Forbes: Is Apple the New Microsoft?

OSNews points to the Forbes story Forbes: Is Apple The New Microsoft?. “This potential threat to first amendment rights and Apple’s crackdown on Web sites that, in general, love the company and its products, do nothing to bolster Apple’s image. In fact, the company’s success of late has yielded accusations of bullying and potentially unlawful business tactics, not to mention complaints that songs purchased from its iTunes music service, the dominant digital music store, don’t work with music players other than its own. To some, that might sound like its neighbor to the north,” says Forbes.

I find this a funny question on many levels. Is Apple mis-using it’s 2% of the PC market to push people around? Is it misusing its large share of the mobile music player market? Is it cutting off the oxygen supply of its competitors? It’s quite a picture, Steve Jobs cutting off Bill Gates oxygen supply, eh? Maybe Apple is beating down Sony. Maybe not.

I also get a chuckle that the nastiest thing Forbes can think of calling Apple is “Microsoft.” What does that say about our attitude about the most successful software company of all time, that Forbes talks about them like they are all felons?

What Apple is doing is using incredibly heavy-handed tactics to handle a an in-house problem: chasing down a leak inside the organization by roasting some online web sites. Does ThinkSecret qualify as a journalist under California’s shield laws? I think perhaps it should. And I think Apple is doing nothing to please its customers, nor is their negative press helping their shareholders (Disclosure: I am both a customer and shareholder. I liked the iMac so much, I bought the company, well, ~0.000000001% of it)

On the ProFox Forum in January, Michael Oke, II pointed to yet another article claiming that Apple was becoming the next Microsoft. It’s an easy phrase to quip, but it’s pretty poor rhetoric.

I don’t think that Apple is the next Microsoft, any more than RedHat is. On the other hand, I think that Microsoft is what IBM used to be, and that AOL isn’t what Novell used to be. Novell isn’t what Novell used to be, either, since they are really what CTP was. SCO isn’t what SCO used to be, since it used to be a Microsoft spin-off, before it became Caldera and then SCO. On the other hand, Caldera isn’t the DR it used to be, either. AT&T isn’t Ma Bell or “The Phone Company” any more, but they still have the Death Star logo. These comparisons serve little if any purpose.

Apple sells a product, the iPod, and they sell music to play on it. You can play the music on the PC you download it to, or burn it to CD. You can get MP3s from other places and play them in iTunes, too, and play them on the iPod.

Apple does use Digital Restriction Management, DRM, which is dumb, wasteful, doesn’t work, and just annoys people.

Compare and contrast this with Microsoft, found guilty of unfair business practices, “cutting off the oxygen supply” of its competitors.

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