Do we need openness for our toaster?

February 12, 2010

There has been some interesting discussion about Apple and iPad being closed. In many cases for Apple, I’d buy this argument, but regarding iPad being closed, I have to disagree. As I talked earlier, iPad is a gadget for non-techies. People who have been scared about the complexity of computers will be able to use it. So it is kind of like a toaster (a beautiful one, though) which is simple enough that every one understands. Do you care about what goes within a toaster or a microwave (unless you are in that feild)? They just work and that is all we care about. I put iPad under the same category. It just works, no crashes (thanks for not including Flash. It crashes my Safari EVERY day). It really doesn’t matter what goes within as long as it offers good value and is a pleasure to use.

Openness doesn’t always result in great end-user products. Look at many open source projects out there (I am talking about end-user products here, not server side marvels). How good is Linux? At the back-end, it is AWESOME. But for the end user, it is a pain in the rear. I’d put Android under the same category. It very much excites geeks, but is far from desirable, atleast to my taste (yes, I own an Android device but couldn’t use for more than a day).

This talk about not using a standard processor, not-replaceable battery etc…commmon. We are blaming Apple for creating a better product? Every single person who played with the iPad said it screams. Shouldn’t we blame other guys for not creating power efficient processors? We also blame them for closed AppStore etc. When Apple first said web apps will be the way to include third party apps on the iPhone, everyone panicked and asked Apple to open it up for developers. Two years and 140K apps later, we go back and scream that it is a closed platform and web apps are the way to go? That’s interesting.

For developers, I actually think iPhone/iPad platform is pretty open. Their APIs are pretty exhaustive and are improved constantly. I expect to see some innovative apps on the iPad. We have seen troubles with Android due to ‘openness’ (available in n devices, by m carriers with x number of screen sizes and y number of configurations). Android Market app sales talk for themselves. Contrast that with the iPhone App sales.

For end users, simplicity matters, a LOT. More than openness.

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