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04.15.10

The High Cost of Disposable Proprietary Products

Posted in Africa, Apple, Asia, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There is No Apple in Africa and China, Just Labour Abuses

Ballmer's slide on Macs and GNU/Linux
Steve Ballmer’s presentation slide
from 2009 shows GNU/Linux as bigger than Apple on the desktop

Summary: Another look at Apple’s niche business and Microsoft’s exploitation that are the lesser-known sides of their operations

IN OUR WIKI we now have some new pages about the sins of Apple, primarily organised under the following indices: Apple Deception | Apple’s Dark Side | Apple Versus Partners | Apple on Software Patents | Apple vs HTC | hypePad Watch | Apple Helping Microsoft

“Apple remains a company that targets just a niche with products which are irrelevant in much of the world…”We shall continue to stress quite strongly that criticising Microsoft alone would be misguided; the problem is proprietary software, not just Microsoft. The Redmond-based company just happens to be more criminal than the rest of the bunch and it is also attacking GNU/Linux like no other proprietary software company (even many of them combined).

We continue to emphasise that Web surveys that are concentrated outside the West (and Japan) will show almost no Apple products at all; Apple’s Mac OS X is not Windows’ main rival, GNU/Linux is. Apple remains a company that targets just a niche with products which are irrelevant in much of the world; its customers consumers have more money than they need, based on new reports such as this one. “More Than 40% of iPad Users Own iPhone, Earn More Than $100,000,” says the headline. Apple is profitable because of overpricing.

Ghabuntu, an excellent Web site which is based in Africa, can attest to the fact that Apple is absent in Africa. This does not surprise us.

I have never used a single Apple product in my life before, and never dream to. With the way Apple is increasingly blazing the way to turning people into mere consumers, where you in reality do not *own* what you buy, I feel very sad for what the future holds should Jobs get his way.

I also find it very sad the way people, some from very reputed so called research firms are rushing head over heels to tell us how useful the iPad is, even though it is manifestly clear that the device is at best, a solution looking for a problem. And to those that are touting it as revolutionary device, I can only sympathize with their extreme love and fanboyism for everything Apple.

This is probably a good time to also announce Ghabuntu’s “OMG Africa! Linux Project” [Web site], the press release of which we appended in full at the bottom (for maximal exposure).

There is a vast untapped market available here where Linux in particular and Open Source Software in general have a lot of gains to make. But these gains will not come without efforts on the part of all FOSS proponents. It is in this light that we would like to present to you and seek your involvement in the OMG Africa! Linux Project.

Earlier today we wrote about the real cost of Apple and Microsoft to society at large (including externalities that Western people are encouraged not to pay attention to). Here is news coverage — gathered just hours ago — to remind us of the ethical factor when choosing software and hardware (whose consumption is typically paced by the software):

With help from its regular boosters (Microsoft Nick in this case), Microsoft is already trying to spin this by charactering itself as an “investigator” in this issue (the same PR tactics were used when Conficker hit the world [1, 2, 3]).

“..Microsoft is already trying to spin this by charactering itself as an “investigator” in this issue (the same PR tactics were used when Conficker hit the world).”As we wrote earlier today, although Apple relies on such labour as well, Microsoft’s strong public support of China’s regime [1, 2] does not serve it in this case. It’s also a breach of the Chinese law, based on several articles. So when Steve Ballmer says that they obey Chinese laws, do think twice. “Microsoft accused of condoning labour abuses,” says the headline of this one report. We mustn’t be selfish. The United States only amounts to about 4% of the world’s population, with just over 10% if Europe is added. There is a vast world around us and to pretend the system works perfectly well for “us” is to assume that “us” means the privileged percentiles. Needless to say, electronic waste is infamously being shipped to Africa and China where it pollutes the air and the water, leading to higher child mortality rates, terminal illness, and environmental eye sores.

GNU/Linux would be better at enabling solidarity, facilitating freedom, and increasing parity. It also strives to reduce waste by maximising reuse. It’s better for society but worse for GDP-driven corporations.


Introducing the OMG Africa! Linux Project

Though a great concept and model, the use and adoption of Free and Open Source Software in Africa is very negligible. This is not because Windows and other proprietary software are better, but because not much is being done by those of us in the FOSS world to bring it to Africa.

There is a vast untapped market available here where Linux in particular and Open Source Software in general have a lot of gains to make. But these gains will not come without efforts on the part of all FOSS proponents.  It is in this light that we would like to present to you and seek your involvement in the OMG Africa! Linux Project.

Essentially, the Project has 3 main objectives

1. To increase the use and adoption of Linux in Africa: We hope to achieve this by educating people and small businesses about the massive advantages Linux has over other systems. To increase accessibility to Linux ISOs, we would seek volunteers who would be willing to mail FREE copies of pre-burned CDs containing Linux distros to those who have no internet connection to download.

“There is a vast untapped market available here where Linux in particular and Open Source Software in general have a lot of gains to make.”2. Help curb the e-waste menace that is engulfing most parts of the continent: Given that Linux is free and runs on not so new hardware, the scourge of e-waste -which is mostly outdated computers that are dumped on us by advanced countries- can be reduced to the barest minimum by giving second lives to computers that would have ended as scrap because they are too old to run Windows. A look at this video titled from Anwerp to Ghana (my country) is ample evidence of the severity of the e-waste menace.

3. Find ways in which Linux in particular and Open Source Software in general can be used to enhance the quality of education here in Africa.

The goals and objectives of this humble but ambitious project cannot be realized without the active involvement of every single one of you wonderful FOSS  proponents.  If there is one thing that sets Linux apart from Windows, it is the strong community that surrounds it. Now we humbly  implore the power of this community of which we all belong, to help bring Linux and Open Source Software to Africa and help improve lives.

You can contribute in a diverse number of ways to this project, two of which are volunteering to send out a FREE Linux CD and joining or starting discussions on how to achieve the set objectives of the project. If you ever wondered if there was any way Linux could be of use in any way other than on the PC, then you definitely have a role to play in the OMG Africa! Linux Project.

You can join the project Facebook page , follow on Twitter or subscribe to the official blog of the project to keep in touch with it at all times. We also are open to your ideas, feedback, suggestions, constructive criticisms and general advice and opinions on how we can improve the project.

Once again, the noble goals of this project cannot be realized without your active involvement. Every single member we have counts towards achieving these goals. Why not join us right now and start a discussion? Can you help us reach a 100 members today?

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