At a very basic level Apple is considered to be closed because Apple likes full control over hardware and software. Open is supposed to win, because, well, you know, it’s open, and therefore, not closed (or something like that; I’m not totally sure anymore).
How Open Is Winning (and losing)
What does open mean? What does closed mean? And what are a few examples of each? Open isn’t just open source. Microsoft’s Windows is often considered open because it’s available on many devices from many manufacturers.
Apple’s OS X and iOS are often considered closed because Apple doesn’t allow either OS to be used or licensed on non-Apple devices.
So, as the story goes, open wins where closed loses. The open Windows defeated the closed Mac. Or, did it? None of the Windows PC manufacturers claims to be profiting from the openness of Windows. While Apple’s closed Mac is the margin-hogging darling of the tech industry in revenue and profits.
It seems that PC manufacturers with the open Windows only win in unit sales; not where it counts– profits (even less so if the closed iPad is tossed into the list).
Something seems to be wrong with the open always wins consortium of technocrats, bloggers, and technorati elite.
Let’s take a look at Android OS, which is often declared as open, and Apple’s iOS, which is often described as closed. Android– smartphone and tablet– is on more devices and sells in far greater numbers than iPhone or iPad, just as Windows outsold the Mac.
Open wins, and closed loses, right?
Except that the majority of profits among manufacturers in both industry segments belongs to Apple. Just how is it that closed is winning, and open is losing?
From my perspective, open is fragmented and troublesome to customers and users, while closed seems to work better, so much so that customers are willing to pay a little more to get more usage and a better experience.
Here’s another area where open is winning. Malware. Windows PC users suffered through a decade of dealing with hordes of malware, while Mac users remained mostly unscathed, adding to the improved user experience of the closed category.
What about Android OS? It’s common knowledge that iOS device users actually use their iPhones and iPads far more than similar devices running Android OS. The closed user experience seems to work better than the open user experience for actual masses of customers vs. the technorati elite.
The same holds true for mobile device malware. F-Secure’s Mobile Threat Report says Android OS devices account for 96-percent of the world’s mobile malware, while iOS devices account for 0.7-percent (less than one percent; mostly on jailbroken iPhones).
What’s going on? Isn’t open supposed to be winning?
It’s difficult enough for the technorati elite, Android fanboys, and tech pundits to agree on what exactly defines open and closed, but the all the math seems to favor Apple’s so-called closed approach.
Come to think of it, isn’t Linux considered to be open? How’s that working out on the PC desktop so far? It’s not. Why not? Because the open user experience is usually not as good as the closed user experience which more tightly integrates hardware, software, user experience, and ecosystem into a package that seems to work better, therefore, is worth a little extra.
Microsoft did Apple and the Mac a great favor by not plugging Windows’ holes and securing the OS for a better user experience. Fear, anger, and frustration can be a great motivator for a customer to choose a different product.
How is Android OS different than Windows of the past century (or, even the current century)? It’s not. Android devices are available on more products, from more manufacturers, who are more free to openly customize the OS.
Instead of an improved experience, Android OS breeds mostly lower quality applications, a market for fragmentation of the user experience, and a safe haven for malicious malware (including Google itself, if one counts their own personal usage and data as valuable– Google sure does, and maliciously takes whatever they want).
Oh, and save Samsung, Android OS hasn’t bred any profits for their manufacturing partners. Unless someone has a version of new math that also supplants reality and logic, please explain to me again how it is that open beats closed? I don’t see it.