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01.30.10

GNU/Linux Yawns at Apple’s Large iPhone (Without the Phone Functionality)

Posted in Apple, DRM, FSF, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Open XML, OpenDocument, UNIX at 11:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Further analysis (hopefully the last) of Apple’s “disappointing” product and how it compares to many GNU/Linux counterparts

A FEW days ago we showed how Apple had generated hype about its rather disappointing new product. Dave Rosenberg, a Mac enthusiast, calls it “important but disappointing”. They probably didn’t send him a free one, so he does not feel obliged to hail it. Yesterday we showed that even fans of Apple were disappointed by iPad, so it’s not just the opinion of one person. There are of course iPhone lovers like Stephen O’Grady (it’s fair enough that some people believe in accepting DRM without resisting), but he too has his doubts. There are even cartoons on the subject.

Is Apple running out of ideas and jumping the shark? Probably not, as Apple did have some other products which were total flops and neglected before they rose to fame. Every company occasionally makes such mistakes (Microsoft released Windows Vista for example). Can the Apple iPad challenge Linux-powered products that predate it? This question is being addressed here and here:

The kit, Amazon said, will comprise of sample code, ample documentation and, most importantly, a Kindle simulator that will allow developers to “build and test” their application in a virtual platform that mimics 6-inch Kindle and 9.7-inch Kindle DX in Mac, PC, and Linux environments.

Worth mentioning is the story about Apple’s total disregard for other people’s intellectual monopolies. Apple must have known that “iPad” as a trademark was already taken and there is a battle going on over it right at this moment.

Fujitsu: ‘iPad? That’s ours’

In addition to ignoring support for Adobe Flash, multitasking, and a few other niceties in its new iPad, Apple seems to have ignored one other important detail: it doesn’t own the name “iPad.” Fujitsu says it does.

That’s a good opening. Apple’s iPad is basically a toy without even some features of other phones (a lot of phones multitask for example). CNN dares to put “Oversized iPhone” in the headline, which is rather telling. A German reader of ours told us last night: “the ipad is a bad joke from a technical point of view. but usability seems to be good and innovative”

SJVN has already explained why GNU/Linux still beats Apple on technical grounds (not fake, theatrical hype) and a new article from Jim Zemlin’s blog has something similar to say:

You might expect the Executive Director of the Linux Foundation to state with full confidence that Linux-based competitors will crush the iPad. Linux *can* compete in one area. $499 – $829 may be a breakthrough price for Apple and their margins, but it’s no comparison to the price competition Linux-based devices can offer. Vendors creating Tablets, slates, phones or other devices do not have to pay the per-unit pricing of other platforms. Apple products command a premium and Jobs will never cannibalize their pricing power.

Also in the news:

Apple’s iPad vs Notion Ink’s Adam tablet with Ubuntu: battle of two worlds

The “desktop” is easy to use in both environment, very similar application startup and indicators. The Ubuntu OS will run several applications in parallel while you will be able to use only one app ata time on the iPad. (see about this later)

Eight ways Android and Linux tablets can beat Apple’s iPad

Apple’s newly announced iPad has been touted as “magical,” “amazing,” and “revolutionary” by company officials. But, key deficiencies in the device provide opportunities for competitors, who can craft better tablets that run Linux or Android.

Acer promises cloudbook, app store and ereader

Acer’s cloudbook will be one of the first to the shelves, expected to ship around September in the US and in Europe shortly afterwards. Unlike Acer’s existing Linux netbooks, this product will run Chrome OS only, to keep battery life long and prices low. The company already offers netbooks running Android or other Linux variants, but always as a second option alongside Windows. Users can then rely on the Linux element for fast boot-up, low power and optimal web performance, and turn on Windows for more high power apps. Google claims Chrome OS, which is an ultralite browser-based OS – just an overlay on a very basic embedded Linux system – will bridge the divide and make Windows unnecessary, as the powerful services and heavy duty data will be held in the cloud.

Even last night we gave some new examples of GNU/Linux-powered tablets. The market is full of them because they work well, not because the vendors are “fans” of GNU/Linux.

Silicon Valley Watcher complains that Apple continues to distance itself from standards with each new device, the latest being iPad:

But over the past ten years, since the introduction of the iPod, iPhone, and now the iPad, Apple is becoming less and less open, it using fewer standard components and chips, and far fewer Internet technologies common to Mac/PC desktop and laptop systems.

The iPhone and iPad, for example, doesn’t support common Internet platforms such as Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight. That means you cannot watch streaming video from Hulu, or Netflix.

And while iPhone chips are available from other manufacturers, the iPad runs only on the A4 processor — an Apple designed chip that no one else can buy.

As we explained before, Apple is also a proponent of OOXML (being a friend of Microsoft) and people keep complaining about it. One person wrote this week: “iWork on iPad still doesn’t support ODF”

This is a shame because Apple embraced UNIX but it seems to deviate from universality. Timothy Lee, a notable and effective critic of intellectual monopolies, has published “the case against the iPad” where he states that Apple also fights freedom of information:

Apple is fighting against powerful and fundamental economic forces. In the short term, Apple’s technological and industrial design prowess can help to prop up dying business models. But before too long, the force of economic gravity will push the price of content down to its marginal cost of zero. And when it does, the walls of Apple’s garden will feel a lot more confining. If “tablets” are the future, which is far from clear, I’d rather wait for a device that gives me full freedom to run the applications and display the content of my choice.

Update: I guess I’ve been brainwashed by my iPhone not to notice this, but the other glaring flaw, as this post explains, is the lack of standard ports. The net effect of this is, again, to give Apple complete control over the platform’s evolution, because the only way to interact with the thing is through the proprietary dock connector. Again, this made a certain amount of sense on the iPhone, where space, weight, and ergonomics are at a premium. But it’s totally unacceptable for a device that aims to largely displace my laptop. Hell, even most video game consoles have USB ports.

In the words of another person, “iPad is scary, but its strategy is moreso: #Apple unveiled by far the most restrictive platform ever seen.”

An ‘Apple Cult’ site (CultOfMac.com) has brought up the FSF’s campaign against the iPad, which is a good sign. It means that the issues are being raised and the most sensitive crowd is receiving a bit of increased awareness of what Apple does to the users’ rights and freedom. This is not a case of preaching to the choir or to the converted, so well done, FSF.

Novell’s Zonker denounces this great campaign from the FSF, but then again, he happily tells lies about the FSF by misquoting or misrepresenting. Novell is no friend of the FSF.

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