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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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April 5, 2010

iPad Does What the Cartel Dreams Of

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Produce a totally locked platform, with no legal way to download or produce your own content, modify it, claim ownership of anything on it, be totally dependent on the Father for every droplet of updating? Cartel's wet dream, and Steve Jobs has made it real. Cory's preaching to the choir, but he sings it so well.

Did I mention I bought a Droid for political reasons? Yeah, not getting an iPad either, even if they are trivial to jailbreak.

Comments (11) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Markets and Monopolies


COMMENTS

1. Sam on April 5, 2010 3:46 PM writes...

Great for you that you got a Droid for your "political" reasons. I read Cory's post and IMHO he has lost it here. Most people don't have his requirements for tech and don't want to fiddle with getting things to work. They just want it to work. Cory has no clue what the regular person wants or needs. And until now, Apple has been one of the very very few who have delivered on this. Yes, there are trade-offs to achieve this and that is what some consider a closed eco-system of components and apps. But you know what, millions and millions of people like this. And they are not just the masses of sheep. Tech savvy people also appreciate that a tech product actually works and delivers on what it says it will do without constant frustration and hassle.

And this is not a Cartel's wet dream because you do have choice - you don't have to buy an iPad or an iPhone (as in your case you have a Droid). The HP Slate will be out soon as will a myriad of other Windows or Android based tablets. And the competition is a good thing. My experience is that the Apple products will tend to be a better experience.

Permalink to Comment

2. DrWex on April 5, 2010 3:53 PM writes...

I don't think Cory has totally lost it (obviously). And I agree that the Maker community is small in comparison to the, say, Hulu consumer community. But I think the point about gated communities and such is spot on.

I think if you've read this blog for any time you'll see that I'm a big fan of a good user experience - it's what I do for a living after all. But guess what? I get a great experience from my Droid. I don't write apps, but the ones I got work awesomely well. The amount of hassle that I've avoided by using Google Nav in just the past two months has been worth the price of admission.

When there's competition there will probably also be an open pad computer of some manufacture and I'll consider getting one of those. But I won't support locked DRM-based environments no matter how much I appreciate the design aesthetic.

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3. zota on April 5, 2010 5:45 PM writes...

What do you use on the Droid to read books from major publishers?

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4. Evan on April 5, 2010 7:50 PM writes...

The "user experience" argument is a canard. The Macintosh development ecosystem is more than enough proof that the iPhone/iPod/iPad platform doesn't have to be locked down to deliver a superior user experience. Be it Steve Jobs own megalomania driving the platform direction, or Apple corporate culture as a whole sucumbing to the attraction of extracting rents from every possible interaction with their platform, the reason behind the "lockdown" is totally about money.

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5. zota on April 5, 2010 9:04 PM writes...

Look. I would really like to know what the options are for an open replacement for the ipad.

What are the free/open options for legally installing content from major publishers on the Droid? What existing open tools have an equivalent user experience?

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6. Jayel Aheram on April 5, 2010 9:27 PM writes...

As I have stated before, I have no problem with DRM.

It is the law that is the problem. It prevents legitimate owners from modifying their property and criminalizes that action.

It is not DRM that is the problem. It is the DMCA.

Permalink to Comment

7. Rob on April 5, 2010 10:25 PM writes...

This argument is getting so tired. There have always been closed platforms. Anyone ever played a Nintendo? Xbox? The iPad isn't a computer, and the whining geeks who endlessly insist that it needs to be a computer should go buy a crappy Windows netbook and shut the hell up. If you want one of the best user experiences around and one of the best selections of quality apps and content around, get an iPad. If you want to feel good about supporting an open platform, or you want root access or to run bittorrent or do endless tinkering, get something else. It's not rocket science. I have a laptop, and I have an Xbox, and I've never felt the need to complain that Microsoft has to approve the games on its console and all they're all DRM-protected. The iPad is an entertainment device, it's NOT a computer. And on top of that, I can play any video file or music file on it that I download off the internet, regardless of its legality. Almost anyone with the know-how can make an app for it, and ANYONE can make a web app for it. If you want it to be even MORE open, you can jailbreak it. OR, you can get a competing device, and SHUT THE HELL UP. People talk about the iPad like it's the end of computers as we know them. That's utter absurdity. There will always be real computers. If the iPad takes off because normal people don't want to mess with preference files and virus protection software, then good for Apple. Maybe a closed system is what people have been wanting. There will always be a place for the geeks and the tinkerers and the hackers and the professionals. But if my Mom and my little brother prefer the iPad, then why not let them? The endless geek whining only reads as jealousy that their open-source champions have never, ever, ever been able to create breathtaking hardware or intuitive user experiences the way Apple has. You want the market to move towards open platforms? Then quit bitching and create one that captures peoples' imagination the way Apple has been able to.

Permalink to Comment

8. DB on April 5, 2010 11:02 PM writes...

Oh BS. Doctorow is swaying feeble minds with emo-political rhetoric. What are you talking about, no way to produce your own content? This is a creative device. People will create art on this thing with software, made by other creatives. The biz model has sparked an entirely new stream of IP in software dev, at least as respectable as you Makers, with your painted bark with googly eyes. You don't get it: Apple, a company comprised of talented humans, *made* the iPad, just like you Makers make your steam punk olde tyme saving stands or WTF ever, but on a scale of sophistication you can't comprehend. It plays content you can buy, get for free, or create your own damn self if you like, and it's not hard, Wexelblat, you are just uninformed.

You know, sci-fi geeks like Doctorow have been waiting for the frickin' Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy for 30 years. Now it's here, and the guy is so blinded by stupid politics that he's afraid of it. And makes sure his website looks great on his new nemesis.

And what does his device have to do with copyright anyway, besides play copyrighted IP, or allow you to create your own copyrighted IP? Don't blame the damned device. If you can't handle the biz model, choose something else. Or start complaining about antitrust, which is where your issue probably belongs. Either that or just in the realm of fear and resentment.

Permalink to Comment

9. DrWex on April 6, 2010 11:30 AM writes...

I love that a short snippet on the iPad gets people riled up. Patenting human genes? Who cares, right.

@Evan
I don't think the user experience argument is a canard. A good user experience matters, and it drives people in ways that bad products will not. The question is whether the environment needs to be a locked box in order to get that good experience. I'm quite fond of the user experience of my Droid.

@zota
I think trying to read books on a little mini-screen is a terrible plan, but if you want to do that the most popular reader out there seems to be Aldiko (http://www.aldiko.com/). I haven't tried it myself, obviously.

@Rob
Did you watch the jailbreak video? The iPad pretty clearly is a computer, but even if it wasn't, what's your point? Is it bad that gaming consoles are closed boxes? Yes, but none of them have been positioned as replacements for general-purpose computers. Part of what makes the iPad so bad and so disappointing is that they had (have) the potential to be so much better.

I adore my Mac laptop in part because it's the first Unix machine that has a fully polished and easy desktop-type GUI on it. I love my various i-applications AND I love that I can just pull up a command line if need be. I love that I own that machine and everything on it, that I can install any browser and go to any Web site. The Mac computer line proves that Apple can make the same sort of polished, compelling, and delightful experience without shackling everything up in digital locks and restrictions. The fact that they chose to go another way is sad and wholly on point here.

Permalink to Comment

10. zota on April 6, 2010 12:27 PM writes...

So just to be clear, you're criticizing a device you haven't used, for applications you do not use, for purposes you do not engage in.

I'm not defending the ipad -- I haven't used one, and I dislike some of what I've heard about it. I'm just noting that in terms of the relative merits of this device for someone who wants to use it for things like reading or playing purchased content from a commercial publisher, your opinions have no basis in personal experience. Yet you shout them as a sermon.

You're also factually wrong on several points (Microsoft and Sony would dearly love their consoles to be thought of as media computers, you need a "real" computer to make apps for the ipad so it can't ever be a full replacement, there are legal ways to move any content onto the ipad outside of itunes...)

If you want to get people riled up, a sure fire formula is to shout your ungrounded, factually flawed opinions to the world about the hot topic of the minute. Nicely done.

Permalink to Comment

11. DrWex on April 7, 2010 8:30 AM writes...

Not exactly. I'm critiquing a set of corporate policy decisions (Apple's in re the iPad) and I'm suggesting that as a matter of personal preference I wouldn't read books on my Droid but people clearly do that so bully for them (and you if you want to do that).

I'm well aware that MS and Sony (and every other console or "home entertainment system" maker) would like their consoles thought of as replacements for the general-purpose computer on which people can watch media content via providers such as Netflix and Hulu. That doesn't make them general purpose computers. I can't load World of Warcraft on my XBox 360, nor can I play my AAC-format iTunes music downloads nor can I do my taxes nor can I read my Gmail et cetera.

Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg and console manufacturers who think that their media-locked machines are going to replace desktop computers are a long way from realizing that vision. Saying I'm "factually wrong" is a nice rhetorical flourish but it's not backed up by actual use.

I'm also amused by the notion that somehow a four-sentence squib with no emphasis in punctuation or text markers is somehow "shouting." Perhaps you could stop mourning your gored sacred cow long enough to read what I actually wrote.

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