Why you shouldn’t follow the Apple example

Now Richard Scoble knows more about this stuff than I ever will, but I disagree with his suggestion that Microsoft and other companies should learn from, and follow, the Steve Jobs approach to openness. Scoble is talking about PR, not technology so much, but I think that openness in the former follows from its adoption in the latter. Now I’m not going to argue that the iPhone has had great publicity, and that it looks very cool, but that doesn’t make Apple an example to follow. In fact, I think it proves they are the exception to the rule. Apple are the last great closed IT company. Look at the DRM monopoly they want to create around iTunes, the lock in with AT & T for the iPhone, the very literal closed nature of iPods and the iPhone so you can’t even replace the chuffing battery, the control over the OS, etc. The most open they get is allowing you to upload playlists to iTunes and their link up with that other bastion of openness, Nike.

Now this works for Apple because a) they have momentum, b) they have a quasi-religious following and c) they do know good design. But it would be commercial suicide for any other company to follow, including as Scoble suggests, Microsoft, because they only have a) from the previous list.

Just as IBM were large and successful but precisely not the model to follow when Apple started out, so any start up should pretty much avoid most of the Apple methodology.


  • AJ Cann

    This fanboy (http://tinyurl.com/327nfo) is going to have to take issue with a few points in your post about Robert Scoble’s comments.
    The last great closed IT company? Cough splutter! Err, have you ever heard of a company called Microsoft? Have you ever had the misfortune to encounter Windoze Genuine Advantage? Have you read about Apple rolling back DRM from iTunes as far as the music industry will let them (http://tinyurl.com/2pawhu)?
    Or have you fallen for Roberts Scoble’s low rent linkbaiting tactics on ths blog? 😉

  • Martin

    Right Alan, let the blog war begin! 🙂
    Yes, MS are as closed as Apple, but the reason I say Apple are the _last_ closed company is because I think MS’s time has already passed. Apple still create a genuine buzz and with iTunes are still at the forefront, so they’re still a great company. But no-one after them will be able to get away with their approach.
    Re. iTunes and DRM – not sure I buy it myself, sounds like an excuse to keep things in a proprietary Apple format to me, and Apple like proprietary as much as MS.
    What are Scoble’s low rent tactics BTW – if I know them then maybe I can use them. You know me, I’ll give anything a try.

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