I read, yet-another, iPad article /rant this morning. I did find it clever that one quoted Guardian writer wrote “We will have arrived at an Orwellian end by Huxleian means” in reference to Apple application control. This is because the iPad is essentially an overgrown iPhone with all its application command and control. Personally, I think the iPhone is a success largely due to three things; it works as a phone, the user experience and the applications (and the implicit control). Command and control isn’t going away.
This new i-hierarchy leads me to an immediate question similar to the author of the article. Is it healthy, if applications are supposedly ubiquitous and multi-platform, for a company be able to control content, access, and payment?
I recognise this paradigm will be hard to shift, but what if the industry were to open up application discovery, rather than publishing them on a single “vendor” marketplace? Applications could be instead, certified: “This application has been certified to work on devices A,B,C by authority X” and a logical progression would be for applications to be universally searchable. The likes Bing could add a new tab/search option called Applications. Click Applications>Phone>iPhone>Games.. This would open up doors for linked applications, add-ins, accessories, substitutes and most importantly competition.
Payment is a whole other and complex beast. At this stage the various marketplaces (which payment systems and the rules that govern it) will need to exist.
There is another good argument here that essentially presses the case that as a device becomes more of an appliance it is likely to be more of a closed platform. The argument here is similar in the sense that no-one wants to know how your vacuum cleaner works. They just want it to switch on and occasionally have funny extension piece to reach the tricky bits in the house. My primary reservation here, and somewhat circular, is that without open software a device can never reach its full potential.