Bill Gates

Why Open Source needs Apple – and so does the rest of the industry…

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at D5.
Image via Wikipedia

I know. The new shinys are out.

iPhone 4 first hands-on! (update: FaceTime video demo)

iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 3GS: the tale of the tape
iPhone OS 4 unveiled, adds multitasking, shipping this summer

I love the iPhone 4, but still love my 3Gs, am in no hurry to upgrade, no need:) The software upgrade to 4.0 OS will be snazzy and spiffy, but I am a tad disappointed that the iPhone OS 4 not coming to the iPad until the fall. (I am trying to figure out when that actually is).

Yet we all know what a closed wall system Apple is. How on earth can that be good for FLOSS – Free / Libre Open Source Software? Well, it is just the kick that developers need. Hardware and software. Apple really sets a benchmark in how beautiful their hardware and software can be, they make objects that are actually amazing to use – and they set the level. Android is a case in point. Google is doing amazing things with Android, but I don’t think anyone actually thinks they are not following what Apple does, and striving to better it, do even more amazing things.

Hardware manufacturers are all now falling over themselves to make amazing tablet devices, similar to the iPad – tablets were dead in the water, despite Microsoft making many attempts – including the much under rated and (when I had one, utterly admired) HPT1100. People do not want a tablet with a stylus. Apple has totally made developers rethinks how people interact – the tactile experience of moving apps around a screen – the notion of an onscreen keyboard you could actually touch as preferred input was anathema until Apple did it, and did it so well.

Smart phones generally follow the Apple path now. (Except that noted hold out, Blackberry, which s a class unto itself, and good luck to them). Phone manufacturers have looked to Android as a saviour, as their in house attempts (I am looking at you, PalmOS) were going nowhere, fast.

OSX Snow Leopard, the current version of the Apple Operating System is clearly the inspiration behind Gnome, the main interface behind the Ubuntu project – the inspiration, but they have done even more amazing things. They lack the polish of the Mac version at times, but there are features I honestly wish Apple would notice and incorporate too. I am certain that while Apple leads the way, they also watch – and learn. When they release, they may release a similar product to existing ones – but it t will take the idea and make it seem as if unrealised before, half imagined, and now a complete vision.

Apple, once a flailing company, bailed out by Bill Gates (one has to wonder how he feels now?), upon Steve Jobs‘ return, has transformed into a maker of technology as almost art.

Steve Jobs will always be Willy Wonka to me – the Gene Wilder version, that menacing, magical dreamer of dreams, harsh with fools, but generous to those who get it.

That is why the hype. Deride us as fanboys (ahem, and girls thank you) all you like, Apple users do not just buy for the shiny name aspect (though one imagines there are always some that buy for brand alone). There are those of us who use their products and fall, like Alice, done the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Or perhaps, even more aptly, we choose to walk through the Looking Glass. (Much more apt – as everyone else is running the Red Queen’s race to catch up…)

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