Matt HealeyWednesday,23 January 2013

The Snap:

Apple continues with its goal of making sure that once you buy any one of its products, that the company controls your entire online life. After all, when you buy an Apple device, you are not making a technology choice, you are joining a cult.

The Download:

This week, Apple removed 500px’s mobile apps from the iTunes store because Apple found it too easy to search for nude photos. 500px maintains that the photos are of an artistic and not pornographic nature, but does not deny that nude photos exist on the app. This is consistent with the arbitrary and capricious approach that Apple has to running its platform. The are in control of everything you do on the platform, with no exceptions. The trend started, as these things usually do, innocently enough. Adult themed apps were removed by Apple because they apparently offended the former cult leader — Steve Jobs. This was easy to sell to the public; after all, porn is evil and must be eradicated. Side note: It is this attitude towards women and sex that is at the heart of the current rape problems in India and the treatment of women in repressive cultures. Then the program began to expand. Books were on the chopping block at one time because Apple felt there were too many book apps. Regardless, given the past history, it is a fair question to ask would Apple remove or block “50 Shades of Grey” because it is considered pornographic? Then Apple expanded its reach again and started blocking Google apps, only because Google is a direct competitor. This blew up in Apple face when it turned out that its mapping software had, at best, a passing resemblance to the world. But the trend is clear. Apple wants total control over the entire platform and everything you do on it.

Generally, I do not like slippery slope arguments. I think they are lazy and tend to lead to hyperbole. The exception is when there has clearly been a pattern. This is the case with Apple. They have made several policy changes that demonstrate that they will be the final arbiter of what you can do online. I am uncomfortable with this arrangement especially since the apps that they are blocking are not illegal. They just violate what Apple thinks is acceptable behavior. Now, Apple does have the right to limit the apps on its app store. After all, it is Apple’s store and it can refuse to carry what ever product it wants. The problem comes when users have committed to the platform and then start finding that apps they want have been de-listed. With an open platform, like Google of Microsoft, you can download apps from a variety of app stores. If Google doesn’t have what you want, then try the Amazon app store. I suspect that as has been the case in the past with Apple, the closed ecosystem will eventually become a problem for the company.

Hat Tips:

500px, TechCrunch, The New York Times, Books, Maps, Amazon app store, Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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