HOWTO make an iPad that respects freedom

Danny O'Brien explains the simple step that Apple could take to make the iPad into a device that fosters unlimited innovation and freedom: 'Imagine an iPad. It's the same iPad, built by Jobs and Ives and the rest of Apple in absolute secrecy, beholden to no-one, built on proprietary MacOS and unicorns and last Xerox Silmaril's gleaming. It has the same Apple App store, same SDK, same no filing system, same no multitasking, same whatever. Only buried deep in the Settings, buried under "Battery Percentage", "Factory Reset", there's an option that says "Allow Third-Party Applications". Its default is not to allow that. But you can flip it to say "yes".' (Of course, if Apple did that, competing iStores might come around that offered developers and their customers a better deal)


  1. Well Cory, even though I share your feelings on the iPad, I think I’ll still have to get one based on the fact that Rob and Xeni would probably beat you in a fight.

  2. I think the real issue here is, that Apple has successfully created a business model that will no doubt be emulated by other companies.

    So while Cory gets ripped around the net for his stance on the ipad, it’s by really short-sighted people who cannot envision that long-term ramifications of Apple’s success.

    Apple has eliminated competition by creating a product that is surrounded by hype, good engineering and a press all to willing to promote it as the future. Can you imagine what will happen when other companies follow suit?

    1. Eric,

      That makes the assumption other companies *can* follow suit. Apple has been quietly grooming the market for a while. The magic button Mr. O’Brien wants is the power button on the MacBook Pro.

      We as technologists are so used to computers being hackable that not having that is quite a change. Who would the checkbox benefit? Not Apple, and that’s really all that matters.

      Thousands of computer professionals cheer this device because it means one less device they have to support their family with. I’ve long wanted a computer which is completely locked down to give to my family members who aren’t computer literate but still want to be able to access them internets.

      Apple can do this because they’re selling to a market segment that just doesn’t care about this stuff. I do. I’m glad Cory does. And, unless I’m mistaken, you can put whatever app you want on the iPad, just like you can do with your iPhone. You just need developer licenses. No, you can’t distribute them as easily, and no, it’s not convenient, and yes, you have to pay for the privilege. But it’s there.

    2. It’s already happening. MS Win Mobile 7 is shaping up to be a near identical clone of Apples recent locked-down device and app/media ecosystem strategy.

      Thanks Apple, you have actually managed to drag MS *down* to your level, the consumer will only suffer in the long run :(

  3. They have a system like this… it’s the jailbroken grey market. What’s nice about it is that people who aren’t technically proficient will shy away from it, and thus won’t ruin their expensive gear. Self policing: it just works.

  4. Why bury it under Battery Settings? Why not have free advertising for this theorized third-party app ecology in every forum, chatroom, and search result in the Apple iWorld? Why not give it a sexy, liberating name, too?

    Let’s call it jailbreaking.

  5. I think that Apple’s done something subtly brilliant here by not allowing 3rd party software, and it has nothing to do with software monopolies or pure greed or stifling innovation.

    Virtually every major software problem that arises on a device like this comes from the 3rd party software people install or the root-level changes they make. The iPad is an audacious idea: what if a company locked down a device, not allowing ANY 3rd party software or intrusions into the OS, including stuff like Flash? Could they essentially optimize a device’s speed, prevent tons of support calls, and avoid all the headaches they get from making sure the OS works with every 3rd part app by only allowing apps they approve, giving consumers a device that works way better than the competition’s will?

    It’s a quietly crazy experiment that gives Linux folks the hives, but might be the smartest thing about the iPad.

    1. It basically comes down to whether you think Apple can make better decisions about what you can do with your device than you can. For many people this isn’t that bad a proposition, because they will use the device exactly the way Apple tells them to.

      To be fair, if it is a locked down platform it is certainly more likely to be stable – that is exactly the same thing Apple does with it’s pc hardware and OS business. You only have to look at their pc business to see the outcomes of that policy (the pricing, the software available, etc). For many people, that compromise is simply unacceptable (especially in a product we are paying to own).

      Apple products offer a wonderful user experience provided you stay on the path and behind the gates – the minute you step off the reservation you immediately run into Apple branded roadblocks. I prefer to make my own decisions (even when there might be negative consequences to them), that’s why Apple and I don’t get along.

    2. You’re going to get dizzy if you keep spinning that hard. You can’t tell me that the leg shackles are good because they keep me from running into traffic.

      But hey, I’ve heard the iPad cures dizziness and massive trauma due to vehicle impact anyway.

  6. That’s funny… My phone, running Google Android, has that very same setting. As do/will most/all Android devices, including the upcoming iPad competitors.

    +1 for Google for “getting it.”

  7. It seems to me that the people getting all worked up about what Apple shoo,d do would be better served directing that energy towards doing something better than Apple and letting the market decide who they want to follow. You people are ‘makers’, yes? So stop whining and do what you claim to be good at.

    1. People criticizing products *is* the market deciding. You want Apple’s message to be the only message. In your heart, you are a censor.

    2. Deadbeef’s right; people like Cory are needed to provide information. It’s not “whining” any more than your post is whining. It’s input, opinion, and it’s valuable.

    3. Oh thanks for telling me and Cory and everyone else to stop voicing our opinion. You know instead of telling other people what to do maybe you should, stop and listen for a moment?

  8. No, Cory, it is a trade-off. You must to trade freedom for security. You can’t have both. ‘dems da rules!

    1. stability maybe – but security? that’s a mythical Apple hallmark. It’s always Apple products that go down first at hack competitions.

    2. Probably intentional, 0xdeadbeef, but what you’re saying reminds me of a pretty famous saying about those sacrificing freedom for security deserving neither.. Comparing iPod/Pad/Phone customers to those voting in favour of the Patriot Act e.t.c could be stretching it a bit far, but the similarities are definetely there.

      1. but the similarities are definetely there.

        if you’re an Apple shareholder then there is a tiny ring of similarity, otherwise his comments were puerile hyperbole in comparing where you spend you consumer dollars to the blood spilled by others so he’d have that choice.

        I too know that hyperbole is fun, but only effective when it’s done self-consciously.

  9. I’d be ok with Apple making the approval process much more transparent and reasonable. But this seems even less likely.

    1. THIS technology much less “computer languages” did not exist from Apple or anyone else25 years ago If they could work in a tuning eye like an old GE radio it would still be anachronistic,far ahead of it’s time.Kind of gives credit to “Corsos” argument that it sprang up full grown from a crashed flying saucer!

  10. Apple will never implement such a policy… it goes directly against their business model and need for stability/polish. Such an option will exist in the form of jailbreaking though.

    Those that want the safe experience provided by Apple will have it while those that want to work outside the system will have that option as well. That’s the beauty/horror of technology… nothing can ever truly be “locked down”.

  11. It will be interesting to see what happens in the market for these devices once there are viable competitors out there to the ipad. When the Android tablets hit the market, then we shall see if the open vs. closed ecosystems truly matter to purchasers, or if it is simply a non-issue.

    1. You’re average consumer won’t know or care until it’s too late. It’s incumbent on people like Cory to speak out and yet there’s plenty of people here who would like him not to.

      1. Don’t you mean ” it’s incumbent on Cory to impose his values upon other consumers” despite what the free market determines? Or do you mean ” consumers are dumb, therefore someone has to enlighten them as to the proper use of a computer”? Either way you are imposing your values upon others. No thanks.

        1. Or do you mean ” consumers are dumb, therefore someone has to enlighten them as to the proper use of a computer”?

          I’ve heard a lot of people saying that, but most of them were looking to Jobs rather than Cory. ;)

  12. Something makes me think that this is all just a sophisticated psychological strategy on Apple’s part.

    In a year or two’s time, they will release the iPad v.3.

    It will fix everything – install 3rd party apps, USB port, camera, multitasking..hell, even optional Flash.

    And then all the haters will be forced to come around, eat their shorts, say “I guess I was wrong. The iPad is the best thing since sliced bread.”

    And then, Apple will rule the world.

    Of course, I will still never buy one, because as has been pointed out by its design I still see it as something that is designed primarily for consuming information, not creating it. And who needs that?

    1. “…I still see it as something that is designed primarily for consuming information, not creating it. And who needs that?”


  13. >HOWTO make an iPad that respects freedom

    Simple, make sure Apple does not make it then.

    /end thread.

  14. It doesn’t even have to be an ability to install third-party binaries. Give all device owners a free XCode-like device that runs on the iPad, and they can compile their own code. If you want a third party app, fine. Download the source code, tweak it a little if you want, and compile it directly on the iPad. That gives developers and budding new programmers a way to test on their own devices before paying to join the App Store, and should qualm the fears from Apple and AT&T about malware sneaking in since the user-compiled apps are sandboxed and can’t infect other iPads.

    Apple really is becoming the BMW of computer makers: good hardware, a smooth ride, but woe to the owner who wants to replace a burnt-out headlight himself, or change the oil filter.

  15. Or you could invest the time and energy into making your own. But it would take away from the time you have to complain about Apple not being open enough for you to “create.”

    1. You’re asking too much. It’s so much easier to whine about the problem than to create a solution.

      As for 3rd party apps, that just opens the door to malware. How well has that worked for all you windows users that can just download an install stuff from all over the place?

      My favorite part is that Cory’s book “Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town” is in the iBook store for only $9.99. So he can call the iPad shit and make money off it at the same time! Brilliant!

      1. “As for 3rd party apps, that just opens the door to malware.”

        See, children? It’s a good thing that you don’t have freedom, you’d just abuse it. You jerks.

        1. There IS freedom. It’s called jailbraking your device. Do you give a child a loaded gun? No. They don’t get to have those. Do you give an adult a loaded gun? Sure, they’re responsible.

          Do you let all users of iPads download and install random, unfiltered crap? No. They could get hurt. But the people who understand the limiting nature of the iPad’s system/store can jailbrake their device and go nutty installing crap.

          So yea, it’s less free. And yea, it’d for your own good. And yea, you can hop over the wall and jailbrake your device and have full freedom.

          1. You do realize the ability to jailbreak is itself a security flaw and a possible vector for the installation of malware, do you not?

            There are thousands of reputable companies who are not on the App Store, and will never be, because of Apple’s terms and restrictions.

            I’d rather buy from them than from the sketchy grey market of “jailbreak” applications, all of which can go up in smoke with every OS update.

          2. People like you scare me. Thank goodness you and your ilk weren’t around at the start of computing.

            The iPad OS isn’t less free for your own protection. It’s less free so Apple doesn’t have to compete.

            You want to know who reviews apps for the app store? marketing, legal and business “experts.” Notice what is missing? Software/Engineering experts. They’re not looking at submitted apps for security flaws or malware they’re looking for apps that compete with their own apps, or could damage the “Apple brand.”

            No where will you find a guarantee from Apple saying that the apps in the app Store are free from malware/security threats.

          3. “People like you scare me.”

            Maximillian is deliberately overstating things with his “gun/baby” analogy, but the point is still valid. Apple’s made the first mass-market computer deliberately made to prevent folks from screwing it up, because honestly, most people screw their computers up and work on half-broken machines crippled by 3rd party malware and curse the manufacturers for a “slow computer”. The iPad prevents that. Does that scare you? Okay. Wait for the inevitable Linux/windows knockoff and have a ball. The iPad’s not made for you, and that’s okay.

          4. There IS freedom. It’s called jailbraking your device

            Apple is in court right now attempting to get jailbreaking declared illegal under the DMCA. Do you agree with them? Because it sounds like Apple’s own opinion on this is inconvenient for its own defenders. And if Apple is successful in having jailbreaking interpreted as illegal, then will people like you who point to a ghetto community walled off an squeezed as hard as Apple can, finally admit that exterminating that community is wrong, or will you then jump on that bandwagon and declare that jailbreaking was never necessary for Apple to be peachy kean, after all?

      2. “How well has that worked for all you windows users that can just download an install stuff from all over the place?”

        Open Source ftw.

      3. “How well has that worked for all you windows users that can just download an install stuff from all over the place?”

        Quite well, thank you very much.

        Open Source ftw.

  16. I seriously do not get this hullabaloo over third-party apps and the “locked” App Store. You know what, I can’t run homebrew or open-source software on my Xbox, either. Nor on my PS3, nor on my Wii. I can on my DS, because someone went through the trouble to engineer a flash-rom card for the purpose, but Nintendo is doing their best to stomp them into the ground and I don’t hear you complaining about that. The only applications I can run on these systems are those that the manufacturer has expressly permitted, just like Apple does with the App Store.

    And in point of fact, the App Store is incredibly more open than XBox or the others. Any dope can write an app, submit it, and probably get it accepted by Apple. I wish it were harder to get an app approved! I wish Apple would reject apps on the simple basis of “This is lame”, so that I didn’t have to wade through dozens of fart-noise generators and shitty pong games to find what I want. How many fart-noise generators are there on XBox Live Arcade? How many viruses are there on the Playstation Store?

    Stop thinking of the iPad as a computer. It simply isn’t, not in the sense of it being a device on which you can create things and do anything you want. It it a media consumption device, the same as the game consoles that have never, ever allowed you to run anything the manufacturer did not approve of. You know why they do that? So that the good apps, the ones worth seeing, don’t drown in a sea of goddamn fart-noise generators, viruses, and other assorted bullshit. So that the people who make content worth looking at get their fair share of the money, and consumers can be assured of getting software that is bug-free, won’t wreck their system, and of a certain minimum level of quality.

    If you want to be a rebel, a revolutionary, a hacker on the frontier, running all your own code on the iPad, fine! Jailbreak the damn thing. But stop friggin’ whining to Apple to do it for you, because they won’t, ever. They would be batshit crazy to do so.

    1. The difference (for me) is the ps3/Xbox 360 etc are *toys*. My phone is a generalized computing device, so is the purported iPad.

      If someone made an open Console gaming system that could actually get support from publishers and manage to enforce fair online play, I would buy one in a heartbeat.

    2. Correction: You CAN run third-party apps on your PS3. PS3 runs GNU/Linux natively. Install whatever you want, run whatever you want, as long as its compatible with your friendly Linux distro of choice.

      1. Actually with the most recent firmware release you lose the ability to install GNU/Linux, and if you don’t install the firmware you lose a lot of basic features such as access to the online store and backwards game compatibility.

        1. I see all of this as boiling the frog. First Apple got you used to being locked down on your phone, now they are going to get you used to being locked down on their “net-book”, and within two years you are going to see a locked-down OS-X with no ability to install anything except through an App store. Because, Apple will say, the iPhone and the iPad have proven this is what people want. And you know what? A lot of people will.

          Not that I am not saying there is anything wrong with those people – there are advantages to a locked down device with a tightly controlled software and content eco-system. It’s just not what I am interested in.

          Besides, I think that Apple is already in a place where they think they deserve a little slice of every software sale for their devices and I don’t see them not expanding that out to Macs eventually – the target market has already shown that they don’t mind it.

      2. Yes, but Sony removed the “Other OS” feature from the newer ones, so it is trickier to do it now.

  17. Doing this would require proper sandboxing. An OS without kernel extensions, without dangerous APIs, etc.

  18. I smell ‘Geek Fear’ – the worry that a computer for ordinary people undermines all those years spent learning the complex tasks required to use, admin and keep a computer safe in a hostile world.

    You’re free to keep on compiling your apps from source, but it would be nice if you acknowledged that it’s not a choice open to everyone.

  19. I don’t understand the problem.

    There are a ton of other tablets that are open and whatever, that’s old news (the fact that they stink isn’t Apple’s fault). Part of what makes the iPhone/Pad great stems from the boundaries and rules that Apple established… If you want to see exactly what happens otherwise, grab an Archos (tablet) or a Google phone (pick a flavor). They are fine, handy, utilitarian, and more open platforms. I have tried them and I constantly missed the thousand little touches that the culture of the iPhone OS ecosystem basically forces on the participant software vendors (to my benefit, even if not free).

    At the root though, I’m just surprised by people feeling the iPad takes away choice. You still have plenty of choice, just chose something else. Move along, nothing to see here.

  20. HP Slate minus Win7 plus a good cut of linux is the start here; but someone needs to get cracking on a touchscreen UI. Desktop operating systems are just pathetic on small touchscreen devices; if you think otherwise or imagine using a stylus, you gotta actually pick up an iPad and take a gander at the new.

    But the slate is looking kinda clunky, to me, especially the thought of having it run Windows 7 in the first place–an operating system whose fancy windowing widgetry isn’t always perfectly smooth even on the $1,500 Envy 13 laptop HP just sent in for review.

    The really interesting alternative to me is a portable Sony Dash. The current model, itself just out, runs the awesome linux-based Chumby OS — it is in fact the new Chumby, for all intents and purposes — but is otherwise built around the same user interface metaphors and all that jazz as the iPad. The problem, of course, is that it’s 2 inches thick and has to be plugged in, making it a sort of fancy alarm clock with apps. But if Sony can get it out at $200 as it is, surely it can make one a half-inch thick, give it a battery, and still keep the price in line with the iPad’s.

    I suppose I should mention the Joojoo, too. Yeah, but no.

  21. Actually, I do think JooJoo has some great potential uses (secondary display with benefits; status board; painless-install kiosks for bars and museums) but the reported quality compromises and sheer enormity of it make it seem a poor challenge to iPad as a personal portable thing.

  22. Is the freedom to buy apps from someone else really all that significant? The over-control of the App Store is disconcerting for iPhone and iPad users, but the prices are good and the quality is generally high – even stupid apps seem more or less well thought-out.

    Cory, I am surprised that you endorse such a minor change as one that “allows unlimited freedom.” Have I misconstrued your post – are you just throwing it out as an interesting opinion or do you really believe that to be true?

  23. Apologies for the tone of my previous post, that was rantier than it probably ought to have been. Seriously though, if you aren’t going to hassle Microsoft for not letting you run anything you want on the 360, then there’s no justification for doing it to Apple.

    1. rifflesby: Your point might have merit, but the XBox was a very bad example. Do I need to point out that Cory literally wrote a book about how much cooler an XBox is if the user can reprogram it?

      gobo: I can’t agree. Consuming information is the beginning of learning; the second step, and the easiest. Creating your own information – doing – is where all the real learning happens. There may well be ipad apps for drawing, or writing. But there won’t be an ipad app to learn how to make better ipad apps for drawing or writing.

  24. Agreed with Maximillian. A powerful netbook without malware seems like a great idea to me. Not sure why folks have this bizarre desire to hack something that’s designed to work well. I like tools that are made to work brilliantly without futzing with them at a root level.

    @ziodey: “I still see it as something that is designed primarily for consuming information, not creating it. And who needs that?” — Well, people who don’t like to be ignorant, for starters. Consuming information is how you learn. A device that excels at information consumption is invaluable. And considering the number of drawing and writing apps already available, I don’t think anyone will have trouble “creating information” on an iPad.

  25. A site full of makers crying that nobody is enabling them.

    Not unlike people crying that the Boingers should run their site a certain way.

    Build a better one,run it your own way. That’s USUALLY the esprit around here.

  26. It might be nice, but it isn’t going to happen.

    Apple’s lock on the iPad (and other i-devices) is there for several reasons.

    One, they get to control the user experience. They don’t want your shiny i-device to get wedged because some third-party app has gone off the reservation. The minute they allow third-party apps, users _will_ install something that does something it shouldn’t, and Apple _will_ get the blame when it locks your iPad solid and loses all your data. Steve don’t like that.

    Second, they prevent the iPad from becoming a new ecosystem for viruses and malware. See above: the second Apple allows unvetted third-party apps, users will run out and compromise their machines. Apple doesn’t want malware running loose on a machine that has all your personal data and an always-on 3G connection.

    (You could argue that a Macbook also has all your personal data and an always-on connection, but that ship has sailed. Apple can’t lock the personal computer platform now because people have certain expectations about what they can and can’t do with a computer, but Apple can lock the new platforms they create, so they do).

    (You could also argue that Apple should sandbox third-party apps. The trouble is that to sandbox third-party apps effectively would restrict their functionality so much that the “Free-my-iPad” crowd will still be dissatisfied).

    The third reason is commercial. With the AppStore model, Apple gets a cut of every application sold. It’s similar to the system used by game console makers, where every game has to be licensed by the console maker. I forget how much revenue Sony earned from Playstation game licensing, but it was something huge. Apple is not going to give up the opportunity to earn money from other people’s work. It’s basically a hardware-maker’s dream: you can’t always make money on the hardware, but setting things up so that you get a slice of everyone else’s profits will always work.

    I’ve tended to assume that the third reason was the big one, but it’s not absolutely certain. In theory, a free software developer could pay Apple for a developer license and then start filling the AppStore with free alternatives to commercial software. Apple might exercise their fiat to block these ‘competitors’ to the apps that bring them money, but they might not. If they don’t, then it’s possible that their determination to maintain a stranglehold on the iPad has more to do with reasons one and two than reason three.

  27. I’ve been watching this debate unfold via RSS, looking at both sides, and so far the Applefans are winning.

    As Gruber has pointed out there is nothing to stop you using Safari on iPad for everything you do, just stay in the browser and you’ve got all the freedom you want.

    For those that want native apps that run really fast on dedicated hardware and chips designed especially for those native apps then that’s an option too (you have the freedom to use them, or not).

    And you can jailbreak it. And you can open it with the right tools if you want to.

    The fact that developers can make a bit of cash in the ‘closed system’ of the Apple store means that the quality of the best selling apps is really high – and developers release great updates.

    The average open-source Android store app is crummy compared to Apple apps because developers have less incentive to continue to make awesome apps.

    Yes Apple is a bit closed, but that keeps the quality a bit higher, it may not live up the the ‘freedom’ rhetoric we all love to hear but, christ, when it comes to brass tacks, I know which platform I’d rather develop for. Apple aren’t just creating consumers… they’re creating a lively market supporting innovation within an (ever-widening) walled-garden.

    Sck t p.

  28. Lot’s of our staff here at work have iPhones, and we were thinking of developing an in-house app for monitoring some of our systems and handling some common events that happen to our machines. It’s not an app that we’d want made available to the public, and, given it’s nature, not something that Apple would be likely to approve for the AppStore. The ability to install 3rd-party apps on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad could have been a significant boon to us, but it’s not going to happen now.

    It’s possible that over time, given enough experience with such an app, that we could have made something that would be of interest to the cluster admin community, but we don’t have the resources to start out working on a general app. Yes, it’s true that we could all drop $99 to be allowed to install apps of our own choosing on our hardware, but that barrier has proved to be to high.

    1. @ Bill Barth – If you are truly wanting to develop and deploy an in-house app that could be a ‘significant boon’ to you, I am at a loss to understand how that is not worth a single $99 investment to be able to use the iPhone enterprise deployment across all your users at work. This has been a feature supported by Apple for the last 18 months.

      @ Michael Rose comment #46 – mostly dead-on comments, thanks for expressing the market drivers so succinctly. Don’t forget that Apple operates the App store at a break-even profitability level. They aren’t trying to make money on Apps, they are trying to sell hardware.

      1. You know what, Dustbag, I totally missed that feature. Thanks for the heads-up. We might just look into it now.

  29. Curiously, nobody seems to disagree with Cory about what Apple could do to foster freedom, just whether freedom itself is worthwhile. I guess he just has a more positive view of people at large than half the commenters here, who think it’s more important to protect them from themselves. No wonder political analogies keep coming up!

    Eric, though, pointed out the main issue: a successful iPad is likely to set the direction for the industry as a whole. “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it, but shut up” means we’ll have a whole lot of stuff not to buy in the future.

  30. I seriously don’t understand the ipad. Obviously I’m not the target audience. But I don’t see the point of the form factor. It’s too small to do any cool tabletop hacks (someone, I think on this site, once suggested it was a board game device; I don’t think so). Too big to put in my pocket like my phone. Small enough to be portable, but so is my laptop with its full keyboard and screen. What’s the point?

    That said, the android devices already have the option Cory suggested, and it’s a wonderful thing. It’s true, there are more good istore apps, but that’s because there are more iphone than android users, and that’ll change.

    1. Once I actually started thinking about how big my laptop is, I suddenly realized that it is, in fact, a serious pain in the ass to actually bring anywhere and have it be relatively not-annoying to people around me. It’s a beast, and it’s a 15″. I never use it on the train or bus, because it is inconvenient.

      I didn’t initially think that the iPad form factor was a good idea. After thinking about how I’d actually use it, I’m coming around.

      I think the reason for most of the worrying about it from free-access advocates/makers has more to do with a fear:

      “What if our answer to the iPad is relatively crappy?”

      If the closed system wins the battle for this market space*, what happens to the open-software ethos? It’s a pretty serious defeat.

      (*Whose existence hasn’t been proven, but I’m fairly confident that it will end up displacing laptops for places without easily-accessible tables)

  31. I ripped 12 of my favorite DVDs (that I own) with Handbrake and put them on my iPad. How is that not free (free as in ‘freedom”)?

    I have over 3,000 songs (only 6 came from iTMSs and will never be transfered to any other device, the rest came from my own CDs) installed on my iPad. How is that not free (free as in ‘freedom”)?

    I have about 2 dozen epub books – ALL from sources other than Apple – installed on my iPad without a hiccup of objection from iTunes or Apple. How is that not free (free as in ‘freedom”)?

    I have 70 apps – 45 free, 25 paid apps, the most expensive being $14.99 – installed, out of a possible 150,000+. Some are pretty basic, but most are beautifully crafted examples of the programmer’s art that not only don’t exist in the jailbroken, “open source” world, but are completely undreamt of in their philosophy. I don’t feel censored by Apple in any way, and I’ve never seen – and I’m pretty confident that I never will see – any app from outside Apple’s “walled garden” that would be worth “jailbreaking” my iPod Touch or my new iPad for… my choice. How is that not free (free as in ‘freedom”)?

    Finally, Safari on the iPad gives me access to the entire web – except for Flash, which I couldn’t care less about. Even on my iMac, I block ALL Flash and I choose to run them or not… 95% I choose not to. How is that not free (free as in ‘freedom”)?

    IMO, these open source “freedom” zealots are on the verge of becoming petty, doctrinaire oppressors themselves, and as an American consumer, I refuse to let them subject me to any ideological purity tests. The iPad is an appliance, a tool, a device… not a political statement. I’m happy with mine, and I didn’t sacrifice any freedom.

    1. Actually, Spunkhammer, your experience is an excellent depiction of the problem.

      I ripped 12 of my favorite DVDs (that I own) with Handbrake and put them on my iPad. How is that not free (free as in ‘freedom”)?

      It’s not Apple’s fault, but that’s rather a bad example of free as in freedom, because you’re actually just committed a crime under US law by bypassing the technical protection measures (TPM) on that DVD to make a copy for your own use.

      You can do that right now, because you have a Mac or PC which you could install Handbrake onto. There’s no way that you’d be able to use a program like that on a system designed as the iPad is — Apple would be liable for “trafficking” in a TPM, and would (completely understandably) refuse to permit such a program to be available on their app store.

      Right now, you can exercise your freedom because you are using computers that don’t work like iPads. But if we’re going to be selling a lot of iPads to the world, in the space previously occupied by open general purpose computers, why would you want to stop those people from having the freedom you currently enjoy?

      Of course, that’s a slightly inaccurate thing to say — they could always buy a Mac or PC to get access to that wider world of software. But the question I’m asking is, if all it takes for them to have that kind of freedom on their marvellous, revolutionary, magical iPad is a single option that allows non-Apple permitted software, and that that would protect them from ever being in a position where a government or another third party could make dangerous media or contentious software dissappear from their primary computing device, what is the argument *against* Apple doing that?

      I think the strongest argument is that by imposing these controls, Apple might prevent iPads being clogged up with software that diminishes Apple’s vision of how it should work. But I’d like everyone to have the opportunity — and yes, the responsibility — to choose their own software, because I’d rather people got to choose their definition of crummy, instead of losing that capability to a third-party that might not have all of interests at heart (or be susceptible to pressure from other parties who don’t).

      IMO, these open source “freedom” zealots are on the verge of becoming petty, doctrinaire oppressors themselves, and as an American consumer, I refuse to let them subject me to any ideological purity tests. The iPad is an appliance, a tool, a device… not a political statement. I’m happy with mine, and I didn’t sacrifice any freedom.

      Honestly, I don’t understand people raising the open source message canard here. Noone is insisting that the iPad be open source software — and of course it can run open source software just fine, as long as it passes Apple’s gatekeepers. As I said in my piece, a world with Steve Jobs and Richard Stallman (and hey, let’s throw in Steve Ballmer too) pursuing their own visions is a better world than just one or the other. But then, nobody is suggesting that the iPad be banned or RMS be run out of town.

      This is a much subtler debate than that, and I hope you find it revealing rather than just insulting.

      1. My experience isn’t an excellent depiction of the “problem;” there is no problem… my experience is an excellent depiction of reality: I did not buy my iPad to replace my desktop computer, I bought it to take my favorite movies, music, photos, books, web & email access and a lot of cool apps with me wherever I go, without having to lug a MacBook Pro around. That’s it. Where is the problem with that?

        1. I did not buy my iPad to replace my desktop computer, I bought it to take my favorite movies, music, photos, books, web & email access and a lot of cool apps with me wherever I go, without having to lug a MacBook Pro around. That’s it. Where is the problem with that?

          Did Cory say he had a problem with that? No, he didn’t. Go back and read what he said if you want a clue about what he perceives as the true problem with Apple’s closed operating system. Or continue to be obtuse, it’s up to you.

          Apple is acting more and more like Microsoft and many people don’t seem to care. Then again, Microsoft was acting like Microsoft for all these years and people lined up to get screwed by them too.

          I’m not sure what happened… maybe it’s been all the switchers, but many Apple users nowadays are becoming an embarrassment to me. There was a time when Apple users would have scoffed at Apple for throwing this new draconian approach to an operating system at us… but now they scoff at Cory? Seriously?

          WTF? If you are not a relatively recent switcher, I bet you tend to agree with Cory. If you are are a recent switcher finally now just joining the Apple bandwagon fray when it’s more popular to do so, I bet you are more likely to be criticizing Cory.

          I hope Apple’s marketshare shrinks again and all you wannabe switchers just go away. Apple is turning rotten and will continue to do so without a core group of users that demand MORE and BETTER from the company they give their money to (LIKE WE USED TO DO).

          Microsoft ran all over its consumers and became a giant, anticompetitive sloth because its consumers put up with it. Now here you are running to Apple’s products and acting the same way… and Apple will follow the Microsoft path and become sloth as well.

          Thank gawd for Ubuntu. I hope as you useless sheep consumers bring Apple down, Ubuntu will continue to rise up and I can get off this sinking, welded shut, ship before it’s too late.

          Look past your nose.

          1. Hey Cowicide, If you’d have brought that rambling, bitter, non sequitur of a post into the shop, I could’ve had it shortened and making sense in no time!

            BTW, yes, we are all waiting breathlessly for Ubuntu’s world domination. Any decade now.

          2. What can I say? I’m pissed! Well, I’m mildly upset… but that’s beside the point.

  32. The first thing I did with my friends ipad was download all the instruments I could find. Then I played music with my bandmates. It was satisfying and playable, as a musician I felt very excited and am looking forward to using the ipad as an instrument. Then I used brushs to make some paintings of my friends. As an artist I am very excited about using the ipad. I spent all night CREATING content. Not once did I even think to open iTunes or just passivly consume content, the ipad was too engaging. Then I thought about this create vs consume content debate. I create music or art everyday because I am an artist. Most people do not create every day, they are consumers. Consumer or creator of content? It’s up to you. It is not the ipads fault that you are watching family guy reruns. It’s your fault. Artists know that it’s not what you have it’s how you use it. You will see ipads on stage for the rest of your concert going young adulthood.

  33. Simpler solution (what I did)
    Get Fujitsu Stylus 5032D from eBay for $78 sans hard drive
    Buy $50 battery

    Install Ubuntu Karmic Koala as per:
    On 8 GB MicroSD mounted in an Elago nano reader (mounts flush)
    Install Comix, medibuntu and CellWriter

    I now have a 100% free pressure/direction sensitive stylus tablet w/ usb & card readers that will read and play anything and multitask. Oh and it has a daylight readable 12″ display! And the apps store (synaptic) has a single price: free!

  34. The problem with reasoning that the lockdown merely keeps those too inexperienced to jailbreak the device from wandering carelessly into danger is that, IIRC, Apple considers jailbreaking to be a violation of its copyright (under the DMCA).

    So I’m inclined to think that apple very much doesn’t want *anyone* to have unfettered access to his or her own property, regardless of their skill level, which leads me to conclude that the control is not old Steve being a benevolent paternalist, protecting the masses from themselves.

  35. Ah…the apologists keep apologizing for Apple, the haters keep hating, and the middle keep “middling”. Nothing has really changed has it….what I find interesting is that Apple basically got the biggest bang of PR and free advertising ever for a product in the history of recorded time…and it sold only 300K units. ‘Nuff said.

    1. “it sold only 300k units” — on just its first day, yes. And over 1 million apps. That’s phenomenal business.

      1. It did not sell 300K in one day, you are mistaken. 150K were pre-orders for an entire month before the release date. The rest were not even “sold” by strictest definition, they were shipped to vendors which does not mean they actually sold any of them (but of course they did sell many of those). For a regular product launch, I might consider this good. But when comparing to iPhone (one million sold on first weekend alone) and when considering the hyperbole and free advertising that made this a world wide event with incessant press coverage every day and by most all media (gushingly of course), I would consider that a disappointment.

        1. for someone speaking as a self-presented authority on Apples internal deliberations you’re awfully full of crap.

          Sorry to call you on it, but you’re making stuff up every bit as fast as the people you’re calling out for doing the same.

          1. Do tell exactly what is made up. I am very interested. Because I suspect we shall see that I am correct *or* that there is indeed documentation that reports whatever numbers/stories I am referring to (of which, their validity was presumed due to their credibility and source of information, but for which I would appreciate to know otherwise if false).

          2. Before Jobs “left” Apple, he was intent on the walled garden concept for his next OS as well. It was only after he “left” that Apple allowed freedom on the OS.

            citation please.

          3. Circa 1982-1985: Steve Job’s vision for the original Macintosh (of which it should be noted he took over only after being pushed out of the “Lisa” team because he was an asshole), was to create a proprietary and unexpandable information “appliance” (ala washing machine…his words, not mine). This is not even a question as history shows us that the first Mac was not expandable. It also was proprietary. Jobs wanted to prevent third parties (developers or otherwise) from adding to the Mac. If you doubt this, go look it up yourself. This also parallels the “i” product philosophy. When Jobs was eventually pushed out of Apple by John Sculley, Sculley put Jean Louis Gassee in charge of Product Development. Scully was the one that opened up the Mac. He wanted every Mac to be open, upgradeable, and expandable. His version of the Mac was the Mac II (1985) it was based on open standards and upgradeable. Of which, it should be noted, his was more successful that Jobs closed system that was not upgradeable, expandable and was based on proprietary technology/software.

            Some good resources for checking up on the authenticity of this are archives. If you google, you will also find references to Jobs and his desire for a closed system on The New York Time and Guardian. I gathered my ideas and posts from all those sources, but there is no single link as it is a compilation of reading.

            It should also be noted that I lived this period as a computer geek (80’s). I remember these people in the news and/or forefront of technology. Much of this information is common knowledge for those of us who remember.

  36. “Allow Third-Party Applications”

    Err, you do understand that this is total nonsense, right? There are tens of thousands of third-party applications for iPhone/iPad. What you mean is “Allow loading of applications from elsewhere than iTunes App Store”

    If Apple did something like this I would anticipate an immediate flood of whining from those that hate anything Apple do. After all it would show they were trying to take over the entire free software space. Or trying to make a way to blame ‘other’ software for all the problems users have. Or stamping on kittens – in 3D steampunk!

    Don’t like it? Don’t buy it.

  37. Apple has many reasons to lock down the iPad. Some are better than others. Some are certainly user-experience driven. Some are certainly profit driven. Both are perfectly reasonable for a company in Apple’s position.

    However, it is disingenuous to say that Apple is doing this purely to protect users from malware (or even to protect the purity of the user experience/ecosystem). Apple has taken steps to prevent the iPad owner from examining what’s going on inside — not just preventing an owner from changing things and potentially breaking them, but even just looking.

    Think back to when you were just starting to learn about web pages (or javascript or CSS), and you saw something neat and new on the web, and wanted to know how it was done. What did you do? You clicked on “View Source”.

    Apple has removed “View Source” from the version of Safari that’s on the iPad (and you’re not going to find a competing browser in the app store). That goes beyond stifling freedom and into stifling mere curiosity… and that’s very telling.

    The iPad is a neat device, extremely well executed. It’s a great new take on a thin client, and potentially a game-changer for online media of all sorts, but I really hope it’s not the future of computing.

      1. I’m aware of the bookmarklet, thanks. That wasn’t really my point.

        My point was that when Apple decided to disable this feature, they revealed some of their motivation for locking down the entire device. In this case, it’s not that they don’t want their users to break the thing, or to protect it from malware, it’s that Apple would prefer that users not look under to hood to see how the iPad is doing some of its magic.

        Personally, I think that’s unfortunate, especially on a device with such potential, and with a feature that’s been a standard on virtually every browser since the early days of http and html.

  38. Interesting that someone mentioned lock down on OSX. Before Jobs “left” Apple, he was intent on the walled garden concept for his next OS as well. It was only after he “left” that Apple allowed freedom on the OS.

    1. This video contains content from Constantin Film AG, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

      1. Hah, it’s probably bad for my sanity that I know from that alone that it’s a “Der Untergang” remix.

  39. Cory how about making Boing Boing’s servers as unsecured as you’re asking Apple to make their device. Heck at least the comments.

    I of course have confidence that the fine but occasionally overburdered editors at the Boing Boing Politburo won’t moderate this comment. Of course a certain amount of moderation saves us all from being deluged in spam and flamefests right? And if it were too egregious certainly The People’s Glorious Comment Army would march over to rival blogs.

    Remember kids, the second rule of Comment Club is that there are no obvious parallels to the App Store.

    1. The boing Boing servers, out of the box, are as insecure as Cory is asking the iPad to be. It’s only after they are purchased, and configured as the the purchaser desires that they attain the level of security that they have. The purcahser, not the seller get’s to decide how they will be configured. Your proposition is silly, though it does prove the point you are not trying to make..

  40. Yes, the “Add Third/Fourth-Party Apps” option would be nice.

    I haven’t read “The Paradox of Choice” so I wonder- if people knew that option was available, would they invariably choose to allow third party apps, even if they don’t use it? Even the people who easily be lured onto sketchy sites that self-install a malicious apps? (Oh no, we’re starting to tread into an antivirus app thread here).

    How about adding a slight barrier to entry for using third/fourth party apps? Maybe an option to buy a, let’s call it “jailbrakeable” iPad, or the iPad++? Sort of like the WRT54GL of iPads.

    Make it a totally different SKU, so if people start complaining about their crappy hardware (due to rouge apps), it doesn’t affect the reputation of the vanilla iPad.

    Yes, there’s the issue that it’s not just one SKU, but six- one for each vanilla model. It could be reduced to three if you forgo the 3G modem and require the user to hack his hardware (buy a wifi+3g model to cannibalize the module from), or just have the iPad++ only available in one premium model (unfortunately, making it more preferable for theft- except for the possibility of hidden tracking apps installed on the thing).

    The extra cost would nominally be to help offset the loss of revenue Apple may have had from not using the App Store, however, as with home pirates who actually buy more media than non-pirates, I suspect the App Store will actually have increased revenue.

    The problem here is a competing store, or -as with the Android market- trial versions on the app store and full versions directly from the maker. But, if as someone else has mentioned- the whole purpose of the App Store is to sell hardware, then competing app stores or other end runs around Apple shouldn’t diminish sales of hardware.

    The only issue with an iPad++ is that customs/copyright enforcement might be more inclined to hold it for further inspection if they think someone has TrueCrypt installed on it :)

  41. What would prevent some Corporation from building their own mobile device that takes in all the rejected apple apps? Surly if the rejected Apple apps are wanted or needed there ought to be a market for a device that includes them. Here’s an opportunity.
    Personally I’m hoping the Notion Ink ADAM is more than hype. Now there’s a mobile device to dream out.

  42. Personally, I agree with allowing third-party applications on the iPad and any other similar device, as long as the end user is aware that the applications could cause bad things to happen. I also feel that Apple and other companies marketing iPad-style devices should make their App Store approval processes faster and more transparent (and that, really, a handful of fart apps is quite enough, thankyouverymuch).

    What I don’t get is the anger. Heck, I’ll admit that I got into a fistfight in the third grade over Atari vs. Intellivision (talk about pointless–I didn’t have either one at the time!). Personal computing and media devices induce passion, even in me. Why? They’re just things. Jailbreak ’em. Pwn ’em. Demand better. Build better, if you can. Never stop learning and never stop applying.

    I’m disappointed in the iPad largely because I like devices with lots of connectivity and adaptability right out of the box. I don’t let that get me down, though, and even I’ll admit that this is still a device that will store and play tons of content on the go, and do so cleanly and slickly. That’s pretty cool at the end of the day, even if it could someday be done better.

  43. Better deal? HA. HA. HAHAHAHA…

    For developers, Apple actually has a really good deal going: they charge only $100/yr (which includes two tech-support issues, which is very expensive for Apple to provide), and they only charge 30% of the gross sales.

    No other app market or publisher I know of gives such a good deal short of actually being your own publisher.

    For users, Apple has a really good deal going in most cases: its very easy to use, well tuned, and they keep out a lot of abusive crap, since Apple is staking its own reputation on applications.

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