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Have Walled Gardens Killed the Personal Computer? 848

Posted by timothy
from the not-the-one-I'm-using dept.
theodp writes "Harvard Law School Prof Jonathan Zittrain explains in The Personal Computer is Dead why you should be afraid — very afraid — of the snowballing replicability of the App Store Model. 'If we allow ourselves to be lulled into satisfaction with walled gardens,' warns Zittrain, 'we'll miss out on innovations to which the gardeners object, and we'll set ourselves up for censorship of code and content that was previously impossible. We need some angry nerds.' Searchblog's John Battelle, who's also solidly in the tear-down-this-walled-garden camp, adds: 'I'm not a nerd, quite, but I'm sure angry.'"
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Have Walled Gardens Killed the Personal Computer?

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  • Angry Nerds (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:37AM (#38257062)

    No way, Angry Nerds will not be in the App Store!

  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:39AM (#38257070)

    I haven't RTFA, but the instant question is: So what?

    As long as a device solves a problem to the user, that's what the device should restrain itself to do.. General use PCs have proven to become virus/worms/problem infested in the hands of "normal" users..

    There will always be general use pc's for those who are willing and have to skills to handle them responsibly..

    I for one welcome this new era when tech support nightmares get reduced to a minimum..

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by impaledsunset (1337701) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:57AM (#38257170)

      Getting out of the cave a few times a week to hunt is enough to sustain myself. My cave and my stone weapons solve a problem to me, so why care about anything else? If ain't broken, don't fix it.

      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drx (123393) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:06PM (#38257254) Homepage

        And today people think that you're a hacker if you look at Google's second search result page.
        This shouldn't have happened.

        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by speederaser (473477) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @02:18PM (#38258454)

          And today people think that you're a hacker if you look at Google's second search result page.

          And how did we ever lose track of the fact that it's ALWAYS been that way? To the vast majority of people out there even Linux is a walled garden because they don't have a clue how to modify it and they don't want a clue, they don't have time for it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by amiga3D (567632)

            Hell, most people can't even use all the functions of their TV's remote control. Funny thing the other day was when a friend of mine couldn't find his remote control to turn on the game. I went over and pushed the button on the TV and changed the channel and he kinda looked at me like I had just conjured up a demon or something. Most people think that when you flip the light switch and the light comes on it's magic.

          • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @04:10PM (#38259330)

            It isn't about every user being able to write software. That is never going to happen. What it's about is the ability of the millions of independent developers to give users software the gatekeepers don't approve. If there are billions of people with Windows 7 or Snow Leopard or Ubuntu, I can write a piece of software and sell it or give it away to those users and there isn't anything Microsoft, Apple or Canonical can do to stop me.

            If those users have to jailbreak their computers before they can install my software, and they don't know how to do that, I'm now beholden to the troll under the bridge into the walled garden. No apps that compete with iTunes. No apps that "ridicule public figures." No apps that help dissidents unless Apple is willing to give up China.

            Pardon my French, but fuck that shit.

      • You have fallen into the trap of thinking that technological progress is automatically linked to quality of life.

        You probably work longer hours, and have less say over your daily schedule than a medieval serf.

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:58AM (#38257176)

      > General use PCs have proven to become virus/worms/problem infested in the hands of "normal" users..

      This. Normal users have lived with the crapware infested mess that is "general PCs" for years, and they HATE IT. They want something better, and walled gardens are that thing. That's why the PC is on the road to becoming a niche platform. PC sales are *declining* in the US, Canada, and Western Europe.

      More and more my friends, mostly younger people 18-25, aren't bothering to replace their PCs when they die. They find that a combination of an iPad, iPhone, and a PS3 meets all their needs much better than the "jack of all trades, master of none" PC did. The iPhone is always with them, so they are always connected. The iPad is with them in classes and at home, sometimes elsewhere. The PS3 for gaming of course, to avoid the annoying mess that is PC gaming.

      The post-PC world is coming, and it's because people WANT it. Because PCs are too complex for most people to want to deal with, and a range of consumer-friendly devices meets their needs better. That's where the market is being driven, and for good reason.

      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dyinobal (1427207) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:06PM (#38257246)
        It's okay give it a few years and your walled gardens will be infested as well.
        • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Fahrvergnuugen (700293) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:36PM (#38257490) Homepage
          Not if the gardener does his job
          • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

            by hedwards (940851) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:06PM (#38257778)

            Which is all well and good until you decide you want to watch a DVD or play a DRMed file for which the gardener didn't feel support was acceptable. Granted these days DVDs wouldn't likely be a problem, but in the past it definitely was an issue. And given Apple's history, I see no reason to assume that it's going to be restricted to niche applications that most people don't want or need either. It remains to be seen if that continues or if it spreads to other gardens, but there is precedence for it.

        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @02:31PM (#38258542) Homepage

          It's okay give it a few years and your walled gardens will be infested as well.

          A well maintained walled gardens will never be invested with bugs and worms as you have a central authority to clean the mess up when security issues arise, assuming the issue even make it past quality control in the first place.

          Furthermore the security model is fundamentally different to what you have on a PC. PC software operates on the assumptions of having free access to the device and be able to do whatever it wants to, it's open by default, software running on an iPhone or Android device does not, it has an API it is allowed to talk to, but doesn't have raw system access, it's closed by default. There might not even be a way to get it by any standard means.

          See game consoles for comparison: Are they unhackable? No. But running unauthorized code on them generally requires a hardware mod, not just clicking on an malicious email.

      • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {selppet}> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:19PM (#38257344) Homepage Journal

        The PS3 for gaming of course, to avoid the annoying mess that is PC gaming.

        Let me know when the Humble Bundles come to the PS3.

      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:30PM (#38257436)

        I have no idea why you got modded up so high but the points you make are sure as hell ridiculous. Theres so many uses for PCs, can you do photoshop on an iPhone, No? wonder why.. Can you code on an iPhone? No? wonder why.. The PC isn't going anywhere buddy, these people predicted the death of the TV because people watch moves on their phones, simply NOT true, and retarded at the same time.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mrbcs (737902)
          I agree, the pc won't go anywhere. But, it would be nice to get all the people who are not capable of running a computer off the computers.

          I'll be a complete computer snob here... iMac, iPod, iPad, iChat are all for people who are iChallenged. Most people aren't smart enough to run a computer. Within a couple months the machines are so spyware and virus infected they barely run. A walled garden will keep them out of trouble.

          These people are not going to use Photoshop or code ever. Best to get them somewhere

          • I'm sorry but how exactly is an iMac (a machine that in general is running UNIX) for people who are challenged? And iChat? So if I use that as a Jabber client now I'm some kind of moron?

          • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

            by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @02:35PM (#38258560)

            I'll be a complete computer snob here... iMac, iPod, iPad, iChat are all for people who are iChallenged.

            A Windows user calling the users of a genuine Unix system challenged? What an idiot.

            These people are not going to use Photoshop or code ever.

            Quite hard to explain all those designers and iOS developers using OSX then.

          • Re:So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @03:45PM (#38259116)

            What about those of us who bought an iMac because of its form factor?

            I wanted Unix under there, but I also wanted to be able to unplug it from the wall and box it up in under 2 minutes (its box has a carrying handle) so I can move it easily between places. I didn't want a laptop screen.

            And what about iChat? It does brainlessly easy A/V chatting along with file transfers, text chat and so on and is just a front end for the AIM protocol. How is that for people who are "iChallenged"? Sure, less tech-savvy people can *use* it, because it is easy to use - this doesn't automatically mean that "nerds" can't use it because it's too easy.

            This isn't like setting the difficulty on a video game. No one is going to judge you for playing on "easy". Well, no one smart anyway.

            You sound like a hipster desperately looking for something to define himself by. "Oh, iChat?! pff! That's for lusers! MUD clients are where the cool kids are hanging out!"

        • Your argument is only that phones aren't suitable for every computing task, not that PCs are needed.

          Photoshop and watching movies only require large screens with adequately powerful processing power. They don't have to be general purpose PCs. And they can indeed be devices that work in a walled garden.

          A better argument for the continued requirement for PCs is that developers need them to create new software, even for the walled garden devices. However this is a niche market. We're transitioning to a time wh

      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheLongshot (919014) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:35PM (#38257482)

        Funny that to replace one device, you need to have three.

        There are a couple of reasons why I don't think PCs are going away: keyboards and fact that the vast majority of web sites are not optimized for touch screen. Fact is, typing in anything on any of these devices is a pain in the ass. I hate using touchscreen keyboards and I've hated the trend of going away from built in keyboards. Yes, there are bluetooth keyboards, but it isn't always practical to carry those around with you.

        As for web sites, while most are usable, most are also designed to be used with a full PC, not a hacked down browser of many of these machines.

        • For sure many websites aren't designed with touch screens in mind. However as time goes on, they will be. Web developers develop to be compatible with the majority of clients out there, and as tablets and phones have become a significant proportion of web clients, new website designs and updates will support that.

          For sure for some tasks you need a real keyboard. But the Asus Eee Transformer shows that that doesn't have to be a PC.

          As to browsers, Webkit is the biggest mobile browser engine, and it's just as

        • by chromas (1085949)

          Funny that to replace one device, you need to have three.

          Unix philisophy: One task—one device which does that one task well.

      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tompaulco (629533) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:42PM (#38257550) Homepage Journal
        They find that a combination of an iPad, iPhone, and a PS3 meets all their needs much better than the "jack of all trades, master of none" PC did.
        So the PC is dead because a single machine can be replaced by three machines.
        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Kohath (38547) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:35PM (#38258046)

          Did the number 3 murder your parents or something? What's wrong with 3? What's your point?

        • Back in the 1970s and earlier consumers used to buy an electric motor called "An Electric Drill". And as well as drilling with it you could buy attachments to do sanding, polishing, circular sawing, screwing, pumping, grinding. (almost sounds like a sex aid! maybe there were attachments for that too!)

          As time went on the price went down and affluence went up, and people bought dedicated devices for whichever of these things they needed to do. They didn't need a general purpose electric motor any more. They c

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pushing-robot (1037830) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:58AM (#38257180)

      There will always be general use pc's for those who are willing and have to skills to handle them responsibly..

      Sorry, but this is Slashdot, where we have to see the world in absolutes. Despite antitrust and consumer protection laws, soon *every* device will be made by [Apple|Google|Microsoft] and the entire world will be subject to that company's terrible machinations. Everyone who purchases one of those companies' products is immanentizing this monoculture eschaton, thus we are justified in hating these people for their part in curtailing our future personal freedoms.

      Also, all restaurants will be Taco Bell.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary ease of use, deserve neither liberty nor ease of use.

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Moryath (553296) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:00PM (#38257202)

      There will always be general use pc's for those who are willing and have to skills to handle them responsibly..

      And who gets them, and at what price? I refer you to the days of yore, when getting a development machine for a video game console cost a prohibitive amount of money. Even today, if you're not developing for the incredibly limited scope of "hey gaiz I ripped off another old 2D video game and put the clone on XBLive" games, you're going to have to shell out a pretty penny to MS to develop actual Xbox360 console titles. And you don't even want to KNOW what it costs to get a single dev unit for the PS3.

      I for one welcome this new era when tech support nightmares get reduced to a minimum..

      Except that the walled garden DOESN'T reduce tech support nightmares. What it really does is make it so that when someone really, really needs to get under the hood - be it the local sysadmin, or the home user - to fix something, they CAN'T and the only option, ever, is a factory wipe and your savegames/files/etc are toast. Don't believe me? Count up the number of people you know who have had to "factory reset" or replace a phone handset; that's the walled garden in action.

      What the walled garden does, is DRM. The ability for the manufacturer to engage in illegal collusion and extortion with the MafiAA and other content cartels to say "your content is only available for our device IF you pay us the extortion fee to register and IF you don't do anything that we or our MafiAA partners don't want you to do, like compete with their products."

      Here's an example: Apple killed Lexcycle's "Stanza" e-reader, which had USB syncing abilities and other features that had become very popular. Why? Because they have sweetheart deals with Barnes & Noble and Amazon to feature the Nook and Kindle apps instead.

      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Graymalkin (13732) * on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:15PM (#38257852)

        Wow Apple killed Stanza? You better tell that to my copy of Stanza for which I get regular updates. Better yet, maybe you should shut the fuck up if you're not going to fact check things you say.

        Several years ago Stanza had a problem because used an unsupported interface in order to load books onto it from the computer. Apple then added an API to allow apps to transfer files from iTunes. Stanza adopted this API and has since had no problems.

        Your conjecture about B&N and Kindle doesn't even fucking make sense since Apple has their own eBook store. You're just talking out of your ass. I suspect maybe you've suffered from some sort of severe head trauma recently. You should maybe head to the nearest hospital and get that checked out. You wouldn't want permanent brain damage to occur.

        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

          by caseih (160668) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:30PM (#38258004)

          Curious about this I just did a quick google search and confirmed that indeed, Stanza is not getting regular updates. Amazon said that the latest update from last month or so is the last one. Stanza is finished. And it already is broken on iOS 4.3. You can read about this on the forums. Stanza will keep working for iOS 5 for the foreseeable future, but it's certainly not being developed further. Instead Amazon is pushing the Kindle app.

    • Nobody's killing 'Open Computing' - just there are now some very nice walled gardens, if you prefer it this way.
      Provides a nice, safe, stable starting point for a lot of people who were previously scared shitless of technology (if the iphone didn't exist, do you think they'd all be using Android?). If they're happy, they stay there, if they eventually find it limiting, they can move on.
      As the recent recipient of "Microsoft called me, asked me to load teamviewer, I left them on my laptop for 2 hours, unins
    • I haven't RTFA, but the instant question is: So what?

      As long as a device solves a problem to the user, that's what the device should restrain itself to do.. General use PCs have proven to become virus/worms/problem infested in the hands of "normal" users..

      There will always be general use pc's for those who are willing and have to skills to handle them responsibly..

      I for one welcome this new era when tech support nightmares get reduced to a minimum..

      What happens if an extremist pseudo-totalitarian government comes to power in America? What happens if all computer platforms become walled gardens by law, and that those walls are actually secure? If you were using an iPad right now, and certain things were actually illegal to say, would you trust the device?

      I'm not saying this is immenant, but a survey of history, from Thucidides and the trials of the first democracy in Greece to the history of the last century should make us realize that we always have

  • Well duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:41AM (#38257074)

    This is why we have free software and open source software.

    So that we're not bound by the whims of some business model.

  • by ThinkingThinker (2015202) * on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:44AM (#38257086)
    With Apple, you get a walled garden where Apple controls what apps are allowed. The apps are high quality but developer control is lost. With Android, it's the "wild wild west" where anything you want to create can get sold. And it shows. I see the new apps each day for Android and most of it is pure trash. Honestly, how many bikini apps need to get released each day? The upshot here is that anyone can create anything and sell it for Android. There is always a tradeoff.
    • You don't need to have a walled garden to have an official app store though. You could just as easily have an app store with the same requirements as the current Apple one, but also allow the installation of software from elsewhere if the user wants it.

    • by pauljlucas (529435) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:05PM (#38257244) Homepage Journal

      ... Apple controls what apps are allowed. The apps are high quality .... I see the [sic] new apps each day for Android and most of it [sic] is pure trash. Honestly, how many bikini apps need to get released each day?

      It's not that much better in Apple's app store. If you read the reviews for some apps, people complain about crashes, slowness, etc.

      Also, while I don't know about bikini apps specifically, for any given type of app, there are sometimes hundreds in the app store. There are hundreds of tip calculators, RSS readers, and transportation apps just to name a few. While many may work, they're often poorly designed and/or have terrible UIs.

      I really think Apple should be stricter. For example, I'd love to see Apple reduce the 5-star rating system to just 4 stars and de-list apps whose rating falls to and remains at 1 star for 30 days. That would force developers to make better apps and responsive to users culling the ton of crap apps from the store.

      • by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:28PM (#38257420) Journal

        I don't care if they de-list them or not, as long as I can filter them.

        Why can't I filter them??

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Apple's walled garden works actively against responsiveness: every bug fix release has to be approved, and this approval process is said to take around two weeks, typically. That's a long time to receive a lot of 1-star ratings.

        Android's app store allows instant publishing of bug fixes. Allows for much faster response to user issues.

  • by tiffany352 (2485630) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:44AM (#38257088)
    I prefer repositories. You can't really be walled in, because you can just add some other repo in and have all those packages too. It's not like it's so hard to navigate either, it's just that most package manager frontends remain very technical, maybe excepting the ubuntu software centre(?).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nerdfest (867930)
      Apple could have done this with the Mac store, and didn't. They could have allowed non-app store installs like Android, and didn't. The only reason not to do repositories or allow non-walled garden applications is greed. Sounds like Windows 8 is going the walled garden route as well, and this is the problem. It becomes more acceptable, and has to get pretty crippled compared to the competition (AOL) before the general public starts to care.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:45AM (#38257094)

    I'm developing an innovative synthesis program for the iPad. I wouldn't be doing this without the walled garden. I'm happy with the distributions system, the quality control rules, and the closed development environment. If the system cuts down on piracy a bit, that's also a plus.

    Walls can easily be broken. The jailbreaking community is alive and well. So as far as I'm concerned, it's the best of both worlds and the op ed is a lot of FUD.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScuzzMonkey (208981)

      Zittrain's been peddling this load of manure argument for a long time now, and as far as I am concerned he has been consistently disproven time after time. It's not that what he points out is not a factor, so much that he ignores the rest of the story, which is that the "generative spirit" continually finds ways to break down the walls, create alternatives, and generally keep innovating despite (and at times, because of) the controls the gardeners put in place.

      He equally ignores the fact that the vast major

      • by Microlith (54737)

        the "generative spirit" continually finds ways to break down the walls

        Tell that to the buyers of Motorola devices, who have to bend over backwards to bypass the restrictions they put in place on the handsets they sell. That's not innovation, that's contorting oneself to work around punitive restrictions, something you shouldn't need to do.

        He equally ignores the fact that the vast majority of users of open technologies never did, or ever would have, engaged in any truly generative behavior. And there's nothi

    • by Microlith (54737)

      I wouldn't be doing this without the walled garden.

      Why? Aside from the controlled APIs and distribution path, what does locking down the user give to you (other than admitting you hate and distrust your users?)

      Walls can easily be broken. The jailbreaking community is alive and well.

      Because it's so wonderful to expend effort to regain control and capability that was deliberately taken away. And constantly fighting the vendor who seeks to impose that control on you, on top of being in violation of the EULA.

      So

  • by TheTruthIs (2499862) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:45AM (#38257096)
    It always finds a way.
  • Removing root access (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mattbee (17533) <matthew@bytemark.co.uk> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:52AM (#38257132) Homepage

    I think Apple is going to remove root access [matthewblo.ch] from the Mac in one or two more OS X updates, and you'll only be able to retain your root access by paying the small annual developer fee. It makes sense to cement their revenue stream from a platform that's still gaining users; the only question is when they can afford to throw the gauntlet down to Microsoft & Adobe.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:53AM (#38257138) Homepage Journal
    this term in their tos :

    They can't license their work as Free Software, because those license terms conflict with Apple's.

    such ecosystems can legally and single handedly kill free software.

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:55AM (#38257144)

    The PC is not dead its just that common end users are driving up the shut-up-and-take-my-money model. the PC will end up being left to the geeks again which is probably the same small percentage of people (compared to the entire pc market space right now) it was back in the late 80s. the only reason common end users bought pcs was to get on the internet. they have other ways to do that now without having to learn anything. internet access has acheived the easiness of the VCR and thats what most people want who are not geeks.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:18PM (#38257336)

      The PC isn't dead... but it's dying the death of a thousand cuts.

      The internet, trusted computing (DRM) and locked down devices has allowed Apple a degree of control that most corporations would dampen their knickers over. With Intel being a kingpin in this Orwellian wet dream - back in the late 90s... I heard an Intel engineer giving a speech about how the next frontier in security was about keeping owners from controlling their own devices - aka TPMs) - with the support of governments and content companies. All the pieces are dropping into place.

      It's a perfect storm of control, surveillance and profit. And you can thank Apple for blazing the trail.

      In another couple of years we'll be looking back the Microsoft Windows PC era with fondness. Remember when you could....

    • by gallondr00nk (868673) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:29PM (#38257434)

      The PC is not dead its just that common end users are driving up the shut-up-and-take-my-money model. the PC will end up being left to the geeks again which is probably the same small percentage of people (compared to the entire pc market space right now) it was back in the late 80s. the only reason common end users bought pcs was to get on the internet..

      Exactly this.

      Anyone else remember that PC boom in about 1999-2000 where tons of people went and bought ugly, bloated Cyrix MII rigs running Windows 98? It was a hideous time. Back then that was the entry level into computing, and the machines were junk from top to bottom. The only anti virus was from a PC-Pro cover disc circa 1996, there were no firewalls and no security updates. The end user didn't care, as long as it creaked into life long enough to connect to a dial up service. The user base that bought a Cyrix MII are now buying other things that better suit their needs.

  • by Literaphile (927079) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:56AM (#38257154)
    Have walled gardens killed everyone's ability to come up with new metaphors for closed systems?
  • a few arguments (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:57AM (#38257168)

    - "open gardens" have caused far more trouble then the enemies of walled gardens care to admit. And i'm not talking about trojans, virii, rootkits or whatever. Just the HUGE mess they allowed to be made in terms of API and backwards compatibility. Fuck that shit. If walled gardens can keep things "just working", well there is a BIG pro argument you're ignoring.
    - web apps are still around. I don't think apple will kill mobile safari any time soon. So there. Here's your open garden you can play in and make a big fucking mess off. Now leave the people who want to GetThingsDone alone please with your whining. Go play and shut up.
    - hack your fucking phone if you really want to break things and bother tons of people with software that relies on dependencies that are no longer supported. But then don't start complaining how apple broke your app.
    - DONT BUY IT. If you're having such a monumental issue with walled gardens, stop buying stuff from them. But oohhhh shiny steam app... must buy... and all those achievements... ohhh... must have... and those hats... groovy... and the whole fucking world needs to see my status update. But facebook sucks ! That's right. It sucks and still you want to have it. For free.

    goddamd kids...

    • by Galestar (1473827)
      Sorry sir, we'll get off your lawn.
    • Re:a few arguments (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:43PM (#38258120)

      DONT BUY IT. If you're having such a monumental issue with walled gardens, stop buying stuff from them. But oohhhh shiny steam app... must buy... and all those achievements... ohhh... must have... and those hats... groovy... and the whole fucking world needs to see my status update. But facebook sucks ! That's right. It sucks and still you want to have it. For free.

      Don't worry. Eventually it will be "Don't buy it, and do without modern technology."

  • by Zigurd (3528) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:07PM (#38257258) Homepage

    Think about the phrase "personal computer."

    How many people do you know who really need a completely general-purpose computer that they own and control personally?

    How many "PCs" are actually nodes in a centrally controlled system, and not "personal" at all?

    Because of the economics of making "PCs," we have the illusion that hundreds of millions of people buy and use "personal computers" each year. In reality, a minority, possibly a small minority, of those people actually take advantage of anything those "PCs" do that would require personal control over a general-purpose computer.

    This is the reason mobile devices that are not quite "personal computers" are rightly popular. They serve the actual need. Hopefully, it will be possible to use mobile devices as if they were personal computers, so that the potential of personal computers can be applied to a networked, mobile world.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:09PM (#38257270)

    They want to make it's like the phone company where you have to rent or pay fees to use stuff that you own.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:16PM (#38257322)
    All of this will happen again.

    In the 1980s and early 1990s, online services were walled gardens. There were of course minor exceptions - BBSes who all exchanged information with each other via FidoNet. But the big names were CompuServe, GEnie, MSN, and (what would eventually become the 900 lb gorilla) America Online. They had their day, until the Internet tore down those walls. Today, all those services are pretty much gone. MSN is no longer a subscription service. AOL is still hanging on, mostly due to monthly service revenue from old people who don't know that they can get their Internet without having to pay AOL.

    I think what happens is that when a new type of service/product is created, the initial creators and early copycats end up with most of the market share. Then they try setting up walls to protect their gardens and preserve their market share. Eventually an open alternative comes along which works better and/or is as easy to use, and the walls fall. Arguably, something similar happened in the 1970s/1980s with computer operating systems. Each computer maker had their own OS with its own ecosphere and apps. Eventually, MS-DOS ended up winning the market not because it was the best, but because it (and the PC platform it ran on) was open.

    I suppose it's possible that, eventually, some company could "get it right" and preserve their walled garden in perpetuity. I'd argue Facebook is much closer to this than Apple.* But based on history, the safe bet is against any company managing to pull this off. Eventually something bigger and better comes along which consigns the original giant to a niche, if not irrelevance. *(Google is open enough that they allow you to extract the data stored in their services - their walls rather porous.)

    The one market where I haven't seen this happening is gaming consoles. But I think that's because the nature of game compatibility/hardware and the refresh cycle forces the entire industry to "reboot" every few years. First it was Atari, then Nintendo, then Sony, and currently it's split between Nintendo (Wii) and Microsoft (Xbox). The amount of time between these reboots is short enough that an open platform can't develop. But the reboots also mean that each company has to start over from scratch every few years to maintain dominance.
  • Still Alive! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by captjc (453680) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:22PM (#38257376)

    As long as there is a need for performance computing, tinkering, people who build their own systems, and old-school hacking, there will be the PC. The PC has survived everything thrown at it so far and will survive well into the future. The article seems to mostly be whining about Apple turning OS X into another iDevice. If Apple is the problem, don't use Apple's products. Use a Windows machine or a Linux box. I hear tell that BSD is still alive and kicking. Solaris still has a community as well. There are other less used platforms that be switched to as well.

    The problem is not that the PC is dying, the problem is that it is becoming a niche. Most people just want to check Facebook, email, and play some crappy games. They are not writing papers, presentation, or programs. They do not use SPICE, MATLAB, MAPLE, GCC, or any other in the other long list of programs and tools that many of us take for granted. A smart phone or a tablet is good enough.

    For those of us who do have to do any type of creative work, the PC will still be needed. Even if Microsoft decided to take the route of Apple's locked down operating systems, there are and will be alternatives. There are dozens of hackers who do nothing but try to port Linux and BSD to other platforms just because they can. There are also people who love jail-braking these devices for the same reason. It might evolve to smaller form factors in the future but the PC will be around for a long time. As long as there is a need for power computing, PC's will live.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @02:30PM (#38258534) Homepage

    The Firefox add-on system has been infected with this problem. It used to be that you could write add-ons for Firefox, put them on a web site, and let users download them. Now, Firefox has what's essentially an "app store". [mozilla.org] Add-ons have to go through an approval process [mozilla.com] which takes about two months. Then they have to be hosted on Mozilla's site. Mozilla tracks how many users are using each add-on through a back channel in the browser. Because of the new policy of very frequent updates to Firefox, add-ons have to be updated regularly, and for add-ons on the Mozilla site, this happens automatically and remotely. So your add-on is now tied to Mozilla's "cloud".

    Firefox itself is slaved to Mozilla's "cloud" now. It's become much more demanding about insisting that it be updated when Mozilla issues a new version.

    It's still possible to host add-ons on your own site, but warning messages appear if they're loaded, and they rapidly become obsolete and break as Firefox changes. It's still possible to turn off updates of Firefox, but by default, you get nagged. The jaws are slowly closing on Firefox users.

    This is what passes for "open source" today.

  • by MpVpRb (1423381) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @03:09PM (#38258814)

    ..that I lived in the golden age of computer freedom, and future generations will only read about it in history books.

    Walled gardens, virtual machines, signed code, app stores etc may be useful, but little by little, are removing our freedom to actually control the machine.

    I fear that in the future, you will need a license to write code under constant government scrutiny. Kinda like making explosives.

    But then, maybe I'm just a curmudgeon...

  • by xdroop (4039) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:56PM (#38260064) Homepage Journal

    Apple's App Store is a logical result of the chaos that's been exhibited on general purpose computing platforms for the last 20 years.

    When end users experience crashes, blue screens, data corruptions, poor user interfaces, hung devices, and insufficient functionality, they are not "feeling their freedom". They are feeling the results of you exercising yours. And when their "local nerd" is asking them questions which leadingly suggest that they shouldn't have been doing what they've been doing, they feel angry.

    End users want computing like they want toast. Put in their bread/data, push a button, and get their toast/video. The fact that this is very hard, and in some cases virtually impossible, does nothing to limit the end users' expectations. For years they have been told these computers will make their lives better and enable them in so many ways -- which they have, but they sure don't like the hidden costs that these ecosystems have dumped on them.

    You know all those arguments that have been made? If you don't like it, you don't have to use it! That's all the end user is doing.

    Sturgeon's Law explains that 90% of anything is crap. If curation -- in the form of App Stores or whatever -- can change those odds, even just a little bit, end users are going to move towards them in droves.

    Software engineers have squandered their freedom, and end users are increasingly acting like they don't want to have any part of it any more.

    (I wrote up a much longer article [xdroop.com] on the same theme.)

Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes. -- Mickey Mouse

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