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iWorry: Does the iPad Signal the End of the Era of Open Computing?

There's no doubt: The iPad is a beautiful, extremely well-designed device. So why am I worried?

The iPad runs the iPhone OS and uses the iTunes App Store. That means that it will have a large selection of applications ready to go when it hits the shelves in March, but it also means that Apple will be the sole source of the applications, deciding what can and what can't run on the device.

Lots of people dislike that aspect of the iPhone experience, but I can't say that I was terribly bothered by it. [...] But the iPad isn't a phone; it is a general purpose computer. It does email and Web and documents and presentations and games and all of the other kinds of things we do with our "regular" computers. Yet it will suffer under the same restrictions as the iPhone--prohibition of any application that Apple doesn't like, for whatever reason. Sometimes that means the application uses undocumented features, but startlingly often it just means "duplication of features"--the application does something that Apple's own software does, but does it differently. (This raises the uncomfortable question as to whether the Kindle app for the iPhone--which works quite nicely, actually--will run on the iPad.)

This is problematic to me for a couple of reasons. The first, and simplest, reason is that it narrows the scope of innovation. The main reason why the personal computer--including the Mac--served as a catalyst for economic and social transformation was that it was open to every imaginable use. The only limits came from hardware capacity and code complexity, not arbitrary restrictions. The iPad, as swoopy and neat as it may seem, won't trigger a similar revolution.

But this is just the iPad, right? So Apple wants to shoot itself in the innovation foot in order to maximize control. That doesn't affect my other machines. Right?

For now. The second reason this worries me is that successfully shifting one general purpose computer to a world of controlled software may lead to similar restrictions showing up on other kinds of general purpose hardware. I don't want to wake up one day and find that the next version of the Mac OS (or Windows, for that matter) will only run "approved" software.
Okay, slippery slope arguments always curve towards hyperbole, and I really don't think that the next version of any mainstream OS is going to be restricted like that. But the version after the next one?

原文出自Fast Company by Jamais Cascio


  • 正如林一峰話齋,閱讀,也是一種 state of mind。
  • 所以不限文字,還有聲音影像一切雜崩能東西,都在涉獵反思消化乾坤大挪移之列。
  • 看重的只有一個字:Insight


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