Is Apple the New Microsoft?
Interesting article that I found in Neowin: Back Page News.
Ten years ago, Microsoft was the company everyone loved to hate.
The most vociferous Microsoft haters slammed the company for being a greedy industry bully that used its monopolistic, clunky, copycat operating system to force software on users and coerce partners into unfair licensing deals.
Don’t look now, but the role of the industry’s biggest bully is increasingly played by Apple, not Microsoft. Here’s a look at how Apple has shoved Microsoft aside as the company with the worst reputation as a monopolist, copycat and a bully.
Apple the monopolist
The core complaint about Microsoft in the 1990s was that its Windows market share gave it monopoly power, which it abused in multiple ways. Attorneys General and others zeroed in on the “bundling” of the Internet Explorer Web browser, which they claimed was forced on users because Microsoft offered it as part of Windows.
People love iPods (including me; my family of four has purchased 12 iPods in the past few years). But iPods come bundled with iTunes. Want to buy music from Apple? Guess what? You must install iTunes. Want an Apple cell phone from AT&T? Yep! ITunes is required even if you want only to make phone calls. Want to buy ringtones for your Apple phone? ITunes.
Apple not only “bundles” iTunes with multiple products, it forces you to use it. At least with Internet Explorer, you could always just download a competitor and ignore IE.
Not fair, you might say. Any hardware device that syncs data with a PC as part of its core functionality has software to facilitate that syncing. True enough. But operating systems have browsers as part of core functionality, too. Doesn’t Mac OS X come with Safari? Doesn’t the iPhone?
And “bundling” works. Steve Jobs bragged this week that Apple has distributed 600 million copies of iTunes to date. The overwhelming majority of those copies were iTunes for Windows. And iTunes for Windows’ popularity isn’t driven by software product quality. ITunes is the slowest, clunkiest, most nonintuitive application on my system. But I need it because I love my iPods.
At least with Windows, you could reformat your PC and install Linux or any number of other PC-compatible operating systems. Can I reformat my iPod and install something else? Can I uninstall iTunes but keep using the iTunes store and my iPods? Apple strongly discourages all that, claiming that the iPod, the iPod software and iTunes are three components of the same product. But that’s what Microsoft said about Windows and IE.