Woz'ifications: iPhone Too Closed For Comfort?

Woz co-founded Apple and pretty much kick-started the personal computer revolution; fair enough. Since then, however, he's made his bones as a fairly big practical joker. Which Woz was it, then, who told the Telegraph:

"Consumers aren't getting all they want when companies are very proprietary and lock their products down," he says when comparing the iPhone's closed operating system to the new Google phone's open source system which allows anyone to modify and adapt the way the phone works. "I would like to write some more powerful apps than what you're allowed," he laments.

Of course, Woz could probably stroll into Apple, flash his stock certificates, and write any App he wants. So what's he really saying? That average consumers would be better off with a more open platform from Apple?

That probably better defines the harder core developers, geeks, technophiles, and blogerati than the average consumer -- just the type currently salivating over the Google Android.

Apple has made their iPod -- and now iPhone -- fortune, however, by giving average consumers what they really want: unmatched ease of use wrapped in a drop-dead gorgeous package.

My 2 and a half year old godson could use an iPhone with startling ease. Google Android? He could probably figure out how to throw it (likely at my head in frustration).

Woz is a genius, no doubt about it. He dented the world. But the classic mistake of any genius is seeing multiple problems when all every day people see is a single solution. The iPhone isn't a kit computer like the Apple II. It's the ultimate sealed-up Mac. Two different markets, with the second one being better for average consumers (despite geek howls to the contrary).

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 8 comments. Add yours.

Olek says:

No, Apple tells customer what they have to want, not what they really want. A huge difference.

pete s says:

Apple provides better hardware and software than any other manufacturer on the planet. Having control over both allows for better intergration and stability. Though I admit Apple has had it's issues with the 3G, it's still the beat mobile device available. If you want open development, I hear google has some new software out.

sturmgeist42 says:

@pete s: NO! Apple does NOT provide the best hardware. Apple is just able to sell it as the best. There are many many MP3-Players which are better than the IPod(classic).
@Topic: Nope, what Woz tries to say is that apple should be more open for a community who creats programms. People should be able to control deeper functions (maybe everything Apple themselve can) to be able to code more powerfull programms. He is in no way talking about Usability! Nobody says it is not possible to create a good looking AND wide spread functioned programm...
so far...

Eric says:

Okay, I'm the guy Apple is after, okay. I love technology, but I have no practical knowledge about how or why it works. I don't want, need, or know how to write computer programs. 'Unmatched ease of use wrapped in a drop-dead gorgeous package' describes it perfectly, that's what I want. And I've got news for all the tech heads out there whining about a closed system, I'm not alone. For every guy who wants to write his own apps, there must be tens of thousands of us who just want to turn it on and have it work. Apple gives us what WE want. I'm not saying other companies aren't starting to catch on, but they still trail Apple by some distance. The truth is that almost everybody in the world who uses a cell phone doesn't care about a so called closed system. That's just the way it is.

James says:

Wow, you actually sound offended and annoyed that Woz doubted Apple...

wonder Webb says:

I agree completely ! I'm not intersted in open source as setting the alarm can prove hard enough sometimes LOL. But here's the big one ! Apple need to take they're head outta sand sometime and listen to it's users let open source direct which way apple go with polished versions of what becomes avaliable on googles system. Turn by turn directions , cut paste these are things that they could do tommorow and fail to . Don't get me wrong the 2.1update was brilliant and gave me the phone I expected
Now is the time to seriously tweak so come on apple don't get left behind !

Sam says:

Woz is a techie guy but he dose not understand business world on how to make money. He gave us personal computer but who sold it ? Steve Job. Business and technology are two different ball games but steve know the middle ground. That is why he successful. Mobile phone user does not need thousands of programs but all they need few good working apps written by few hundred good programmers.

Steve says:

This is laughable. All the Windows people leave to come over to Apple because it's better, and now they want Apple to be just like the big mess that they just abandoned.
Sorry, but Apple will continue setting itself apart from the rest as it has for the past 25 years. If you don't like it, go back to WeirdowsMobile.