In the early days of Apple, the company favoured an open approach to business. The original Apple Macintosh computer was built in a way that made it open to any outside software. In 2007, however, when the iPhone was released, “the openness on which Apple had built its original empire had been completely reversed” (Zittrain 2010). Outsiders were invited to write software but what was allowed on the closed system was controlled and regulated. The iPhone thus “remains tightly tethered to its vendor” (Zittrain 2010). This closed system offers some comfort to users who feel safer in the “walled garden”.
In this video recorded before the release of the Apple App Store, Steve Jobs explains the benefits of a closed system which provides centralised security to prevent hacking. In this case, Apple is the ‘security guard’.
The Google Android Operating System, in contrast, relies on the users to take the role of ‘security guard’. Android relies on users to create the majority of the applications which fit out the mobile device (Roth 2008). This created concern for users as the open model could allow bugged applications on to their personal mobiles. The answer to this is that “Android’s secret weapon is really the network effect” (Roth 2008). As Raymond (2001) states, “given enough eyeballs, bugs are shallow”. The feedback loop, involving a process of evaluation, monitoring and improvement, is much faster for open systems than closed systems which means that bugs are ironed out quickly (Schmidt & Porter 2001). This is the benefit of the operating system being open to the users to act as ‘security guard’ and review content.
Android dominated when it burst on to a market populated by walled gardens. Networked organisations always out compete hierarchical, vertically integrated organisations because networks are more flexible and open to change (Castells 2004). Android controlled 85% of the market in the second quarter of 2014 (Mawston 2014).
Which security guards would you prefer?
Castells, M 2004, ‘Afterword: why networks matter’, in Network Logic: Who governs in an interconnected world?, Demos, London, pp. 221-224.
Mawston, A 2014, ‘Android captures record 85% share of global smartphone shipments in Q2 2014’, Strategy Analytics, 30 June, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://www.strategyanalytics.com/default.aspx?mod=reportabstractviewer&a0=9921>.
Raymond, E 2001, ‘The cathedral and the bazaar’, Tuxedo, pp. 1-31. viewed 13 September 2014, <http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/>.
Roth, D 2008, ‘Google’s open source Android OS will free the wireless web’, Wired, June 23, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://archive.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/16-07/ff_android?currentPage=all>.
Schmidt, D & Porter, A 2001, ‘Leveraging open-source communities to improve the quality performance of open-source software’, CiteSeer, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.20.9849>.
Zittrain, J 2010, ‘A fight over freedom at Apple’s core’, Financial Times, February 3, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fcabc720-10fb-11df-9a9e-00144feab49a.html#axzz3DB4xl4yD>.