Openness? No Thanks, I’ll Have An iPad
Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 28 January 2010
After month’s of speculation the iPad was announced yesterday And after a day in which many Twitterers were responding to Steve Jobs’ announcement today we say the headlines in the press. The main photograph on the front page of The Daily Telegraph featured Steve Jobs with Apple’s latest creation and in an unusual display of agreement the technology correspondents of The Telegraph and The Guardian were in broad agreement: Claudine Beaumont, The Telegraph’s technology editor described how her ”first impressions of the device are largely positive. Apple has once again built a product that looks good and feels great in the hand, and the familiar user interface, borrowed from the iPhone and iPod touch, is perfectly suited to the bigger screen“. Meanwhile Bobbie Johnson, the Guardian technology correspondent felt that “For anyone who loves new technology, getting the first touch of a new Apple device is a little like laying hands on the Shroud of Turin, or seeing a unicorn: the first experience of a mythical object imbued with miraculous properties“.
We are now starting to see the blogging community giving their views. One of the first I saw was from Chris Sexton, IT Services director at the University of Sheffield. Her thoughts can be summarised in a few words “yes, I am lusting to get my hands on one”.
So it’s a feel winner for the sector, then. And we can start to make plans for how we can exploit the potential of this device when the early adopters bring it into work and, a later date, how we can provide insitutional support for the device.
Or should we? The Case against the iPad was made in a blog post by Timothy B Lee. Although Timothy is an Apple fan he is opposed to the closed nature of the iPad, in particular the app store which must be used to download new applications: ”The store is an unnecessary bottleneck in the app development process that limits the functionality of iPhone applications and discourages developers from adopting the platform. Apple has apparently chosen to extend this policy—as opposed to the more open Mac OS X policy—to the iPad.“
I made a similar point in a post on “This Year’s Technology That Has Blown Me Away” in which I compared the open environment of the HTC Magic phone and the Android operating system with the closed nature of the iPhone.
However the post, which summarised a talk I gave at a Bathcamp meeting last year, was a tongue-in-cheek commentary of the Android device which has many flaws – I use my iPod Touch whenever a WiFi network is available and only use my Android phone if I have to use the 3G network (or need to make a phone call).
So although I’m not a regular Apple user I do find my iPod Touch a great device which I use every day – andI also recently bought a second hand iMac which I now use as my main machine at home (and which I’m using to write this post). And I can understand the reasons why Chris Sexton is lusting after the iPad and appreciate the similar reactions which I have come across from various techies at work and on Twitter.
And yet these tend to be the same people who talk about openness and open source. Perhaps those words are just used as code when seeking to knock Microsoft and aren’t meant to be applied as general principles. Or they might be felt to be regarded as important in an institutional context but are not felt to be relevant for personal choices. But what does this mean to the users; those who aren’t early adopters but may feel that comments about openness, open standards and open source are used to suppress use choice?