There’s an interesting poll going on over at 9to5mac right now. “Should Apple let 3rd party devices like the Palm Pre sync with your music collection via iTunes?” A good question, but, I think, a misleading one. Should Apple let? If we rephrase the question in a more positive way, we get “Should Apple actively block other hardware from syncing with iTunes?” As of this writing, 67% of the respondents have said yes, Apple should do just that.
Does anyone else find this shocking? In a world where every company is criticized for not having their software or hardware open enough, Apple gets a pass. In fact, Apple gets permission to regress — from the very people who stand to benefit from the opposite.
What harm is done in not deliberately locking out other hardware makers? Apple has a desirable product in OS X, and clearly iTunes is an important piece in the game, whatever game that is. They hope to expand their market share, but they refuse to take the steps that make it palatable for the non-converted. For some reason nobody seems to be bothered by the idea of an Apple blacklist, but for every other hardware and software maker it’d be a shitstorm. What if Canon decided that its cameras shouldn’t work with Samsung SD cards because they have a partnership with SanDisk? There’d be blood on the streets! Yet Apple could, and apparently is urged to, prevent others from playing nice, for no other reason than some belief that everything related to Apple should be under Apple’s jurisdiction.
Why not openness? Why not “bring ’em on?” There’s a tiny risk of cannibalization of sales, but I think that would be more than counteracted by both an increase in Apple converts (who would later switch to iPhone) and in mindshare of the people who care about openness. Of course, this is a long rant to draw out from a simple internet poll, but sometimes one data point is extremely revealing, as I feel this one is. The willingness of the Apple crowd (and I’m typing this on a Mac so don’t start a flame war, kids) to knife themselves in the back is astounding. Apple’s products may be the future, but that’s only if the fanboys let the future get here in the first place.