Apple, Safari, iPhones and the reek of Microsoft

Apple's Safari update sounds a lot like Microsoft. Shame on Apple for taking this route to customer adoption.

Last week Apple decided to try its hand at bundling. Tying is just around the corner.

Apple already has a place on the desktops of many Windows users through iTunes. Like Microsoft before it, Apple figured this was a great Trojan Horse to start pushing its other software. Like Microsoft before it, Apple stepped over the line, as John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla,suggested:

What Apple is doing now with their Apple Software Update on Windows is wrong. It undermines the trust relationship great companies have with their customers, and that's bad -- not just for Apple, but for the security of the whole Web.

John then goes on to say he's not against Apple's use of iTunes to push the Safari browser. He's wrong. Larry Dignan suggests John's complaint stems from Mozilla trying to protect its lucrative search relationship with Google. He's wrong, too.

If a browser had anything to do with iTunes, this wouldn't be so egregiously bad. But it doesn't. No, Apple's move bears the imprint of a would-be monopolist that cares more about its market position than its customers. I'm guessing it has little to do with Safari and much to do with...the iPhone.

I'm a huge Apple fan. I have a few Macs, iPods, and iPhones. But I don't want my entire computing experience dominated by any one vendor, including one that I like and trust as much as I do Apple. For this reason I consciously choose to use a variety of different software applications on my Mac, much of them open source.

So, I don't use Safari and can't fathom any reason for a Windows user to adopt it. It's a great browser but...who cares? It doesn't provide any differentiation that Internet Explorer or Firefox don't already provide.

Except for its tie to the iPhone, of course. Safari is the application platform Apple uses for its iPhone. Why should Apple care about which browser you use? Because it cares about which phone you use. Apple won't sell a single license to Safari, but it's definitely hoping to sell you a boatload of iPhones.

All of which makes me highly disappointed in Apple's decision to force Safari on users through its iTunes update service. "Safari-gate" couldn't have happened with open source, as iTWire notes. It doesn't work in a transparent, trust-based relationship.

It only works when Apple starts to betray Microsoft-esque tendencies, tendencies which we should help to squash. Immediately. Before Apple begins to rely on its market position more than the quality of its products, in ways similar to how Microsoft has grown.

Apple makes incredible products. I bought the Macs because they're better. I love my iPhone for the same reason. I, and millions of others, don't need to be tricked into adopting Apple's software and hardware. We just need to be given a compelling reason to switch. Millions are doing just that, and not because of some sly software "update."

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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