Should Apple Share its Software?
October 18, 2010 Leave a comment
It’s interesting to see discussion that criticizes Apple for not releasing their software. Now I’m in no way a ShareWare/FreeWare expert. But some of the fallacies surrounding FreeWare seem pretty obvious.
One: There’s an implication that “Microsoft succeeded because it shared its code.” Really? It did? I don’t think so. If I remember right, Microsoft is paid for every unit that is sold with it’s proprietary operating system. What makes. Microsoft different from Apple is that it is primarily a software company where Apple is a systems company. So you would expect Microsoft to seek to put its software everywhere.
Two: “Offering your software to other people is the road to business success – profitability.” Let’s ask Sun Microsystems about how much profit they got from Java. Although Java penetrated the market thoroughly, it didn’t generate a big enough bottom line advantage for Sun to save the company.
Three: “What about Unix?” I love Unix and used to use it quite a lot. But you can’t compare Apple’s IOS with Unix. No one needed to profit from Unix because it came out of a government and university funded effort. Why don’t we check with Apple’s CFO to see if they’ve become government funded?
Four: “What about Android?” Now we arrive at the newest test of the theory that a public company’s best interest is maintained by publishing FreeWare (or ShareWare). Truth is, we can’t say how it’s going to turn out – Android is too new. But don’t confuse a plethora of Android handsets with success. Google’s ultimate win must include generating higher ad revenue because it published Android.
Scientists help each other to tremendous new discoveries by sharing what they know and learn. That’s important. (And, scientists also fight like tigers to protect things they believe will help them get ahead.)
So, maybe tech’s fascination with sharing got its start with scientific collegiality. More often I think it’s based on some ill considered utopian ideals.
Personally, I hope Apple doesn’t share. Love them or hate them, when you buy something with Apple software, you know exactly how it will work: the way Apple intended. And that’s what builds a strong brand and strong profits.
Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett