In reply to Jason Calacanis’s recent post entitled The case against Apple - in Five Parts - one of my coworkers asked for my input. What follows is my somewhat lengthy reply which I thought I would share with everyone.

Jason has some good arguments, but I think he’s essentially missing the precepts of Apple’s design (as I see it):

  • It has to be immensely intuitive and simple to use
  • It has to be a masterpiece of industrial design

Specifically looking at the case of the iPod, it does one thing (plays music) and does it well. There’s no need for it to do anything else, because they’re not aiming at that market - the product perfectly matches the (simple) set of requirements.

If you have different needs, there are still a ton of competing products out there to cater to your specific needs. This is almost a perfect example of a competitive market.

Also, if people are worried about their music and DRM/licensing - they should choose to buy it from a DRM-free location where they can download it. Actually come to think of it, Apple already offers DRM-free music from some labels. Don’t hate on them for not doing this originally, it’s a near certainty that they didn’t have the market power with the labels when they first launched.

With the iPhone the argument is pretty similar, however it’s important to note that Apple must do what they can to protect their investment. Part of the beauty of this product from a technical point of view, is that the software and hardware configurations are the same everywhere. It’s the same argument as with video game consoles, it works because the manufacturer puts things in place to make it easy for developers to deploy for it.

If Apple allowed a bajillion web browsers for example, what would happen when Opera is installed and is the default browsing app? Would other applications need to support launching Opera, would it just do it automatically? If so, can Opera handle all the iPhone specific display tags? It’s in their best interest to protect this investment, and to a certain point I can agree with the restricted platform - remembering that convergence be damned, its primary function is still being a telephone.

I think it’s laughable that people can make the argument that we’re headed towards an Apple monoculture - it’s not Apple’s responsibility to create competition, it’s the competitors who need to step up.

Further to this, have a look at what Apple’s innovation on the iPod and iPhone’s respective markets! Their product is setting new usability and design standards and injecting new and fresh ideas on how to make a simple mp3 player work better, and the number of yum-cha rip-offs reflect this.

In summary, I think it’s business as usual and from my perspective I don’t think Apple are doing anything inherently evil - in fact, I think we should congratulate them for bringing a brilliant product to market - their sales figures clearly indicate they’re doing something right.