Monday, August 10, 2009

Apple Backlash: Jason Calacanis Gives Up On Apple

By Benedict Wee

High-profile US internet entrepreneur and co-founder of Weblogs, Inc. Jason Calacanis has publicly announced the end of his 6 year relationship with Apple.
"Over the last 12-18 months, my love affair with Apple has waned. Steve Job's peculiar, rigidly closed, and severe worldview have started to cramp my style."

"Steve's a great guy, and the love affair has been wonderful, but I'm starting to look past him and back to Microsoft for a more healthy relationship that is less-wait for it-anti-competitive in nature"
The astute businessman (whose first company was part of the dot-com era and who managed to capitalize on the growth of blogs) admitted that he used to buy every product (sometimes twice, for his wife) Apple made and was more than willing to over-pay for the premium price tag but has now decided that the company has turned into the monster they've depicted their competitor -Microsoft- to be.

Jason likened it to Apple's famous 1984 television advertisement where an Olympian (symbolizing Apple) destroyed a giant television displaying a dictator (symbolizing Microsoft) brainwashing the masses except now the person on the screen is Apple and the Olympian, the open-source movement.

Jason highlighted the 5 main reasons why he is giving up on Apple:
  • They've destroyed MP3 player innovation through anti-competitive practices such as not allowing iTunes to sync with other players (which they allowed before) except their own high-priced iPods which possess limited features like the lack of a radio tuner. The public acceptance of this knowledge is a double standard as Microsoft wouldn't be able to get away with the same antics with their Zune player.
  • The second reason is their monopolistic practices in telecommunications where their iPhone is only sold by one telco provider in the US. This practice happens on our shores as well with Vodafone being the only company selling the iPhone in New Zealand.
  • The third reason is their draconian App Store policies that force developers into making applications that are creatively limited. Apple's excuse of restriction in order to protect a telco's network holds no water as there are other open phones in public today and networks are still standing. This is also a double standard against Microsoft as they won't be allowed the same freedom with Windows.
  • The fourth reason is their hypocrisy by banning other mobile browsers with better functions like Opera on the iPhone despite criticizing Microsoft's early attempts at including Internet Explorer on Windows.
  • The last reason is the Google Voice debacle to which Jason remarks: "This point is similar to the browser issue, in that Apple wants to own almost every extension of the iPhone platform. How long before Apple decides to ban a Twitter client in favor of an Apple Twitter-like product?"
Although not a proponent of government regulation like I am, Jason predicts that Apple will face a self-inflicted revolt when Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.5 & 7 joins Google's Android in offering cheap, stable and open devices/smartphones to the market. He then sates the two cardinal rules about making great technology: 'Don't be evil' and 'Never get high on your own supply' from Scarface before asking questions that us consumers should think about:

1) Do you think Apple would be more, or less, successful if they adopted a more open strategy? (i.e. allowing other MP3 players in iTunes)

2) Do you think Apple should face serious antitrust action (the way Microsoft has experienced for years now)?

3) Do you think Apple's dexterity and competence forgive their bad behavior?


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