Is Apple not “Pro Choice?”

My brother blogged on his thoughts concerning Apple’s “walled garden” comparing it more to a grocery store, or to a “boxed software” store–sacrificing choice for security.  (Oddly a familiar refrain since 2001–sacrificing degrees of freedom for a “sense” of security.)

I like the grocery store analogy, but he didn’t  go where I thought he would.

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I thought he was going to go with the “General Store” analogy where Mr Ike (remember the Waltons?) would be behind the counter. You would go the counter with your mom’s list and he would get everything for you. No real choice in manufacturer of flour, or sugar, or even fabric. You bought what he bought, and brought.

Then we had the advent of the supermarket. You, the consumer, could now peruse from a vast array of similar products, deciding which ones of the myriad choices was right for you. Let’s take my favorite example: tomato paste. You want Heinz? Hunts? Giant store brand? Great Value? You want 4 oz? 8? 16? 32? The killer 64 oz? The assortment just of tomato based products is staggering–yet all choices we have.

Our choices remain limited by that which Walmart, or Giant, or Wegman’s chooses to stock, but (at least in the 2 former cases) they are limited by fiscal and physical constraints, and not some artistic and aesthetic focus.

If you don’t like the choices at one grocery store, you can simply go to another.

Apple is somewhere between these. They aren’t limiting us to only one choice (but oh happy day if we only could be annoyed by one fart app instead of 300!)

Apple however does limit choice. They not only control the store, but they won’t let you go to another store (without forcing you to make ‘unauthorized changes” to your device. Now, I hear the response–”you can go to another store–get a different phone!” But that’s not really the same.

In the analogy of the grocery store I have a device that I use to consume a product (my stomach, and all pertinences attached thereto). I am able to choose between a selection of products that I consume, but the device of consumption stays the same.

In the Apple model, I am forced to forgo a consumption device (one that might have a large number of appealing factors) for the “option” to consume a different assortment of products.

I don’t see why it has to be “either, or.” This Cartesian Anxiety must stop. Tell us that we are “safest” if we shop in the company store. But let us choose (perhaps through an “opt in” feature that won’t cause nightmares with firmware updates) to choose a different store. Let the consumer decide on the risks of consumption, while allowing us to have the same consumption device.

Let us “choose.”

Does Apple not have the “Stomach” for that?