May the Control be With You?

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I have always been a bigger fan of Apple than android. Their silver, slick designs have always caught my eye and the fact that they ‘look pretty’ was the extent of my reasoning for using an iPod, Mac and iPhone. No matter what smart phone you use, you’re ALWAYS connected to the internet, and it is practically an extension of your arm. Nevertheless, the ultimate theme of both is CONTROL. But who has the control of your device?

I like many others, may have not realised the true difference between these two competitors, one has locked appliances and the other generative platforms. The locked appliance ‘remains tethered to its maker’s desires. While the user cannot be flexible and innovative, this system offers a more consistent and focused experience. Generative platforms on the other hand run codes from anywhere, written by anyone.

In 2007, Apple introduced the first smart phone to the world. Apple reinvented the mobile phone to allow users to access more than ever before. In the market, Apple had already put itself ahead, setting the standard for smart phones with no competitors. The iPhone is a closed device. Think about it…can you buy apps from anywhere other than the Apple store? The answer is no. Apple users are locked into Apple; this is known as a ‘walled garden of apps’. Apple has complete control over all apps available and has the ability to remove any apps at any time. Therefore, Apple has control over the platform, content and user. You may be wondering why Apple has taken this approach. Steve Jobs believed the locked appliances system allows Apple to remain in complete control of the direction of the company also ensuring fewer failures. Jobs stated, “We define everything that is on the phone…you don’t want your phone to be like a PC…[that] doesn’t work [after] you have loaded three apps.”

Google released the Android smart phone in 2008, one year after the iPhone. Having to distinguish itself from Apple, android is a generative platform. The open and free platform is based on the Linux kernel operating system allowing anyone to access and modify the codes of androids. The ‘open garden’ of apps allows users to download apps from ANY market, uploaded by ANYONE. The difference therefore from Apple is that Android has NO control over the platform, content or user. But how does Android profit from this? Android as a generative platform facilitates the flow of content. It allows users to be in control of what is on their device and where it comes from. They can modify it to personally suit themselves and what they need. Google therefore encourages users to access as many channels as possible, as they receive funds each time they are used.

Tumblr for example is an open platform, in the sense that it allows users to view and upload content from anyone and anywhere. However, elements remain closed due to copyright limitations that have the ability to remove content that breaches its original copyright. Tumblr supports Android and Apple, with apps for both. However the Android app was created first and is more developed than Apple’s, due to the greater number of android Tumblr users.

Had I had an understanding of the ‘locked appliances vs. generative platforms’ concept, prior to purchasing a smart phone, I wonder if I still would have gone with Apple. Nevertheless, I am confident in Apple’s reliability to consistently work, which is more important to me, than my freedom to adapt and use different codes. I can definitely see the advantages of both systems and think I’ll be more considerate of the android users next time I argue my phone is better than theirs.

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