Security Guards in Open and Closed Systems

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, <>.

Raymond, E 2001, ‘The cathedral and the bazaar’, Tuxedo, pp. 1-31. viewed 13 September 2014, <>.

Roth, D 2008, ‘Google’s open source Android OS will free the wireless web’, Wired, June 23, viewed 13 September 2014, <>.

Schmidt, D & Porter, A 2001, ‘Leveraging open-source communities to improve the quality performance of open-source software’, CiteSeer, viewed 13 September 2014, <>.

Zittrain, J 2010, ‘A fight over freedom at Apple’s core’, Financial Times, February 3, viewed 13 September 2014, <>.


9 thoughts on “Security Guards in Open and Closed Systems

  1. Hi Anna, nice post. I like how you began with a little history and anecdote from Apple; it provided a good foundation and context for the topic. You’ve clearly researched the operating systems as you explain them clearly, and you’ve referred to a variety of sources which is great. I also like how you have concluded with recent statistics and information on usage of the operating systems. The only thing I would suggest is to embed the youtube video into your post so readers don’t have to navigate away from your post to watch it 🙂

  2. Although you integrate your quotes well it would have been good to hear you voice your opinion more forcibly throughout. I particularly like how you used a current source to keep your post relevant. The ‘Security Guard’ analogy helped me better understand the differing natures of open source and closed source operating systems.

  3. I like this post, it is a perfectly example of how changing ideologies can be visibly seen in the business and operating system over a period of time. From an open one (like Google’s Android) to a sheltered one with high walls. I feel as though these change were mainly caused by the expansion of the business aspect rather then that of the software creators, what do you think?

  4. Your post does a good job of tying together the key points of difference between Apple and Google in terms of their respective operating systems. I think it would have been nice to get a sense of your own voice and opinion in the post, rather than a summary of the readings.
    Your use of video is good and if you follow this video guide you can have the video embedded in your post, which will stop readers from navigating away from your page to watch it. Hope it’s helpful.

  5. Hi! The beginning of your post provided a great foundation for the topic, and your use of current sources maintained the arguments relevancy. Although it would have been nice to read more of your own opinions and thoughts on the matter. Personalising your posts will do a lot for your readership as people like to relate to stories and gain a different take on how other people understood the topic. Your use of references is extensive, academic and very helpful and overall you created a very good post tying together the key differences of Apple vs. Google.

  6. I too found your post well researched and presented. It is obvious that you have your head around this week’s topic. You have done a good job at identifying the critical differences between the open and closed systems and I think you composed this post in a tone that was simple and effective. My only suggestions are that you could perhaps consider embedding your videos, so that the reader is more compelled to watch, and that you use hyperlinks within your text, so that the reader can more easily navigate away from your blog to the sources which you have sited. Otherwise a really well structured piece!

  7. Really great post Anna, I like the way you have started your blog off with the history of Apple then did eventually lead into a contemporary example of Androids. I think you have made good use of statistics to exemplify your point to readers, however I do agree that your blog post would benefit if it had the YouTube video embedded and possibly a few links. Overall I agree when you state that the closed system of the IOS offers some comfort to users who feel safer in this “walled garden”.

  8. Your post was quite interesting to read as it gave good detail on the phrase of the walled garden in response to the Android and Apple debate. Your wide range of references was great in showing that you have found evidence to support and further elaborate on the topic that you presented. It was interesting to read that the Android had controlled 85% of the market in 2014 as I wasn’t aware of this statistic. To think that such as small system has expanded overtime and now holds a large dimension of the market is very intriguing.

  9. Your post definitely showed thorough research of this week’s topic. You thoughtfully integrated the readings and quotes throughout the blog. However when reading it, it at moments i felt like i wanted to hear your personal tone through it with your own thoughts as well. Other than that, it definitely was easy to understand, sometimes which the readings for these topics can get to into the terms and for first time Dig student like me, can be overwhelming which is why i did enjoy yours!!

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