Developers rage against Apple’s control freakery

Tech blogger, co-inventor of XML and former Sun Microsystems bigwig Tim Bray has joined Google’s Android team and served up a scathing attack on Apple’s, “sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers.”

How much does Tim dislike Apple’s control-freak approach to its iPhone? Check out his blog entry and feel the rage:

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.

I hate it.

I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient.

The big thing about the Web isn’t the technology, it’s that it’s the first-ever platform without a vendor (credit for first pointing this out goes to Dave Winer). From that follows almost everything that matters, and it matters a lot now, to a huge number of people. It’s the only kind of platform I want to help build.

Apple apparently thinks you can have the benefits of the Internet while at the same time controlling what programs can be run and what parts of the stack can be accessed and what developers can say to each other.

I think they’re wrong and see this job as a chance to help prove it.

The tragedy is that Apple builds some great open platforms; I’ve been a happy buyer of their computing systems for some years now and, despite my current irritation, will probably go on using them.

Another developer gets mightily miffed

It’s not just Bray who’s been expressing deep concern about Apple’s practices – self declared Apple fan and developer Ben Fry has railed against the company’s  insistence on approving each application.

Their policy of being the sole distributor of applications, and even worse, requiring approval on all applications, is insulting to developers. Even the people who have created Mac software for years are being told they can no longer be trusted.

I find it offensive on a very basic level, because I know that if such restrictions were in place when I was first learning to write software — mostly on Apple machines, no less — I would not have a career in the field. Or if we had to pay regular fees to become a developer, use only Apple-provided tools, and could release only approved software through an Apple store, things like the Processing project would not have happened. I can definitively say that any success that I’ve had has come from the ability to create what I want, the way that I want, and to be able to distribute it as I see fit, usually over the internet.

Fry goes on to make several well argued points about Apple’s moral censorship of apps – it’s well worth a read.

Tags: ,