

Here, Apple tries to turn the tables and portray Google in the negative light. Apple’s version of vertical integration  is smart business. It means using Apple software and hardware in sync to create a seamless user experience. Apple claims that Android has already been ported to too many devices to allow integration.

 

Wait And See

It will be interesting to see where this battle of two tech giants goes. Will Apple be too restrictive in the future? Will they eliminate the very characteristics that made Safari and iOS so successful? Or will it be the case that the user experience is so simple and entertaining that everyone owns four Apple devices?