Should Our Needs Conform to Tools, or Tools Conform to our Needs
There's a great diversity of passionate opinion pieces on the recent tablet from Apple, my own among them. It's not that the iPad is particularly good or evil. It is inherently more closed, controlled, and more of a media consumption device. It's great for users that you don't trust. It exposes a variation in need that can only be fulfilled when we cross the bridge from provider/consumer to personalized and distributed designs. Cost is the only thing stopping me from writing up my own requirements for a hardware spec and getting it manufactured.
As a founder and part time web developer it's tough for me to want to step back to writing software for dedicated devices, but there's clearly a gravity of consumer funding supporting quality applications. This is the true battlefront for closed devices. If corporations guarantee an army of consumers hungry for software, developers looking to make lunch money will write apps for that ecosystem.
Closed systems are also an invitation to be opened by other software. Opening one channel at a time can be sold like features to users. The easier the hack the more it will spread. It's possible with the right applications, to make the iPad a more read/write computer like platform.
- Run code to hack the OS. This has the unfortunate side effect of requiring unhacking to get updates, and then rerunning the code to root the system. It's is also a breach of contract with Diablo (Apple)
- The first is a choice of popular browsers. Since when did Safari translate as the web? I'm not a huge fan of the Internet Explorer, but I'd prefer it over Safari at the moment. It can run a Chrome frame, and both can support Flash.
- Built in cloud storage and syncronization. This is where an app like DropBox or Evernote can free the device. By allowing me to syncronize files I can do things like play any media I own. The media wall would be broken. Michelle gets a cool song/video and wants to share it, no problem she just drops it into my Dropbox. If I enjoy it, I buy the album, blog about it and evangelize it to my friends
- Virtual operating system application like VMware or VirtualBox. Need multithreading and your favorite software installed? Just fire up an Android, Linux, or Windows virtual system. Even better let me install another OS and virtualize the iPhone Mac OS under it
Technology Changes Behavior, Behavior Alters Technology
DRM is a poor man's attempt at leasing media. If folks really want to share something, that benefits the content creator and provider in all rationale distribution systems. We are a culture that supports what we love. That includes groovy gadgets like tablets. But as long as corporations like Apple don't trust us as users, the door remains open for a competitor to snatch the opportunity.