Roughly Drafted, the passionate little partisan site that could, is back with a look at why Apple would choose to license ActiveSync from Microsoft while at the same time championing more open standards like IMAP and CalDAV with Leopard Server.

Having suffered under the anti-trust encrusted fist of Microsoft previously with both Excel (originally launched on Mac) and Internet Explorer (which at one time shipped with OS X) to name but two examples of Redmond's penchant for partnercide, Roughly Drafted explains how licensing a technology is different than licensing an an application. Namely, if you rely on a partner to deliver an application as your solution, your customers grow accustomed to and invested in that solution, and you become dependent on and, ultimately subject to, that partner (and the brutish manipulations thereof). However, if you license a technology and build your own application, your customers see only your front end and if ever a partner attempts to surreptitiously bury twelve inches of pointy steel between your shoulder blades, you can always license a competing technology -- or switch the back-end to your own, already existing, technology.

In fact, as Apple develops its own Mac OS X Server integration with the iPhone, and develops tight integration with its own .Mac services on a subscription basis, it can wean iPhone users from Exchange Server toward its own products using the powerful incentive of much lower infrastructure and per user costs. However, there won’t be any customers to entice if the iPhone doesn’t first ship support for Exchange.

Having lived and worked through the rise of Internet Explorer 6 and the amazing power, convenience, security nightmare, and proprietary market-grab it created, and the even more compelling, insidious sameness of Exchange Server, I both appreciate the concepts Microsoft brought to the business table and detest the method in which they brought them. Why?

Communication needs to be free (as in freedom from single-vendor lockdowns) and small and medium sized businesses need the ability to be able to move to and from whichever service provides the best capability at the best price to suit their needs. IMAP IDLE and CalDAV may not be the solution, but they're part of getting away from the problems of Exchange, and if the iPhone can sneak them into more IT shops, and into the mindsets of more be-fud'ed IT departments, then sneak away!

What do you think?