Apple is Open… and So Is Android and Windows and…

This is ridiculous. Open isn’t what you think it means. Open means anyone can use it and expand upon it and modify it.

Apple makes open systems, folks. Last time I checked I can write apps for iPhone, iPad and Mac OS X. I can do the same thing for the web, for Windows, for Android and Chrome OS, among other platforms. Even Kindle is open. From that perspective, they are all open systems.

So Google let’s me muck around with the source code. So what? How many people really do that?

We used to say Microsoft is open because people can make whatever hardware they want. Well, they all made the same hardware and no one could see the source code. So how open is that?

Google’s different, since you can play with source code. And look at what that’s doing for developers, creating a device-by-device decision rather than supporting the platform. Will it be on more devices? In time it could. Could there be more Android devices than Apple devices? Of course that’s possible. But it’s still not an issue of open. That’s a licensing decision.

Google and Microsoft believe in specialization. They make the software, someone else makes the hardware. Apple’s fundamental belief is that consumer markets require the whole stack. They must be able to rely on the device, the monitor, the software, the whole enchilada.

That doesn’t make Apple closed. It makes Apple different.