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Open or Closed

January 16, 2013 - Dave Hecei
originalI am finding it a little more difficult to look at where Apple is going and decide on what is in the cards in Cupertino (Apple’s home base). 2012 was, when taken as a whole, a pretty good year for Apple products. We got all new iPods and a taller/faster iPhone. Apple introduced a smaller iPad along with two ‘full-sized’ iPads (one in March and one in November). One of the bigger stories - Retina made its way to the MacBook Pros (the 15-inch first then the 13). And lastly, the iMac went supermodel thin.

But then I took another look back to 2012 and I also saw a disturbing trend. Apple is getting more closed. Apple is taking over your computer and mobile device.  They are also keeping you locked-in and ultimately controlled. This has been happening for a while now, starting way back with the iPod and iTunes Music Store. It ultimately went on to the iPhone and then iPad where Apple has complete control on what software is in the store and the store being the only place you can get software. If you buy an iDevice you must buy everything from Apple. If they don’t approve it then I guess you don’t need it.

This has started creeping into the Mac world. It has not fully taken over, but Apple has started taking control of software distribution for the Mac with the Mac App Store. Currently this is not the only place to buy and install Mac software, but there is that danger that in the future it could be. This is not to say that the Mac App Store is bad. I do like the idea of purchasing an App and then being able to download it again at any time without having to buy it all over again. If I get a new Mac, or just have to replace the hard drive, I can repopulate my Mac with all the software I’ve purchased from the Mac App Store. I’ve done this and it’s a massive time saver, and money saver.

Now take a look at the new Retina MacBook Pros and the new super-thin iMac. The design of these products are amazing to look at and amazing to use. However, they are sealed pretty tight. Repairing these models is not something that is trivial. Plus, there really is no upgrading for most of these latest models. Before you buy you really have to think of what you will need later, not what you need now. Will I want more RAM down the road, which is almost always answered YES.

I have to hand it to Apple since they are actually shipping models with enough RAM and storage in them. The first Intel iMac only came with 512MB of RAM – which was pretty worthless for anything but working on the Internet. The base iMac now comes with 8GB of RAM, but cannot be upgraded later on. For some reason the 27-inch model has an access panel to get to four RAM slots.

Personally, I love Macs and use several Mac models. I do not own anything from 2012 so I don’t have to worry too much about being locked in, or locked out, of upgrades or software limitations. I also am not running Lion or Mountain Lion as my main OS – yet. I have not updated my iPhone to iOS 6. Basically, I like living a year or two behind where I have more choices in what I can and cannot do. I do have Lion as a secondary boot drive on my desktop, and can actually boot into it on the laptop if I had to. This is mainly to learn the new OS but also to have access to the one program I have that requires it – iBooks Author. This is an amazing free program from Apple that allows you to create your own e-book titles to distribute yourself for free or to sell for profit on the Apple store, which in itself is another closed system if I want to sell an e-book I’ve created.

I’m hoping to see Apple continue to succeed in the years to come. It is a truly remarkable company with an equally remarkable story of success, near total collapse, and ultimate success. But I’d also like to see Apple start to embrace more open standards and practices.


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