Friday, May 21, 2010

In other news, pot calls kettle black...

Just read an unintentionally hilarious article on AppleInsider -
Some executive at Google reportedly called Apple "Big Brother" in a reference to the famous 1984 commercial that announced the Mac.

Hilarious, because I don't think he could have put his foot in his mouth more effectively, and more publicly. Considering all the news around Google's privacy violations, and all the attempts by Google to ingrain itself in pretty much every single aspect of our lives, it is quite obvious who Big Brother is. In fact, the surveillance society referred to in the 1984 book eerily resembles Google.

I guess he refers to Big Brother not in a surveillance kind of way, but more about the fact that Apple does not give any choice to the developer or to the user. Steve Jobs decides how things should be, and that is the way things will be. Like as if Google gives its users all the flexibility they want. I remember years back when I signed up for GMail, I did not like the conversational style of GMail - and wanted to revert to the regular email style that you see in Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. Guess what - Google decided for me that GMail would stay conversational - no option to use regular mails. I haven't checked lately, but I wouldn't be surprised if that is still the case!

At least, the choices Steve Jobs makes are acceptable to the vast majority of end-users. It is usually only the tech geeks who feel crippled by Apple's restrictions. There are things that I have wished were different with Apple, but for the most part, things just work. Of all the people complaining about a non-replaceable battery, I wonder how many of them ACTUALLY carry a spare battery? The dramatic success of the iPhone has showed that the "restrictions" in the iPhone haven't really affected demand for the product.

Google acts and operates as if they are champions of Open Source, and everything they do is open. However, even a cursory look at Google reveals that the only things that are Open at Google are things they don't expect to make money on - and all their crown jewels are safely locked inside a proprietary safe.

There is another interesting comment this guy made - "If Google did not act, we faced a Draconian future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice. That's a future we did not want." The thing is, Google bought Android in 2005, well before the public launch of the iPhone. Quite obviously, they knew about the iPhone by 2005, and *specifically* bought Android to combat the launch of the device. If this is not an act of corporate espionage by Eric Schmidt, I don't know what is.

In fact, I firmly believe that Apple is very close to launching a major change in plans for AppleTV - launching a subscription model for iTunes content, together with tie-ups for live News and Sports broadcasts. This would finally offer users a viable alternative to CableTV. Google, by virtue of Eric Schmidt's board seat, obviously knew this was coming, and this is the motivation behind yesterday's announcement of GoogleTV. We will see more such vaporware announcements from Google, over the next few months - but thankfully, will end soon, because Apple realized the folly of having Eric Schmidt on the board last year.

Point 6 of Google's charter says - it is possible to make money without doing evil - and their motto is "Do no evil". I think Google needs to look at the mirror and see if they are living up to their ideals. They have clearly shown that they are OK with evil if it serves their interests - see their actions in China, and how they changed their minds only when they got bitten. Their track record of IP/copyright violations, is also indicative of the same malaise.

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