The peculiarities of Apple

Interesting article from Wired. Nothing mind-blowing or really unique, but a good overview of Apple and it’s uniqueness compared to other tech companies.

Perhaps, what’s more interesting is some of the comments against the article and author, Leander Kahney. The most scathing of which is probably here, where Kahney is deemed an “irredeemable jackass” by one, John Gruber. Unfortunately, some of the comments seem to be nitpicking and simply don’t hold up to scrutiny.

Is Apple “evil”, according to Google’s “don’t be evil” mantra? Well, Google doesn’t really have a definition for evil, and as such it’s such a flexible term that one could certainly say that closed platforms, authoritarian control, and less than stellar treatment of employees qualify as evil.

On open platforms, true neither Apple or Google are dogmatic, but the point is that Apple is unusually closed for what’s perceived by many as a very modern, forward-thinking, tech company, and closed-platforms are usually the default. Not initially opening the iPhone and iPod touch to developers (because of I believe security concerns?!), and even now with the very managed licensing process demonstrates this attitude. Google, on the other hand, does release APIs for a lot of their products (Google Desktop, Google Maps, etc.).

The whole contrast with Google isn’t that great, but it seems to be stretched out by Gruber more so than Kahey.

On secrecy, every company keeps a certain degree of secrecy, but the point is that Apple is unusually secretive about their products, as the case against Think Secret demonstrates, a site that most other companies would look at as a fan base hub and free advertising (hell, sony, payed to create a fictional fan-boy blogger evangelizing their product as a form of advertising). The mystery isn’t so much why apple took an adversarial position against Think Secret to protect its secrecy, but why Apple’s secrecy is worth so much, when secrecy seems to be worth far less for most other companies.

Overall, I didn’t find the article attempted to demonize Apple or that the author was trying to sell us his version of an ideal corporate entity. After all, Apple is very successful doing what it does and has positioned itself and one of the most innovative companies around. However, it is the perplexing case of an innovative and successful company, existing within a progressive/egalitarian ecosystem, that excels employing very non-progressive/non-egalitarian constructs.