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The Apple Paradox, Closed Culture & Free-Thinking Fans

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the don't-question-jesus dept.

Apple 945

waderoush writes "The secrecy surrounding the expected Apple tablet computer is only the latest example of the company's famously closed and controlling culture. Yet millions of designers, musicians, and other creative professionals love their Apple products, and the Apple brand is almost synonymous with free-thinking creativity. How can a company whose philosophy of information sharing is so at odds with that of most of its customers be so successful? This Xconomy essay explores three possible explanations. 1) Closed innovation, overseen by a guiding genius like Steve Jobs, may be the only way to build such coherent, compelling products. 2) Apple's hardware turns out to be more 'open' than the company intended — Jobs originally wanted to keep third-party apps off the iPhone, for example. 3) Related to #1: customers are pragmatic about quality, and the open source and free software movements haven't produced anything remotely as useful as Mac OS X and the iPhone."

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945 comments

I'm off-duty (2, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889228)

This time one of you other guys is going to have to make the "Apple=Gay" jokes.

Re:I'm off-duty (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889364)

It's no joke.

Re:I'm off-duty (0, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889612)

Which is why I can't really understand the endless Windows vs Linux fighting here on slashdot. We have spend all this time fighting and completely forgot to laugh at how stupid Mac OS X users are.

Re:I'm off-duty (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889380)

Actually, there is some correlation between creativity and homosexuality; you'll find a larger percentage of gays in art school than studying any other discipline.

But the disparity TFS speaks of isn't real. You don't buy a computer because of its culture, you buy it because it serves you purposes better than other brands. For a long time, Apple made the only computers that you could do art on; the Mac was graphic when DOS was text-only.

Re:I'm off-duty (0, Troll)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889422)

You don't buy a computer because of its culture...

That's right. You buy an MP3 player or phone for its culture, duh! ;p

Re:I'm off-duty (3, Insightful)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889498)

Just because you are in art school doesn't mean you're creative or a good artist. I'd bet money that there is the same percentage of shitty gay artists as straight ones in a given school.

Re:I'm off-duty (1)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889626)

So there is 50% gay and 50% straight students?

Re:I'm off-duty (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889528)

I don't want to start a conspiracy theory or anything, but I have a cousin who only turned bender AFTER he bought an iphone and mac book.

Coincidence or causation? Has anyone checked the iphone source code for back-doors?

Re:I'm off-duty (4, Insightful)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889638)

Or perhaps there are simply more openly gay people in the arts?

Re:I'm off-duty (1)

LikwidCirkel (1542097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889672)

going to art school != being creative

Re:I'm off-duty (5, Informative)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889680)

Actually, there is some correlation between creativity and homosexuality; you'll find a larger percentage of gays in art school than studying any other discipline

I took some art courses working on an undergrad Fine Arts program at 2 different colleges and I didn't see an unusually high number of gay students. I honestly don't know what you're talking about. I suspect you're peddling bullshit stereotypes you picked up from watching some lousy TV sitcoms.

Free-thinking? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889250)

This is probably the first time in history a cult has been described as "free-thinking"......

Re:Free-thinking? (5, Insightful)

DinZy (513280) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889336)

I agree. This is absurd. I take it the blurb was written by a cult member.

Re:Free-thinking? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889546)

Full Ack.

Most people I know have Macs are extreme fanboys. You can't even argue with them - they also defent DRM when it's made by Apple.

It's a bad development when even some tech people are more affected by marketing (the term 'propaganda' may be more accurate in Apples case) than by technical details.

Not sure in USA but in Spain... (2, Informative)

viraltus (1102365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889256)

Mac users are bought by those that want to distinguish themselves from the rest in terms of money or social class, more in the lines of "I can afford an Mac and you are a poor blue collar bastard"

Re:Not sure in USA but in Spain... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889302)

same in Ireland

Re:Not sure in USA but in Spain... (3, Funny)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889608)

I want to buy a mac because I'm a geek and have never used MacOS. Then again I've never used it because I'd rather pay off my house...

Re:Not sure in USA but in Spain... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889654)

Or maybe some people actually like using Mac OS X. Go back to your football and your toros, idiot.

I'll give you a reason. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889260)

Because Apple, and OS X suck slightly less than Microsoft's offerings.

Incorrect premise (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889266)

I would argue that most Apple fanboys (the real hardcore ones anyway) only THINK they're "free-thinking." They're original and free-thinking in the same way that hippies thought they were original and free-thinking in the 60's--by acting, dressing, and thinking like every other hippie. Real free-thinkers don't start out with an set ideology, and they certainly don't have a cult leader or product line that they worship.

Re:Incorrect premise (5, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889314)

Further the notion that "the Apple brand is almost synonymous with free-thinking creativity" is about a decade out of date.

I spend most of my days in various professional recording studios video production houses and you see a lot fewer Macs than you used to.

Re:Incorrect premise (5, Interesting)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889386)

I spend most of my days in various professional recording studios video production houses and you see a lot fewer Macs than you used to.

Funny, all the IT professionals and programmers I meet seem to be using MacBooks these days.

Re:Incorrect premise (0)

stiggle (649614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889488)

Thats because Apple gets you to use a Mac to develop iPhone apps and nearly all developers have a sideline of making iPhone apps.

Re:Incorrect premise (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889606)

Thats because Apple gets you to use a Mac to develop iPhone apps and nearly all developers have a sideline of making iPhone apps.

Nearly all developers have a sideline of making iPhone apps? WTF?

Did you just pull that factoid out of your ass?

I've been a developer for over 20 years, and yes, I use a MacBook (and an iMac) but I have no intention or interest in writing iPhone apps - thank you!

Re:Incorrect premise (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889678)

if android really takes off (and it seems to be starting that roll around now, given the number of devices coming out), that may change, as the dev environment is java based and so can be run on top of just about anything that can handle a java VM.

Re:Incorrect premise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889584)

>Funny, all the IT professionals and programmers I meet seem to be using MacBooks these days.

Yep. I hit my late 20s had kids. My wife got spyware on my Windows box, yes had the latest and greatest AV/ASW protection. Spent hours backing up etc then to have my son kill the laptop by pulling on the cord and it falling. Tried Ubuntu, not bad but still a hassle esp. if the HW didn't have a linux native driver. Everytime I update the kernel wireless broke. UGH. My wife took some media classes for her masters. Needed Adobe so we got a Mini. That was the easiest thing since sliced bread it worked etc...

Got a macbook myself. Since Apple uses x86 cpus. I can run Linux and WIndows through a VM or natively. I use a VM. But most things I use OS X. I don't spend time maintaining our machines, they just work.

Apple does have Open Source tool in OS X. It owns CUPS. Apple uses some Open and some Closed. I am now in my 30s and don't care to screw with computers to get what I need done after working on them 8+ hours.

Re:Incorrect premise (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889614)

I spend most of my days in various professional recording studios video production houses and you see a lot fewer Macs than you used to.

Funny, all the IT professionals and programmers I meet seem to be using MacBooks these days.

Which is entirely irrelevant. I'm an "IT Professional and programmer" and I carry a Thinkpad. Why? Because it's the best option for me, in order to best accomplish the tasks I set myself. Look, nobody is arguing that Apple's products have a lot going for them, so there's no need for you to defend them. What is being discussed is whether or not individuals who are part of a cult-like self-reinforcing hivemind can be considered "freethinking". Personally, I don't think so. If you're someone who rationally evaluated his or her computing requirements, looking at all the options, and then settled on a Mac as the best answer, well, bully for you. Like I said, Apple makes nice stuff. If, on the other hand, you simply bought a Mac because, in your view, there can be no other option, well ... as a child your parents must have given you mental blocks for Christmas. There is a world of computing beyond Apple Computer's current product line.

Re:Incorrect premise (0, Offtopic)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889620)

I switched to a Powerbook because it meant I'd never have to do work on it. I used it for contacts, music, photos, lifestyle things, sometimes writing.

I like the way the Mac just works, when I open it I can get straight onto my task without wasting time fiddling with updating a driver or all the other crap I do on the PC.

I'm a programmer.

Re:Incorrect premise (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889636)

probably because one have a terminal and compile on hand that do not stink.

imo, and i am probably going to be voted troll for this, osx is basically a DE on top of a *nix core.

as such, the DE, for most IT pro's, are there to hold multiple virtual terminals in view, most likely running ssh sessions to servers and displaying status updates.

Re:Incorrect premise (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889644)

Funny, all the IT professionals and programmers I meet seem to be using MacBooks these days.

That's true, it's a great client for a Unix admin. You have your standard Unix tools available, and you have your commercial productivity apps for paper pushing as well. It makes a convenient package. The last time I went to a Sun seminar, at least a third of the attendees were carrying Macbooks.

Re:Incorrect premise (1, Insightful)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889318)

And that's why Linux fanboys (the real hardcore ones anyway) are all incredibly unique. You have to meet them all; just meeting one or two doesn't do justice to the rest of the worshippers.

Re:Incorrect premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889660)

What, you mean there's more than two people using Linux?

Re:Incorrect premise (2, Insightful)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889402)

I would argue that most Apple fanboys (the real hardcore ones anyway) only THINK they're "free-thinking." They're original and free-thinking in the same way that hippies thought they were original and free-thinking in the 60's--by acting, dressing, and thinking like every other hippie. Real free-thinkers don't start out with an set ideology, and they certainly don't have a cult leader or product line that they worship.

They are more "West Side Story" than West Side. They are like the Dolce and Gabbana "Punk" t-shirt that costs 120.00 and says "Wash on gentle".

Re:Incorrect premise (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889410)

Real free-thinkers don't start out with an set ideology, and they certainly don't have a cult leader or product line that they worship.

From the summary:

the Apple brand is almost synonymous with free-thinking creativity.

I think what the article was trying to say is that it's as close to 'free-thinking' as one can get when describing a company or product line. You are painfully correct in that this is a ridiculous use of words but if you think back to Apple's marketing past and present, I think you'd agree that the company sought to enter the market by appealing to people who need something to feel different. And they did and that's why it's 'almost synonymous' and not equivalent. I almost appreciate the fact that they use 'free-thinking' because that title is almost always self appointed ... whether it be to imply that everyone else is 'jailed' but you or the simple fact that no one but yourself can truly know what you are thinking so to describe how you think, only you are the de facto expert.

The funny thing is that every music studio (of five) that I've been in hinge on Mac hardware and Mac software. It's hilariously uniform. Sometimes they even have the same model of Mac with the same (ProTools) hardware and software setup. The 'free-thinking' and creativity comes from what the people do with it and not the fact that they are going against the grain in a hardware and software manner.

Apple purchase = future exclusive purchases (1)

MessyBlob (1191033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889470)

The 'Apple way' for media gadgets is that you buy their hardware (no hardware cloning), and buy everything for it through them, so they have part of the revenue pie. It is not in their interests to open up their architecture. As such, the argument is not about choice of functionality, but of customers being wowed into buying the product, and then finding themselves OK (or not) with the exclusive media channels, which limits the functionality of their limited-rights purchases. There's one thing that has not yet been locked down: ordinary software for the computers - is that next?

Decoupling of product and user (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889586)

I'd argue that the "free-thinking" aspect comes from Apple's somewhat paradoxical "white box" branding.

Let's start with design. Their products are as faceless and devoid of nonfunctional design features as possible with the exception of the Apple logo (so you have a disk drive, but not one shaped like an alien's face) and consequently the product design is rather decoupled from the user. An Alienware laptop projects a certain image, and consequently Alienware laptop users are going to disproportionately be adolescent male gamers, regardless of the hardware's usefulness as a workstation for making scientific visualisations. An Apple laptop, by virtue of being a big featureless slab of whatever it's made out of, could be used by anyone.

Similarly the OS, hardware and so on are heavily abstracted to make it easier for the user to get on with what they're doing. It's basically a box which does some computer stuff, and if all goes well you don't need an awareness that you're using eighty yottabytes of hyper-RAM and a BMX derivative OS. All that stuff is thrown to the background in much the same way that the case design is made as bare as possible. As a result, things like hacking the OS etc. don't really enter your mind. There are apps, you run them, you get things done... ideally the software ecosystem is such that you never have to tinker around and realise that you're using a platform that's locked down.

Now, this also goes into their corporate image, and this is where it gets really tricky. Their corporate image is the products. You are to think about the processes which went into them as little as possible. This is part of why they crack down on leaks so much. Ideally, they want you to think of the product alone. So naturally, the fact that it's probably made in some poorly-paid factory in China doesn't enter your mind. That's maybe not as true with a Microsoft-carrying machine, where you think of the Microsoft corporate entity and so on.

Essentially, the stink of corporate is less obvious in Apple's products because they put a big fat cloaking device on the corporation. That means that self-described free thinkers, who are likely to be anti-establishment, and thus anti-corporate, and thus repelled by something with an MS logo, go with them by default.

Re:Incorrect premise (2, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889684)

One must also somewhat define what "free-thinking" means in this context. Consider:

1. Apple keeps their development process very secretive, so that they can release a product to much fanfare. (As compared to FOSS, where the entire process is usually open to scrutiny.) If you think about creative people like artists and musicians, many of them follow this exact same pattern: they toil in secrecy, not divulging any details of what they're working on, so that they can release a piece and shock/awe/inspire people. For some kinds of art, being aware of the creation process would disrupt enjoyment of the art itself. In this sense, the development style of Apple is very much inline with what many artists are accustomed to. Of course, some artists do not develop in secret... but within the "creative community" as a whole, this is at least a normal development mode.

2. One can then think about how tightly controlled the thing is after it is released to the public. Again it's worth noting that a great many of the creative professionals who use and evangelize Apple products are just as controlling about their products as Apple is. Many artists believe strongly in copyright, for instance, and want it to be expanded. They want control over their ideas and their products. They decry those who pervert their work by, e.g., sampling it. Again, not all artists are like this... but enough are like this that one cannot really claim that "creative people" are universally supportive of freely exchanging data/information/art...

3. "Free-thinking" as it relates to "different from the norm" or "thinking outside the box" is something that Apple does fairly well. They are willing and able to start their own trends. Of course, as others have pointing out, this isn't nearly as "non-conformist" as some seem to believe. Apple is not really breaking all conventional rules. Rather they are creating a new style/sub-culture. Similarly many "free-thinking" types are creative and come up with great ideas... but that doesn't mean that they truly buck all trends and social norms. Like everyone else, they try to find like-minded people and form a social group with them.

4. At the end of the day, most "free-thinkers" and "creative types" are just as pragmatic (and non-idealistic) as anyone else. They use Apple products because they like the functionality and image that go along with those products. Many of the best tools (hardware and software) work with Apple computers and on Mac OS X, so it's a natural choice to work with that platform, which of course perpetuates the justification for the next generation. I highly doubt that many of the users of Apple products spend much time wondering whether the company's ethos truly reflects their personal views on intellectual freedom.

Free-thinking? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889272)

Most of the "free-thinkers" who buy Apple products are just hipsters who think it's cool to be different, not people with genuinely "free-thinking" or radical minds.

Re:Free-thinking? (0, Troll)

DinZy (513280) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889398)

They are not being different. As soon as they own an Apple product they tend to go out of their way to stick it in people's faces to show them how awesome it is. I.e. they do exactly what the last douchebag they saw with an Apple product did.

Help! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889278)

I accidentally ejaculated on my iPhone's touch screen while reading the summary. Does the warranty cover that?

I guess Apple did all that themselves... (5, Insightful)

Mark19960 (539856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889282)

"customers are pragmatic about quality, and the open source and free software movements haven't produced anything remotely as useful as Mac OS X and the iPhone."

No.. they just created what runs on the them, that's all..
Meh.

Re:I guess Apple did all that themselves... (4, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889532)

For those who still don't get it after that slightly cryptic jab, the linked article is bullshit because most of what isn't GUI polish in OS X, including WebKit and BSD, is open source.

So the open source and free software movements created Mac OS X, which also runs the iPhone.

That said, the Apple ecosystem is marketed as if it was embraced by freedom lovers, this doesn't actually reflect the user base.

Re:I guess Apple did all that themselves... (3, Funny)

stiggle (649614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889540)

You have to wonder which KoolAid fountain they were drinking from when they wrote that line....

The core components of Mac OSX & the iPhone OS are taken from open source.

Re:I guess Apple did all that themselves... (2, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889670)

No.. they just created what runs on the them, that's all..
Meh.

Err, not entirely... OSX came primarily out of NeXTStep [lowendmac.com] .

Re:I guess Apple did all that themselves... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889682)

"customers are pragmatic about quality, and the open source and free software movements haven't produced anything remotely as useful as Mac OS X and the iPhone."

No.. they just created what runs on the them, that's all.. Meh.

Yeah. And let's not forget that Mac OS X and the iPhone run a Unix variant under the hood. I mean, it's not like Apple didn't play off the work of others. Plus which, it's people who are "pragmatic" about quality that run Windows ... it's people who are fanatic about a particular kind of quality that use Macs.

Me, I just want my operating system (whatever it is) to reliably run my applications. How's that for pragmatism?

What Works... (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889290)

Eventually wins out in spite of competitive statements and advertising.

If it does NOT work, then the excuses start.

Why surprised. (1, Insightful)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889292)

FOSS is built on top of a closed ecosystem: I'm not aware of many Intel or AMD cpus being FOSS.

Re:Why surprised. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889458)

Of course CPUs aren't FOSS - they're hardware, not software.

FOSS (5, Insightful)

littlefoo (704485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889316)

"the open source and free software movements haven't produced anything remotely as useful as ... the iPhone"

I'm not sure whether this is due to the difficulty getting make and gcc to construct things out of plastic, metal and semi-conductors - or a lack of configure options...

If *only* there were a freely available OS to us on phones that wasn't from Apple - hmmm

Re:FOSS (0)

velen (1198819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889344)

Android called to let you know that despite the hype, it is trying to appease too many mobile operators with vested interests.

Re:FOSS (1)

littlefoo (704485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889676)

I forgot to add the closing fake irony tag in my post obviously....

Re:FOSS (4, Informative)

pydev (1683904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889412)

If *only* there were a freely available OS to us on phones that wasn't from Apple - hmmm

Most of Apple's iPhone and desktop OS is FOSS anyway: the Mach kernel, BSD libraries, the gcc compiler and runtime, and tons more.

Nice Troll (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889326)

the open source and free software movements haven't produced anything remotely as useful as Mac OS X and the iPhone

Many users of Android, Linux, and many other open source products might have some serious disagreements with that statement.

Re:Nice Troll (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889350)

You forgot to mention Mac OS X and iPhone.

Wait, what?

Re:Nice Troll (1, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889496)

Tell them to try it. I'm talking from personal experience. Linux fanatic for ~10 years, then I bought a Mac, with the "if this OS X doesn't work out for me, I can always install Linux on it" thought in the back of my mind.

Guess what, I now have 3 Macs in my home and 0 Linux computers. My servers still run Linux, but for a desktop, Gnome, KDE and everything else has about 20 years in user interface design before it comes close. Gimmicks and visuals isn't what it's about, that's just the icing on the cake and icing without cake just doesn't cut it.

Re:Nice Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889658)

The main problem linux (not the kernel, but the whole package) is that its display model (X) is way outdated... MacOS on the other hand has Quartz, which is superior in terms of design and performance.

Fourth option... (5, Insightful)

theascended (1228810) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889328)

Apple products are trendy and artisans aren't the social outcasts and special snow flakes they think they are.

status of shiny white thingys (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889332)

Seriously though, my college aged daughter says the PC we sent off to school with is not good enough. She _needs_ an Mac. When asked why she can't say specifically why a Mac would be a better choice other than "everyone" has one. It's the way the product has been marketed - as a tool for the elite or more discriminating user. Translation, status symbol.

Re:status of shiny white thingys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889420)

>When asked why she can't say specifically why a Mac would be a better choice other than "everyone" has one.

Quite possible. However, as an IT guy I use a Mac and I have far less issues getting things done. Plus if its in the arts or design it maybe the standard and having a PC could be a disadvantage.

Re:status of shiny white thingys (3, Insightful)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889656)

So as soon as she makes enough money working to afford the difference between an affordable PC and that Mac she can buy one.

Fourth Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889340)

Mac users are stupid.

AAPL reality check (3, Insightful)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889352)

The difference between Apple and say Microsoft, has been that Apple is more like a smooth Vegas hooker taking your money and Microsoft has been more like a crackhead in Atlantic City using a lead pipe.

Apple, as a publicly traded company, only has one obligation: to make a profit for shareholders. That means doing things like closing off Darwin for developers and totally locking down the App Store to only provide apps friendly to Apple, then they will do it and from a business perspective rightfully so. Of course I'm still gonna break my iPhone because I don't care about five apps on the App Store that make my iphone a flashlight. I need tethering and even more useful apps like blacklisting SMS messages and phone numbers that call me who I don't care for.

Apple does and gets away with a lot of things that /.'ers get their panties in a wad about when other companies do it. Proprietary formats anyone? Remember how when Microsoft does it it's bad? Apple = good, Microsoft = bad. It's not that simple and it's naive to think it is.

That being said, I only use Apple products. Apple makes products that work. That's all I ever wanted from my computer and cell phone. They do it, I'm fine with their business and Steve Jobs deserves all the zillions he's worth. Actually making products that work and listening to your customers forgives a LOT.

Re:AAPL reality check (1, Insightful)

Mark19960 (539856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889456)

I haven't seen a whole lot of listening from Apple in many years.
All they do over there is make white things that start with 'I' that are nothing more than glorified Dell computers.
Apple is the new Microsoft.... and Steve Jobs is jealous of Bill, that's what he is after.

not about creativity (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889356)

buying apple products is not about creativity (how many different products do they have anyway)

Lesson: Apple marketing i working! (4, Insightful)

pydev (1683904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889362)

and the Apple brand is almost synonymous with free-thinking creativity

Yes, just like cigarettes make you healthy and slim, alcohol makes you attractive to the opposite sex, junk food makes you popular, and Nikes turn you into a long distance runner, weight lifter, and all-around bad-boy. Branding is great, isn't it? Of course, it has nothing to do with reality.

Repeat after me, Mac users: "we're all different".

Related to #1: customers are pragmatic about quality, and the open source and free software movements haven't produced anything remotely as useful as Mac OS X and the iPhone.

Funny, I think Apple has never produced anything remotely as useful as the open source software movement, in particular given that probably the majority of the code Apple ships with OS X is derived from other people's open source projects to begin with.

Re:Lesson: Apple marketing i working! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889652)

If members of the opposite sex have had enough alchohol then you may be more attractive to them.

Re:Lesson: Apple marketing i working! (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889686)

...in particular given that probably the majority of the code Apple ships with OS X is derived from other people's open source projects to begin with.

I love how you say that they've done this with an undertone of contempt when, in reality, doing this is a big part the open source movement's philosophy. Not to mention that Apple has given back an enormous amount to the open source community.

Anything! Remotely! (1)

GnuPooh (696143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889376)

Why do this Apple fan boys always have to oversell their point. Exaggeration is the best way to destroy your credibility. I could have been fine with "free software movements haven't produced products as compelling as...". That would have been a fine strong statement and something most people could accept, but no. This person had to add "anything" and "remotely". So lame.

How... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889378)

...can a company whose philosophy of information sharing is so at odds with that of most of its customers be so successful?

Because Apple's products function primarily as a status symbol for people who have schemed enough money to be openly computer illiterate.

It's number 3 (5, Interesting)

Medieval_Gnome (250212) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889382)

From my perspective, getting an Apple laptop is the easiest way to get a nice, portable laptop which runs a Unix system (which, with MacPorts, I can get all the unixy goodness) AND to make sure that the hardware is guaranteed to work. I don't need to worry about whether the new kernel broke support for ndiswrapper, I don't need to worry about the regressions in hardware support that have hit my Linuxy friends, and I have a GUI that gets as close as I've seen to the DWIM pattern.

And I have a scriptable GUI. Say what you will about its syntax, AppleScript allows some wonderful scripting possibilities. And you can call out to a shell script, so it's also powerful :)

Useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889384)

"customers are pragmatic about quality, and the open source and free software movements haven't produced anything remotely as useful as Mac OS X and the iPhone."
Funny thing is Mac OS X is based on Open BSD. I guess OS X isn't useful then.

Re:Useful? (2, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889556)

... and Safari is a pretty thin wrapper around WebKit.

OSS's "remotely useful" contributions just keep cropping up.

"Creatives Types" (2, Insightful)

Eravau (12435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889390)

Just because someone is "free-thinking" and creative in making art, graphics design, music and so on... doesn't mean they are programmers or anyone who would want to hack their computer. Their computer, and Macs specifically, make it easy for them to be creative in their area of focus without having to worry about which dll conflicts with which other one... whether the right glibc is compiled for their favorite software tool... etc. It's nice because it doesn't require one to "be creative" with the computer just to "be creative" in the area one actually _wants_ to be creative with. At the same time, OS X has made it possible to be "more creative" with the computer if you want too.

Err, what? (2, Insightful)

garg0yle (208225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889396)

"the open source and free software movements haven't produced anything remotely as useful as Mac OS X"

This would be the Mac OS X which is based on FreeBSD?

Designed to stay out of your way (4, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889406)

My personal opinion is that the main reason a lot of creative (both "artsy" types and developers) like Apple's products is because the user interface and the physical products are designed to, as they say, Just work. This includes staying out of your way and letting you get to work but also to not pull the "Microsoft approach" to user friendliness by renaming things to make them "easier". There's a reason the market for customization of the look and feel of OS X is a lot smaller than the market for similar products for Windows.

Of course, there are several reasons why this works for Apple, a couple of these are partially because they have full control over the hardware and operating system which allows for tight integration and coupled with this are the development tools and the user interface guidelines. Another influence which I think is major is that third party developers know that Apple's customers generally expect software to behave in a certain way, something which isn't true to the same extent with Windows and other *nix systems. An example of this would be drag and drop, if a Windows application fails to handle drag and drop properly most people just dismiss the error message, restart the app and think nothing of it, after all, drag and drop is generally hit or miss with Windows apps, if an app for OS X failed to handle drag and drop properly most likely users would complain and consider it a screwup on the developer's part.

So part of the reason is the centralized control from Apple and part of the reason is that users have come to expect little to no user interface issues which forces Apple to make good development tools and developers to put in extra effort to make sure things work.

/Mikael

Option 4 (4, Insightful)

aitala (111068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889408)

4) Slashdot readers and contributors are on the geeky, bleeding edge and do not represent 90% of the population, most of whom could not care less about 'openness'.

Eric

Apple the computer for the rest of us... (1)

daveb1 (1678608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889424)

Whatever happened to "Apple the computer for the rest of us..."

Technology that gets out of the way (1)

bigdweeb (204273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889426)

I think creative types like Macs because they know it's technology that will more or less work. They know they can go into a store, buy one system/OS from the same vendor that was designed specifically to work together so they don't have to waste calories figuring the thing out. It gets out of the way so they can continue being creative. They now have the added bonus of having branded stores that they can go into if they really have a problem.

The rest of the hangers on to that culture get to be associated with creative thinkers even if they're just listening to music and surfing the web

OS/FS has produced N900 (1)

madsen (17668) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889432)

If you love your iPhoney there is nothing that I can say that will change you're mind, it's the stockholm syndrome. I was close to getting one myself, but then Nokia released the N900 which, without having open hardware, is as a very open phone. After this I won't get a new phone unless I can open a terminal, do some apt-get'ting and ssh into it!

Apple sells hardware (3, Interesting)

dwheeler (321049) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889436)

Apple is primarily a *hardware* company - it sells Macs and iPhones, which are physical devices. Yes, it has to write software to make that hardware useful, but the software is intentionally not sold separately... you can only get the software by getting the hardware. So comparing Apple to software organizations misses the point... they're not really doing the same thing. Also, there's a lot of OSS inside the Mac (e.g., much of FreeBSD), so even if you look at the software, it's not either/or.

The statement "haven't produced anything remotely as useful" is also nonsense. Let's see, how about the Internet, including TCP/IP and DNS? Web servers? As far as end-user products, Android phones (including Droid) and the XO are certainly useful. OSS has produced lots of useful things.

wrong assumptions (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889444)

How can a company whose philosophy of information sharing is so at odds with that of most of its customers be so successful?

Really? The first thing you should always question is your assumptions. Does Apple have a "philosophy of information sharing" and if so, what is it?

The company is secretive about upcoming, not-yet-available products. Which is not information that customers require in their day-to-day work anyways. As a user or as a developer, it is information about the current, existing products that you need most. And as both I've always found that to be readily available whenever I needed it.

So how does a philosophy of "not talking (much) about unreleased ideas" merge with the mindset of a designer, artist, programmer or any other kind of creative person? Quite well. A lot of creative people don't talk (much) about their work-in-progress, either, until it's finished. Programmers are about the only kind who feel that putting a half-finished thing out for the public is the thing to do.

Subjectivity presented as fact (4, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889454)

From TFA:

The programs people are inspired to write for the Mac OS X operating system are routinely more elegant and useful and less annoying than their Windows counterparts.

Quite the claim! Yet there are no examples.

I own a Mac. I've not installed much extra software on it. But what I have installed appears very similar to its Windows equivalent.

So can anyone give an example of what he's talking about?

I guess iLife should be showcase software for Mac.
  - iPhoto is a confusing mess compared to Picasa
  - GarageBand has some pretty neat amp simulation software in it. But the UI is the opposite of intuitive.
  - iTunes is clumsy and inconsistent. I've been using it for over 5 years on Windows and Mac, and it still throws me curveballs.
  - I once put together a slideshow in iMovie. I still don't know what was going on.
  - iDVD is pretty easy to use. But that's because it's basically a wizard.

Missing the point (1)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889466)

The real reason that Apple is so closed-off is because they want to stay unique, or at least appear to be unique. Jobs probably fears that Apple will become just another "beige box" maker just like the company was becoming when he first returned to it. It's a decent strategy. It protects them against copy cats so by the time the competition brings out similar products, Apple's already gained a stranglehold on the market. It also gets a good buzz going about what the "next big thing" from Apple is. Contrast that with Microsoft, who prefer to be ubiquitous.

Of course, Apple's strategy has its caveats. Just ask its suppliers, who have to keep their lips sealed or lose their accounts...

How about good industrial design? (1)

Xenious (24845) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889478)

They don't neglect to build visually stunning and usable objects. Yes the secrecy gets annoying, but on the flip side finding out about some new product and then finding out it will launch in two years is pretty annoying as well.

Nonsense (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889480)

Related to #1: customers are pragmatic about quality, and the open source and free software movements haven't produced anything remotely as useful as Mac OS X and the iPhone.

Sure, where useful == high profile cult following. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to spend the next eight hours working on my current project, which is developing yet another product for my Fortune 500 employer on top of an entirely open source stack. Call me when the iPhone starts letting me pay my daughter's college tuition, would you?

There is no Paradox only flawed reasoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889484)

Many creatives think exactly like Steve Jobs. The end product looks less like genius if you show the incremental process. Most "designers, musicians, and creative professionals" don't go around showing off half finished work, they hide what they have until it is done so they can get the maximum "wow" effect by revealing a finished project that comes to seemingly come out of nowhere.

Alternate Definition Of Freedom 0 (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889486)

Perhaps fans of Apple products consider usability and "Just Works" to be an Essential Software Freedom and likewise consider any software with a bad UI that requires lots of fiddling to work to be "closed" to them.

Of course, one would have to be a free thinker to accept such a heretical idea.

Steve Jobs Fanboy Worship Alert... (1)

netsharc (195805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889494)

Actually I'm quite amazed at Steve Jobs. He brought the era of desktop computing to the masses, and when they kicked him out of his own company, he founded NeXT and built an OS so good there that the company that kicked him out asked him to return, with said OS in hand, that would be further developed as OS X. How did he not suffer second system syndrome and still manage to ship something so polished? It's more of a management skill I guess, and perhaps of designing a system so forward-looking, it is simple to improve.

But Systems 8 and 9 were quite the pain for end-users, and perhaps an expulsion of a good team from Apple, plus money, to make whatever they want, was the best idea, because otherwise they would be stuck trying to make their legacy OSes modern.

Simple reason for being tight lipped (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889502)

It gets them press. The tighter they keep it, the more everyone buzzes over the next product. Every tech site on the web could burst out with their "predictions" but until Apple announces it, it isn't golden. And the end result is weeks and weeks of people talking and spreading the word.

I went to visit my wife's family two states away this weekend and they all couldn't wait to talk to me about the coming apple tablet this week because they hadn't seen me since Christmas and know I love Apple. I'd say Apple's plan is working.

Confusing two groups as one (1)

LS (57954) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889508)

The "free thinking" group, artists, musicians, and the like are using the best tools available for their endeavor. It's not about free-thinking. That's like saying an artist is closed minded because his paint brush was made by south-east asian slaves. The "fan boy cult" group, geeks and the like, are not necessary the same set of people. No contradiction here people, move along.

Not the software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889514)

Open or closed software doesn't matter that is not the point. The creative works are not the software itself but what is produced using the software. So as long you can buy software that works and can export your creations freely it does not matter if the software itself is closed.

It is product's quality, stupid (0, Flamebait)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889516)

Apple's products are well designed and work. That, apparently, is the key to their popularity.

On contrast, Microsoft's offerings were crappy — and that fact, rather than their being "closed" or anti-competitive, is why we hated them and the company.

BTW, nowadays Windows seems to suck much less and so newer generations have much hostility towards Microsoft — despite their remaining just as closed and anti-competitive as they were before.

Re:It is product's quality, stupid (1)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889600)

... and so newer generations have much hostility towards Microsoft ...

much less hostility. Darn...

It's not so much about "free thinking" (2, Interesting)

dushkin (965522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889542)

More like about "screw the BS, here's a quality product."

While I do admire a lot of FOSS projects (for instance Firefox, Adium, Python) I also find that a lot of them just don't stack up to Apple in terms of features.

For instance from the perspective of a graphic designer. OS X has probably the best font smoothing I've seen on any screen. I cringe when I have to use Windows at work. X11 doesn't compare either.

What if I bring a new fancy printer to my ad agency office (or whatever workplace that uses macs)? I know I don't have to go machine by machine and install fancy drivers - because they're all there. I never once had to install any printer drivers on any OS X system. (There's probably an exception if we're talking about highly specialized printers, but I have no experience with those)

Even as a "standard" user. I know my digital camera can just hook up to the computer with "that cable" and I can download pictures to "that program" and do fancy stuff with them with a drag and drop interface or even make pretty websites mom can visit with this iWeb thing. I don't like iWeb, but I've seen a lot of people using it and all they know is some word processing.

Even the more advanced users have something for them. Just last night I quickly created a python script to take text from the command line arguments, string them together and put them in title caps. I made that into a service using automator (call it via shell script) and used System Preferences to bind it to Ctrl-Shift-T. So now whenever I select text and do that keystroke, I get text in title caps.

Speaking of this Automator thing, I wish I could use it at work. I have an excel report I have to prepare on a daily basis for several clients. I made a script at home that I can drag a file on to and it attaches that file to an email, types my standard greeting, puts the correct addresses and puts the date in the subject line. I end up doing that manually at work simply because Outlook/Excel suck at this stuff.

Actually, if my corp's ERP system ran on a Mac, I'd probably bring my laptop... Or maybe I'll virtualize it?

Reminds me of a B-School Case study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889564)

Presumably, Apple wants the device to be part of the larger ecosystem it’s building around digital content—music, movies, TV shows, apps, and soon books and magazines,..

In the cap class - Strategy - we had a case study about Apple. This was 2004 and the iPod was in full swing. Anyway, the case study by Harvard, no less, was pretty much damning about the PC industry's commodity status, and especially about Apple's over priced commodity hardware and an operating system that was "perceived" to be better than Windows.

I argued the point of something like what Apple is doing now and their work station and computers would keep a high end niche business. The professor asked rhetorically, "In the PC industry?"

Before I could elaborate, this fan girl started to light in to the professor about how "superior" Mac OS was and blah blah blah and when she was forced to us it over Windows, that's when she discovered how superior it was.

The professor then said, "So, you had to be forced to use Apple's products." and continued to spank the fangirl f over the fact that Apple cannot continue to be a viable company in the PC industry.

I wanted to say that is correct BUT they will make their PCs part of an entertainment and computing product family that will be integrated ....basically what Apple is doing now - only Apple did it much better than I could even have imagined.

I'm an Apple business fanboy. I don't use their products but I sure do admire their business sense.

Are Apple products that useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30889596)

I mean the Iphone is entertaining, but is it really that useful? And what's with all the articles that talk about tablets becoming the next big boom. Is there something other than industry hopes that is so?

Unwarranted Assumptions (4, Insightful)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889610)

Somebody has conflated the kind of "free-thinking creativity" of artists, designers, etc. with the kind of free-thinking of the open software movement. "free thinking" to an artist means the freedom to create her own vision without interference by anyone else, not freedom to collaborate on or elaborate someone else's vision. This artist's "free-thinking" often looks more like the Jobs method of top-down control than like the open-source movement's wide-distribution collaboration philosophy. Which isn't to say that artists never collaborate, of course.

How is this a paradox? (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889662)

I don't understand how this is a paradox.

It's all explained pretty well by Adam Curtis (2, Interesting)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30889668)

in Century of The Self. [youtube.com] This is an amazing documentary that makes me question the motives of everyone trying to sell me something. I only started watching it two days ago and Apple was one of the first companies on my mind and now here's a news article practically about the same thing.
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