When it comes to Apple Inc., it’s hard to find a gray area for discussion. People love them or hate them, although Apple fans are known to complain loudly about things that don’t work, or features that are lacking.
The real problems come from some of the critics, some of whom are so abysmally uninformed you wonder how they manage to keep jobs as alleged journalists. There used to be a respect for facts, or maybe I’m just getting a little too old for this sort of thing.
In any case, I recently read a curious blog entry from Europe where someone suggested that Apple was blocking Adobe Flash from their mobile platform strictly because of money. But defining that alleged income source is murky. Certainly it would be to Apple’s advantage if you could visit most every site on an iPhone or iPad and not see the telltale icon that Flash is required. Isn’t that something that would actually please Apple customers and maybe add a few?
It’s a sure thing that Flash-enabled games are nowhere as flexible or immersive as the ones you buy at the App Store, so I doubt that sales of the latter would be seriously hurt by the ability to access the former. Blocking the ability to convert Flash to iPhone apps isn’t a bad thing, since that scheme is notoriously inefficient. You get far better results using Apple’s own developer tools, and by being able to take advantage of all the platform’s great new features, there’s the added advantage of making the resulting apps more attractive to potential customers. That means more potential income for the developer. Don’t forget that Apple’s 30% cut strictly covers the cost of doing business and not much more.
So it would seem to me that the suggestion that Apple blocks Flash for financial reasons is utter nonsense. It happens to be quite true that the objections cited by Steve Jobs are right on the mark in just about every case. If Adobe wants to prove him wrong, they can simply demonstrate a reliable version of Flash running on an iPhone. We’re still waiting, and the window of opportunity is pretty much closed. Putting an obviously flawed Flash 1.1 on Android 2.2 isn’t going to change a thing.
The concerns about the lack of Flash are also connected to the oft-mentioned concerns about Apple’s tight mobile platform control. This weekend, for example, I received an email from a loyal listener to the tech show with the outrageous claim that Apple controls “and know what you buy, read, and access.”
Let’s parse this statement.
First, all online merchants keep records of customer purchases and preferences. That’s how they do business, so there’s nothing wrong with Apple knowing what you bought from them (and nobody else by the way), because they have a better picture of customer preferences. That’s how you keep the profits rolling in. It happens to be a good thing. A brick and mortar merchant also keeps customer records, even if some are handwritten, so they know how best to stock the shelves. What’s more, if you want Apple to live long and prosper, you have to expect they will use customer data in a responsible and productive fashion.
Indeed, how often have you heard about Apple losing or compromising customer information? So far as I know, it hasn’t happened, whereas it’s hard to know what Google was doing when they were caught sniffing unprotected Wi-Fi data. Do you really have reason to trust that Google — or such social networks as Face-book for that matter — will do the right thing to ensure your privacy?
As to controlling what you buy, with the App Store Apple acts in the same fashion as any vendor. They have the right to stock the products they want and refuse others. What about a Kroger’s supermarket, Best Buy, Wal-Mart or any other store? Don’t they have the right to pick and choose the merchandise they offer?
Yes, I realize that you have a choice of just one vendor with the App Store when it comes to iPhone, iPod touch or iPad software, but you also have the option not to do business with Apple. And nothing prevents you from going online and buying other merchandise from just about any company on the planet if that’s what you want. Apple isn’t keeping tabs on those purchases, nor do they care what you buy and from where. Of course, if you do something illegal, you may get caught by the authorities, but that’s not something that impacts Apple, unless, of course, what you do somehow victimizes Apple.
And, so far as I recall, Apple doesn’t stop me from visiting the sites I want for the same reason. Other than the lack of Flash, I can go most anywhere. All right, I will be warned about suspected phishing sites, but the same is true with any modern browser. Nothing wrong with that!
What’s more, the “Apple Police” never tell me what to write, even though they’ve been aware of my existence for nearly 20 years. They may not agree with what I say, but they know they can’t stop me from saying it.
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