Google/Apple Feud Gets More Impassioned, Personal

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A Google employee expressed his distaste for the way Apple does business in no uncertain terms in a recent blog post. Tim Bray, a co-inventor of XML and a well-known blogger in his own right, is also a Google employee on the Android team, having recently joined following his time at Sun Microsystems.

The blog post at issue, which appeared on his personal blog, details his reasons behind joining Google, which include a passion for the rapid pace of development on the platform and the fact that it’s an open source system. Another reason is that he “hates” the iPhone. Or at least the context in which the iPhone operates.

Bray doesn’t shy away from sharing his opinion of what Apple’s done wrong with the iPhone, in no uncertain terms:

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.

I hate it.

I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient.

The big thing about the Web isn’t the technology, it’s that it’s the first-ever platform without a vendor (credit for first pointing this out goes to Dave Winer). From that follows almost everything that matters, and it matters a lot now, to a huge number of people. It’s the only kind of platform I want to help build.

Apple apparently thinks you can have the benefits of the Internet while at the same time controlling what programs can be run and what parts of the stack can be accessed and what developers can say to each other.

I think they’re wrong and see this job as a chance to help prove it.

Even though I wasn’t sad to see Apple nix a whole host of “sexy” apps recently, I can’t help but agree with where Tim Bray is coming from. Apple is effectively packaging and selling back to us a polished and pristine version of what we used to have only free and unfettered access to. Giving them too much control might start to inhibit our ability to continue to have that free access.

I’m not sure handing the reins to Google won’t have the exact same effect in the long run, but that isn’t what will happen if some people side with them in this developing conflict. Luckily, unlike in professional sports, there doesn’t have to be a winner in clashes between mobile device makers. A healthy balance should keep the power of both in check.

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