Think of me as a glutton for punishment. What I am about to write is going to get me a smack-down from Apple lovers all across the planet. As full disclosure, I love my OS-X, love my IPod and my miniPOD. In fact I support Apple […]

Think of me as a glutton for punishment. What I am about to write is going to get me a smack-down from Apple lovers all across the planet. As full disclosure, I love my OS-X, love my IPod and my miniPOD. In fact I support Apple by buying ridiculously expensive peripherals and accessories. In fact, I can ill-afford a new PowerBook ever year, but I forsake my Dunhill’s and Gray Goose for three months to pay for the shiny object of desire.

But today, I was simply and completely disgusted by Apple’s actions. The company announced its new OS, code-named Tiger. It looks very nice and cool. It has tons of new features and one in particular are the reason I am writing this post: Dashboard.

Dashboard. “The Dashboard is home to a new kind of application called Widgets. Widgets are mini-applications written in JavaScript that are designed for fun as well as function,” writes Apple on its website. Veru cool – except it is a direct rip-off of Konfabulator, a $25 Macintosh program which has been doing this for the longest time. Shame on you Apple!

Microsoft might put big mega-million dollars giants like Netscape out of business, Apple is takkng food out of the mouth of a developer. I think a lot of these tiny guys cannot fight back, and Apple gets away with it. Apple had pulled a similar stunt with Watson search technology and dealt it a mortal blow with Sherlock. (I would not be surprised if Konfabulator team defects to Windows.) The RSS reader in Safari could easily put a dent in Ranchero’s business.

This is a sign that Apple is as predatory that Microsoft and is perhaps more evil than the Barons of Redmond. Why? because time and again, Apple takes the best ideas from the “lone coder” community and subsumes into its operating system. It wants everything in the OS, just like Windows. (Ironically it was lampooning Microsoft today at WWDC!) I am pretty sure if Microsoft did something like this, it would be front page news in every newspaper across the planet. Apple, the shiny happy, smiley face Apple. It cannot do no evil. I think the mac-fan sites don’t get too critical of Apple when they should.

Think about this folks – for a minute spare a thought for that lone coder who toils to bring you the software you love. And let Apple know that it has to earn our love! [PS: I will still buy a PowerBook next year as well :-) ]

Russ is angry about it and has an open letter to all Apple developers

  1. That’s the way the big guys work and Apple is no different. Apple has become more like this since Steve came back. Since then, they’ve put out a brower application, a video editing application, and soon, I would imagine, a word processing package. Why? Because their marketshare has slipped so far that they can’t get large developers to put big resources around developing Mac versions of products. So one by one, Apple will pick off the smaller developers.

  2. it is a shame isn’t it that apple has to pick off from small developers who are basically the only ones going out on a limb and supporting the apple platform. i think this is how the big guys work – but apple is always viewed as one for the people.

  3. Apple’s still a business – despite their image of being one for the people. Hence, for instance, the closed nature of the iPod – they will do what they have to do to protect and grow the company. They’re certainly not going to let a small developer stop them from expanding the revenue base given the way their hardware sales are going…

  4. Sure that is one way of looking at it, but I guess this dashboard feature could be for example licensed from the little guy for a few pennies a OS copy shipped. I think ripping off is something one leaves to the Win peeps

  5. Rick Gregory Tuesday, June 29, 2004


    I can’t agree here – this is a feature that hurts a small developer while not adding something that will materially help their market. And, as Om points out, they could simply have licensed Konfabulator. The fact is that they can get away with this because small developers don’t have the resources to fight back. Even if there’s a legal argument that could be made, they simply don’t have the resources.

  6. Charlie Sierra Tuesday, June 29, 2004

    I don’t have the time to eviscerate you guys right now, so to cut to the chase: you are soooo wrong!!!!

    I generally prefer precision thinking, and this post + comments are close to making Michael Moore look like an objective truth teller.

    I expect a higher standard.

  7. Charlie, I would wait for your full comment. but please this is nothing like michael moore. (higher standard … charlie you compared me too moore: please he is fatter and a liar – i am just fatter)

    jokes aside, look i am for the little guys on this one – sometimes even in brutal cold capitalistic body, you can find a bleeding heart. i just am angry with this blatant rip-off.

  8. At the very least, Apple could let the developers know ahead of time and just acknowledge the inspiration. Perhaps provide a small (relative to a corporate budget) one-time pay out, super duper developer access, free upgrades for life, and hope like hell for good will. The way they’ve done it with Dashboard is just sickening and is generating a bunch of bad will.

  9. Charlie Sierra Tuesday, June 29, 2004

    Well I don’t want to raise your blood pressure, but I take issue with you promoting a mere opinion as the basic (unsupportable) assertion (ala Moore) of a blatant software ripoff.

    Simple critical thinking, ie asking penetrating questions, and a dap of research/industry knowledge is all thats needed to cast doubt about what you assume to be causal connection or a mere concidence.

    One case in point: Konfabulator is hardly unique, or special, etc.
    see: http://gdesklets.gnomedesktop.org/

    One device of critical thinking is to play the devil’s advocate, and it should be quite clear that Apple probably has a long list of items on the drawing board that have been queued for years, etc.

    As a sidenote, I once worked with Jef Raskin, and you’d be surprised how much UI innovation was mapped out years and years ago.

    What if Apple did approach these guys, and the Konfabulator guys were assholes and told Apple screw you? Who the hell knows? Perhaps this is the real story here.

    My comment about Moore, while rooted in jest, is also applicible because you and Damian are prematurely jumping to (what you should know to be) unsupportable conclusions.

    I could go on, but shirely you get my drift. I wouldn’t complain if I didn’t expect more.

  10. Charlie Sierra Tuesday, June 29, 2004


    You seem to suggest that Apple break the law. Selective and early disclosure of future products without proper confidentially protections, etc. could be seen as a violation of “Full Disclosure”.

    Secondly, thank god we are not (yet?) a socialist country. The burden for Konfabulator’s future and the obvious risk of being co-opted by Apple, Microsoft, or anybody else belongs to Konfabulator alone.


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