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Apple Should Open Its Kimono — Pronto

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Apple (s aapl), ever since its birth in the 1970s, has enjoyed special favor and even zealous worship from members of the open source community, self-proclaimed free thinkers and supporters of open standards. And yet, with each new step it takes, the company becomes more closed. But while closed practices are currently cranking the cash registers in Cupertino, peril lies ahead.

From the early days of development of its Unix-based operating system to its battles with purportedly Orwellian companies like IBM (s IBM) and Microsoft (s MSFT) to the jeans-wearing corporate culture it has always nurtured, Apple has always had an easy time wooing the freewheeling computing counterculture, including the open source community. In recent years, though, even as it has (deservedly) earned “company of the decade” accolades, Apple has become more and more closed.

Tom Foremski recently noted that Apple is actually becoming more closed with every new device it delivers. As he writes:

“Since the introduction of the iPod, iPhone, and now the iPad, Apple is becoming less and less open, it is using fewer standard components and chips, and far fewer Internet technologies common to Mac/PC desktop and laptop systems.”

Foremski also notes that Apple’s upcoming iPad is “a much more closed system than any of Apple’s products from the past 10 years.” It runs only the A4 processor — a chip that other companies can’t buy. It runs a restrictive, non-multitasking operating system: the iPhone OS. Even its connectivity is very limited, and, presumably, ongoing dongles and hardware connectivity options for it will be available mostly just from Apple. Citing “zero-sum maneuvering against hated rivals,” the Wall Street Journal recently took the iPad to task for not supporting common platforms such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight (locking users into iTunes-only content).

Picking up the thread, newly crowned Canonical COO and open source blogger Matt Asay wonders if Apple is the new Microsoft. He asks whether “Apple is the company that creates insanely great business strategies for locking customers into its walled-garden content emporium.”

Proprietary strategies have paid off big time for Apple. Its revenues exploded and its stock soared even as many people questioned its closed practices with the iPod, iTunes and the iPhone. But I predict that the iPad, aggressively closed as it is, will illustrate the folly of remaining strictly closed over the long run.

On a tablet-style device as slick as the iPad is, people will not be content with only the types of applications made available thus far for the iPhone. In fact, Om has predicted that we may see brand new types of applications and web sites crop up specifically for the iPad. If the device becomes popular, people will clamor for an open development environment, and, as I’ve pointed out, they will reach beyond the iPhone OS on the iPad by virtualizing other operating systems that extend to more applications.

As one reader of my post on Citrix’s (s ctxs) virtualization software, which will let iPad users run Windows 7 applications, pointed out, “Most of the REAL work I do happens on remote servers that I access remotely through Citrix.” That’s not true for everyone, but, indeed, there are numerous bridges that require no virtualization that iPad users will take advantage of to reach for cloud-based applications. They’ll use applications in the cloud in the same way that users of Google’s (s goog) Chrome OS will. What they won’t do is just lie down and accept total OS and application lock-down from Apple.

Years ago, when Apple delivered Boot Camp, which allows many Mac users to dual-boot the Mac OS with Microsoft Windows, some observers argued that Hell had frozen over. It hadn’t, though. Apple had no choice but to open its kimono and make a Windows-friendly move in a world teeming with virtualization options. Virtualization was arriving for free in other operating systems.

And that’s exactly the kind of free, open trend that will increasingly foil Apple if it doesn’t pursue more open policies. Virtualization and cloud computing will both, increasingly, usher in a world where it’s commonplace to run multiple operating systems, opening up robust types of choices in applications. Google’s (s Goog) Chrome OS embraces all of this so fully that its users will run all their applications in the cloud.  In the epic square-off between Apple and Google, Google is embracing openness much more than Apple is, and is making lots of money. Open source guru Dana Blankenhorn has noted that Red Hat’s new operating system, virtualization and open cloud initiatives — delivered this week — stand a good chance of stripping away proprietary advantages pursued by Microsoft and Oracle (s orcl).

Free, open tools will arrive for circumventing and complementing Apple’s proprietary platforms. They’ll function as detours around oppressive  obstructions. I’ve heard the arguments against this, such as “Apple designs beautiful products that just work together, and that’s what users want” and “Apple is making tons of money with closed practices” and so on. The company does have to open its policies and practices, though, even as its closed moves keep causing cash registers to ring. Otherwise, new products that reach out to multiple operating systems and much larger appscapes will arrive. And tech  history has shown that he who delivers the largest appscape wins.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Djenan.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d):

With the iPad, Apple Takes Google to the Mat

51 Responses to “Apple Should Open Its Kimono — Pronto”

  1. HTML5 isn’t up to scratch.

    It can’t do all the stuff Flash can.

    It runs slower than Flash.

    It gobbles up more system resources than Flash.

    There are no professional design tools for it.

    Your creations may not run in the next browser version. Flash guarantees this.

    The inconvenient truth is that HTML5 looks unprofessional and slightly odd next to Flash.

  2. @ Rick — If I extrapolate out the argument that dumping things that are extremely widely used is inherently cool, then why not dump displays, operating systems, and human-to-computer interfaces? Why not dump CPU-driven devices altogether? Get back to me when you have the prototype for the replacement.
    Incompatibility does not equal cool.


    • Peter Kropf


      “If I extrapolate out the argument that dumping things that are extremely widely used is inherently cool,”

      Totally bogus reply to what Rick was arguing. Damn pisses me off that you went that far off to mischaracterize his point. Come on, get your game on. (And use the REPLY button when you’re responding to someone!)

  3. timjones17

    Apple keeps turning out overhyped, overpriced trinkets. For stuff that just works for what most people do with it, it’s not an Apple. If they’re even going to get a smartphone, the vast majority of people prefer Nokia’s Symbian and RIM’s Blackberry. As for more capable devices- desktops, laptops, netbooks- it’s not a Mac. For the status-conscious, fashionista wealthy elite with money to burn, it’s Apple trinkets. For the working-class, it’s devices without the Apple logo.

    • … but what about iPods? 70% market share means this product is for the working class and yet it carries an Apple logo. iTunes is the biggest music retailer.

      And an iPhone is priced similarly to competing smartphones. I’m not sure why it then is out of the reach of the working-class.

      RIM is doing quite well and it might be a bit of an untold story that they have increased market share since the iPhone was released if I remember right.

      Nokia Symbian has been steadily losing market share for years although it still leads.

      Of course Windows is on many more computers than OSX is. So good point there that Windows remains the best selling OS. REalize that Apple’s tiny market share is much greater in some segments like those “working-class” college students. Also if you take out business then Apple’s consumer market share is quite a bit higher than it’s paltry 5-10% overall market share.

      Lsat note iPhone had 0% market share less than 3 years ago. And has grown to 10-20% market share (smartphones) despite being on only one carrier in the US.

  4. I have not heard from you (or others) on why should Apple be “more open”? What does it mean to be “more open” and what innovation or value-add it brings to users and more importantly to Apple?
    If by more open, you mean it does anything that other computers/products do, what’s the incentive for any user to go buy Apple’s products?
    If by more open you mean products should be so standardized that the moment you get one, it does what every other competing product does, it would make a heck of an intelligent buy decision, won’t it?
    This argument about “open-ness” is like saying every house should be built on the same plan, so that all the doors, windows, rooms look the same or are at least feel the same. Sure, the owners can decorate differently, but the shell should be the same. So that the plumber can do his job easy, the electrician can do his job easy and so on. Come on!

    A company innovates around areas where it feels convinced and committed to. Because it feels justified in it, puts IT’S own money behind this commitment and designs. It’s MONEY. And if for 10 years consumers have rewarded it for it, it surely speaks VOLUMES about the argument about OPEN:CLOSE.

    Lets look at why the so called open-compliant products don’t hold your fancy or attention or have no lust-factor. Take the marquee off – can you tell the difference between a HP/Dell/Toshiba/Acer/whatever? What’s your user experience with these open systems? If it is about connecting to your different worlds that amounts to openness, what Apple product prevents you from that?

    Your argument about Flash is really not well thought out. You are pissed that Apple could reject Flash because it is buggy and can the system kinda stressed/vulnerable? That’s like saying – “Hey, I can live with a spyware, just show me the movie or freeware. But, when I find out the spyware got my privates all exposed, I will ***”.

    Why has it not occurred to you pundits that Apple could actually be a little responsible toward it’s consumers by taking it’s principles seriously at the cost of diminished economic results? It’s a RISK, if one was to believe the argument that not including Flash was going to kill the iPhone, iPad, iAnything. Or are you convinced that Apple is always evil and self-centered and operates unilaterally? If so, where’s your evidence? And oh, BTW, I imagine you read Adobe’s announcement of a serious hole in Flash yesterday?

    If iTunes was so EVIL, how is it possible that they are headed toward a 10 billion download?

    I do appreciate writings in Gigaom, but this one appeared to be imbalanced in it’s body and spirit. It is important to show cause and effect and also appear balanced to earn the respect of your readers. Or what’s stopping your readers from concluding you are an Apple-hater, if you were to imply that Apple’s consumers are just fanboys.

    Thanks. My $0.02.

  5. @ Darwin — I’ve heard the argument about Flash being a kludge many times, but, nevertheless, the majority of video on the web is Flash. Ignoring it is an obvious attempt to steer users away from a common platform and toward QuickTime and iTunes.


    • A couple of things Sebastian… Flash is closed. HTML5 + H.264/Ogg Theora is open. So try to align your complaints about flash with your desire for openness. Oh wait… you can’t because it’s blatant nonsense. Saying that there’s a lot of Flash content out there today so that Flash must always be supported is a backwards looking argument. Apple’s the same company that abandoned floppy drives on their computers – but floppies were EVERYWHERE! They were doomed!!! Use a floppy lately? Youtube and Vimeo both support H.264 video now for browsers that support that. Hit with Chrome or…. Safari.

      Second, it’s very hard to take someone seriously on technology when they can’t seem to use the Reply button on their own site.

    • The argument seeking Flash support on iPad due to ubiquity of Flash content doesn’t really hold water. There used to be a lot of video on tapes. So, we should never have invented discs. And when there was even more content on DVDs, we invented Blu Ray.

      Format wars on physical media as passe. The new format wars are in the online world.

      Flash might be a bag of hurt for Mac – from a purely iTunes point of view. But as long as Adobe wants to keep Flash closed, the case for HTML 5 stays, and gains in strength.

      While not accepting the case for Flash not being supported by iPad, the case for accelerating HTML 5 is a noble one – iPad policies notwithstanding.

  6. Needed to fill some space today Sebastian? So you know what Apple “needs” to do? based on what…cutting and pasting articles written by a bunch of other pundits who have never built or run a company and have no practically technical knowledge? Yeah, I’m sure they will get right on that.
    Apple is not closed any more than anyone else and in many ways is more open. Apparently you are completely unaware of the huge contributions Apple has made to the open source community. Google it.

    Citing the processors they use for the iPad as something closed is nonsensical.

    Hardcore open source types do not and never have provided “special favor and even zealous worship” to Apple or any other corporate entity. Way to condescend to people who forgotten more than you will ever know though.

    “not supporting common platforms such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight (locking users into iTunes-only content).”

    Apple and many many users do not like Flash because it is a kludge that use ridiculous amounts of resources, is a security nightmare, and is the cause of crashes. How you translate that into locking users into iTunes only content is beyond me. Silverlight is going nowhere. Google HTML 5. Also H.264 while your at it.

    Boot Camp had nothing to do with virtualization as competition. The idea is laughable for a variety of reasons. At a minimum because the world was not “teeming” with free virtualization options at the time and again, very few people want or need to do anything with virtualization on the desktop.

    Your statements that “open” development tools and “platforms”, whatever you mean by that, always win is silly. There are many examples of just the opposite. Given the huge number of iPhone developers I don’t hear a lot of people complaining because they have to use the free Apple development tool called XCode. With HTML 5, which I use for Google Voice on my iPhone, development is even easier.

    “In the epic square-off between Apple and Google,”

    The only people that believe that such a thing is happening are pundits who want something to write about. Same with all the nonsense about “the cloud”. the only people selling “the cloud” are companies that want to make money from it and pundits who want to write about things they don’t understand to fill space. Out here in the real world we know the cloud has major issues with reliability, performance, and security.

    Man I feel dumber every time I read one of your articles. Stick to writing about the latest el cheap windows laptop like you did at PC magazine.

  7. YOu say more closed. I say less hassle.

    You say computer. I say consumer electronics.

    You say ominous. I say finally.

    I think Apple is just doing what videogame console manufacturers have done for decades. They are playing the role of gatekeeper to ensure a smooth customer experience.

    I believe many folks have to wake up to the fact that consumers aren’t begging for “open.” They are begging for less hassle and easier to use.

    They’ll give up a rejected app or two out of 100’s of thousands in order to get it.

  8. Peter Kropf

    Prime question for computing:

    How can we protect our networks and devices from malware and massive foreign sovereign attack?

    I think Apple is developing one ‘closed’ solution based on trusted sw distribution, ability to disable ‘bad’ players, and other means.

    If Apple succeeds (might be impossible) it would actually preserve the ‘open’ internet as we know it today.

    JMHO, but I like their spunk in standing up to the politically correct ‘open’ view.

  9. @ Stark Ravin — Dude, good post! Well written–really. I can’t go along with having outdated opinions, though.
    I’ve still got what it takes, man! Have you heard that Nixon has been impeached? :)
    Seriously, though, you’re right that developers go where the customers are. That’s why there are far more applications for Windows than there are for the Mac.


    • “That’s why there are far more applications for Windows than there are for the Mac.”

      Oh boy.


      Mac developers have far higher profits than Windows developers. Mac users expect much higher quality software than most Windows users. Quantity does not = quality. Most Windows developers would kill to have the job satisfaction and profits of Mac developers instead of churning out some crap in VS. All of the PC companies would like to have Apples profits. Apples quality over quantity is kicking everyones else butts. I’m thinking they are really not needing any advice from you about what they need to do “pronto”.

  10. @sebastian

    Seems like complete wishful thinking to believe that a multi-OS tablet will either be better than the iPad or have more apps than it. If you take all of the existing apps for Android, WebOS, PalmOS, WinMo, Symbian, Maemo, and LiMo, they still don’t exceed what’s currently available for iPhone OS.

    And that’s without considering what a comically nightmarish usability scenario it would be to have one phone running a minimum of seven different operating systems. Other than Flash (which is a terrible resource hog), I don’t see Apple steering away from common formats. At all. If anything, they have embraced AAC, H.264, and HTML5 like few companies on the planet. While the former two aren’t license-free (which is a shame), the’re completely ubiquitous, to the point that all of Hulu uses H.264-encoded videos already and would just need to build a non-Flash player to make it function on the iPad.

    There may be smoke here, but there’s no fire. Open, by itself, means absolutely nothing.

  11. Stark Ravin

    With all due respect to Sebastian, my favorite cranky geek, he’s an old WinTel journalist who grew up during the age of an MIS-driven technology market. He believes in and worships a Windows model of computing that just doesn’t apply anymore. He also doesn’t get that the IT industry is now driven by consumer markets and that completely different dynamics apply here. This is why he keeps saying think like “tech history has shown that he who delivers the largest appscape wins”, the underlying implication being that software platforms where developers can wreck the most havoc win. This also explains why he keeps saying that Android will win the smartphone OS race; again, his head is stuck in an old model of commodity hardware and developer driven/controlled software platforms.

    In the new world, things like stability, branding, packaging and huge marketing campaigns matter much more to the customers that matter: consumers. And you don’t need to have every app on your platform, just 90% of them. At the end of the day, the great majority of developers out there could give a flip about the openness of the platform; what they care about is a platform that can make them money. Newsflash: Windows is a proprietary platform that has made developers billions of dollars over the past 20 years. Apple’s platforms may also be proprietary, and their business practices a bit more closed on top of that, but in the larger scheme of things, it doesn’t all matter to the extent Sebastian thinks it does.

    The iPad is the new model. Consumers just want their stuff to work. They don’t want to customize stuff, they don’t want to hack things, they don’t want to tweak things. They have more important things to do with their time. Up until now, even the traditional windows, icon, mice GUI has just been too complex for the great majority of people to master. This is why consumers took to simple, hosted apps via web browsers so passionately. The iPad is going to move all this to the next level. It is just a Macintosh with a UI that is even easier to use than a web app: a touch UI.

    Sebastian, you’re awesome, man. But get with the program. The platform with the most users wins; developers will go where the customers are. They could give flip how open or closed the platform is; they just want to make money. Until any other platform can prove that, developers will keep dealing with Apple. It is the only show in town.

  12. @ Mark, yep I agree with you that Google tends to be open in ways that benefit it and is not open when it comes to the central revenue-driving engines, and they’ve essentially said as much: Nevertheless, Apple is increasingly steering away from common proprietary standards as well as purely open ones. That can cost plenty down the line. In the case of the iPad, for example, someone could deliver a truly open tablet that runs multiple operating systems and thereby trounces the app availability that there is for the iPhone OS. It might have more flexible hardware connectivity, and be open to media types, including Flash and everything else, that Apple turns a cold shoulder toward.


    • @Sebastian, ironically, I was Comment One on the piece that you referred to because I thought that Google’s position was selective openness, putting it kindly.

      Nonetheless, your assertion that Apple is steering away from standards is a head-scratcher, save for Flash, which while admittedly a HUGELY popular format, is enough of a dog with fleas that at least any Mac owner can attest is as much a liability as an asset. That Apple didn’t opt to extend that migraine onto iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad is, in my opinion, a by-product of Adobe not making Flash run as well on the Mac as it does on Windows.

      Now as to actual open standards that Apple is moving WAY from, I would say pray tell. If anything, Apple’s culture is pretty pro standards, when they make sense from an actual problem/solution perspective, as everybody knows that the great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.

      Otherwise, this is akin to a discussion about vitamins (you should take them, really) in the vitamins-aspirin-penicillin essentialness continuum.

    • “In the case of the iPad, for example, someone could deliver a truly open tablet that runs multiple operating systems and thereby trounces the app availability that there is for the iPhone OS.”

      Its been tried and they have all failed. Maybe, shoulda, woulda, coulda does not translate into Apple needs to do this, whatever this is, pronto. The iPad will sell in huge numbers.

  13. Sebastian, I guess the push-back is “what do you mean by open” and “open for whom?”

    In other words, quibbles aside, developers, the ultimate arbiter of utility, value and ability to get the job done, are flocking to the platform in a big way.

    It’s clearly “open” enough for them to create apps that by any measure haven’t been approached by the more “open” android or any other mobile platform, open or closed.

    As to consumers, the experience is plenty open. The web is wide open if you want that, and they have the best mobile browser. Plus, in terms of openness, the App Store shelves are stocked with variety across pretty much any category that you can imagine.

    If anything, Google’s move to roll out a more proprietary Nexus device speaks volumes that openness is like salt; everyone’s taste buds are a little bit different, and as such, opinions vary widely on what’s the right amount, and what’s too much.

    Net-net: if Google’s the best big company measuring stick of openness, let’s talk when they open up their index, reveal their spread on ad sense or open source, Google Maps, for example.

    Food for thought.


    • Oh its far, far worse than that. Lets have google show just what personal information they collect of their users and how they monetize it without their permission. People should already know this but they don’t. Perceptions of Google would change overnight.

  14. James T. Laing

    I don’t care what you haters say. I’m with Apple – win, lose or draw. And if that means no flash content, then so be it. The HTML 5 Revolution cometh, and that right soon…

  15. @Pete — you make a good point about WebKit, and I am a big fan of it, but it’s an example of exactly what you said about Google…keeping something open when it isn’t the company’s cash cow, while closing things that are cash cows. While some third-parties will have hardware accessories for the iPad, Apple obviously approached connectivity in such a way that it can sell its own hw connectivity options. And I don’t think iTunes deserves to be called open despite any “steps” recently taken.


  16. Excuse me george, but not allowing apps because they embed media and confuse users is a veiled attempt to entrench iTunes. iTunes content is generally open, or can be, so nobody is arguing that point. Mobile is computing however, and if Apple continues to block browsers and such as with Opera, it will be to the detriment of the platform.

    Apple has lovely tech, but the market tactics are really disheartening.

    • Apple has never blocked a single browser on anything. Name one. Opera Mobile btw has not been submitted to the app store. Check your facts. Mozilla has not made an iPhone browser because they said publicly and clearly that they did not see the point since they could not make one as good as mobile safari.

    • Yehuda Katz, a friend, coworker, and generally recognized bright guy, explained why to me.

      Safari is a standards compliant browser. Really standards compliant. But, the standards it supports are license free.

      Video is a huge part of the internet, and is getting more important every day. Do we want any part of the internet based on proprietary formats that are patent encumbered?

      I think not. This is hard on both Apple, its users, and Adobe. But, in the long run, we’ll all appreciate it.

      HTML 5 is the way forward towards openness.

      From where I sit, I’m comfortable with Apple creating any sort of walled garden it wants, so long as the browser remains standards compliant.

    • (I for myself don’t care about most of the online video.)
      Why is it delivered via flash? Maybe because Adobe was in a lucky position some years ago and they catched the market; but markets change (hello, html5).
      However, content dealers realized already that THEY lose business if they don’t offer their content in a standards-compatible way (this excludes Flash). Easy as that.
      P. S. I’m looking forward to the day when Adobe will deliver a Flash performance on mobile pocket computers which will provide a decent user experience (dare I say good or excellent). Won’t happen IMO but we’ll see. Adobe has nothing to deliver at the moment. Zero. Bye, Flash. That I’ll see the day without Flash, wonderful. Peace.

    • Adobe sits on Flash – it is totally stagnant. They only have a 32 bit binary and it won’t run on any of Apple’s (or anybody’s) portable hardware. The chips can’t do it.

    • Sebastian, isn’t Flash, at least the video portion simply a wrapper around h.264 and many other codecs. I think it is, Flash is simply a wrapper with a .flv or f4v that is open, but most of the video codecs and compression formats within the wrapper are patented and have to be licensed. How then is the use of Flash different from simply using .h264 or possibly even using Quicktime as the wrapper?

      What is the big deal really? Why should Apple support Adobe at all in a competitive marketplace. Shouldn’t we allow users to choose. If enough people choose the iPad or iPhone or whatever and if Flash dies and as along as Apple doesn’t act illegally what is wrong with that? I feel the people who are complaining are people with a vested interest in the use of Flash, flash developers and websites that have committed to using Flash and non of this is expressed by the people making the complaints.

      If Apple’s approach is closed, then it should fail in the market place and if it does not then perhaps there is room for a closed approach.

    • Sean Fitts

      Actually I think this is dead on. Apple wants to lock in folks to their content delivery system and it is not above locking out competitors to do so.

      In fact its app store policies explicitly disallow the creation of applications which replicate core functionality. So if I’m Amazon and I want to create an application for the iPad that allows users to directly purchase, download and consume my content (all of which duplicates functionality provided by Apple) will I be allowed to do so? And don’t give me the “you can switch to your PC, buy the content their, move it under iTunes, sync to the iPad” argument – yes that’s technically possible but since one of the main drivers here is convenience it is not really competing on even footing.

      If Apple permits such applications to run on their devices, then for me that’s open enough – but so far they have not shown such a willingness.

      • nobody is barred from using amazon and their downloader, for example (which populates downloads in your itunes folder)…..Control over user experience and presentation is what Apple uses to distinguish itself in the market. Hard to find fault in an operating model. Avoid it if it rubs you wrong, right?

  17. It is the height of absurdity to claim Apple is more closed today than it ever has been. At least on the software front, it’s far more open. WebKit is the basis of every mobile browser worth its salt, and Apple has made its source available to everyone for free. Music sold through iTunes today can play on virtually any media player, which is a big step up from years ago.

    And citing the A4 as a sign of closedness is downright silly. It’s just a custom ARM processor, no different in that way from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon. But Qualcomm’s business model makes selling their chip to other companies a priority, while Apple’s business model makes using their chip only in their products a priority. To call Qualcomm open and Apple closed in this situation would be the height of absurdity — neither’s giving away their processor design for free or open-sourcing it, they’re just selling to different customers. No multitasking is a closed philosophy? How? A

    nd Apple has shown it’s more than willing to open up the port on the bottom of the iPad and iPhone to outside development. Just today, Apple approved a third-party to market and sell RS-232 and RJ-11 adapters for iPad and iPhone, which seems antithetical to a company intent on keeping other hardware out.

    This is a lot of hype from companies whose survival depends on painting Apple as closed-loop. The question to ask, however, is why anyone thinks Google is more open than Apple. They share some APIs for mash-ups as it suits them, and Android and Chrome are open-source. But GMail is totally closed down. The search algorithm is ridiculously closed. Google leaves everything that they make no money from free and open, and they close down everything to do with their business model.

    Sound familiar?