The iPhone Is “A Sterile Disney-fied Walled Garden Surrounded By Sharp-toothed Lawyers”


TimAllow me to introduce you to Tim Bray, the brand new Developer Advocate for Google Android that left Sun Microsystems for the new role. He didn’t waste any time in throwing a few barrels of raw Kuwaiti oil onto the fire by attacking Apple’s iPhone with a loose-cannon lashing that even Joe Biden would envy:

The iPhone platform is “a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers,” Bray wrote. “The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger. I hate it.”

The iPhone’s hardware and software may be great, but “freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient,” he explained.

Holy battlestar mobilactica – if the exchanges continue at this pace the battle is going to get much more public and and much more ugly very, very quickly. Them is fightin’ words, and it isn’t hard to tell what side Bray stands on, not by his criticism of Apple or praise of Android:

“The reason I’m here is mostly Android,” he added, calling the platform “about as unambiguously a good thing as the tangled wrinkly human texture of the Net can sustain just now.”

Of course Bray is offering a 100% objective, unbias opinion in his views of the two platforms so you have no choice to agree with him. Really. We insist.

Just kidding, but I have to say I appreciate the intensity and passion Bray has for Android. I think Google and Apple may want to tone down the rhetoric a bit – they’re two of the biggest tech players in the world and if they can somehow learn to play nice, we’ll all benefit. Keep in mind, it was only a few months ago that they WERE playing nice and Eric Schmidt was sitting on the Apple Board.

How quickly times change.

[Via TechNewsWorld]

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. OFF
    You might want to update the “Phones” section of the site, apparently it wasn’t updated since at least November…

  2. Frankly, I’m glad that Tim Bray finally said what many of us who follow the tech industry, who are tech enthusiasts/hobbyist, or gadget freaks are just saying. Many of us aren’t comfortable with the “Sterile Empire Island” of iPhone & the Darth Vader like ruthlessness of control. If I own a device, I personally want to decide what goes on it. I don’t need some CEO, Corporation, or guru making decisions for me or placing artificial restrictions on my device. That’s precisely why I voted with my wallet & now I’m a proud own of a Samsung Moment with Google.

    At least Microsoft allows third parties to play in their world with very little restrictions. I think they learned from the Internet Explorer debacle that interoperability is the best way to go. Anyone can develop for Windows Phone 7 as long as they use Siverlight or XNA. Anyone can develop for Google Android. I think as soon as cool restricted apps become popular on Android & Windows Phone 7, iPhone popularity will start to wain. Especially if advertisers continue the “iDon’t” strategy of advertising.

  3. Bring it Tim!
    Oooooo … Stevie Yobs not gonna like that … not gonna like at all, maybe he gonna sue you for that, Mr. Bray, LOL.

  4. @Jose nicely said.

  5. I pat Mr. Bray on the back for saying that. Somebody in the up their world needed to make that clear. Down here in Joe Schmo land us geeks are looking for something we can feel that we are getting our moneys worth.

    The problem is that Apple has nerfed a lot of their products and services. They restrict a lot of fresh ideas and applications because THEY feel it is unsafe, while they do that, those developers switch over to the Jailbroken apps where the same apps do very well, that is a missed market that Apple CHOOSES to drop because they lack the idea of Freedom.

    Let us choose what we want to do with out phones. If someone wants to make a modded version of Android with a cool new interface and features…LET THEM, and give me one!! It would only further show the power of the Android OS. Apple is seriously imperialistic, only THEY can make Apple products because apparently they know whats best for their consumers, that being an overpriced and over-hyped hunk of junk.

    “Free As In Freedom”

  6. I do believe the iphone has great hardware. It was great because of innovation. The sense of exclusivity it has now is ridiculous. The ipad is the least innovative tablet they could have made. Apple is on the way down. Developers need to lead that charge.

  7. It seems that Apple has a lot of people against them and they should rethink what they are doing.

  8. I love Android, too, but this is a bit extreme. A consumer’s decision to use Apple’s “walled garden” or Android’s “post everything and I’ll decide what’s best” IS freedom, as long as the users know what they’re getting into. I like Android, but I can understand why a person would want to use an app store that has a filter, too. To claim one is strictly better than the other is ridiculous. The ability to choose your preference is “freedom” just as much as the ability to choose your apps is.

    Everyone needs to tone down their rhetoric, as this article points out. There will never be an “iPhone killer”, nor does there have to be. Android will be successful or it won’t (I think it will). There is room in the market for Windows and Mac, Coke and Pepsi, Ford and Toyota. There is also room for Android and iPhone. I’m glad that, as a consumer, the various products (in the smartphone OS market) actually have substantive differences and unique advantages, rather than having to choose the pile of crap with the prettiest skin (like we have to do in politics).

  9. There was that TV Spot in 1984, looks like some people misinterpreted its meaning.

    Today Apple feels very 1984 and thinking different does not seems to be all so popular anymore.

    Talking about 1984, there are other companies to worry about too though …

  10. On the other hand, let’s not go overboard with the Microsoft love here. Their monopolistic anti-competitive behaviour in the PC world is still there, their desire to kill off or hobble Linux as a fully-free, unencumbered OS is still there, even if they try to make nice with words like “interoperability”. Do you actually think they will support Android against Apple? Think again. They are happy with this lawsuit against HTC, because they can hope it slows down Android adoption right when WinPhone7 is about to be released. The patents won’t be a problem to them, because they can cross-licence IP with Apple.

  11. Bravo, Mr. Bray ! I completely appreciate someone PASSIONATELY extolling the virtues of Android. For a lot of us, the Android technology is about more than just dollars, it’s a play on ideology. I feel advocated !

  12. I hope Mr. Bray checked the patent office to make sure Apple didn’t patent this technology:

    “a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers,””

  13. Mike wrote on March 16, 2010

    1) Most consumers DON’T know the different between a locked-down iphone, and an open Android.

    2)What you’re saying about the market being big enough for both, and your analogy of Coke and Pepsi, I AGREE! Just TELL APPLE THAT, and stop with the lawsuits.

  14. Rob, I agree Apple and Google should play nice. Yes, we’re all android fans here, but we shouldn’t forget how strongly Apple shaped the mobile landscape in the past few years. They’re a big player, and they’re here to stay, and frankly I have to admit some people just fit better into the iPhone paradigm, so yeah, to each his own.

    Still, I wouldn’t call the situation from a few months ago “playing nice”. It was Google blindly submitting to Apple’s will. We need an environment where the two are working together, maybe even take steps to make it easier for developpers to bring compatibility between both OSes. But I’m just being overly hopeful here I know; the knives are drawn now.

  15. “I think Google and Apple may want to tone down the rhetoric a bit – they’re two of the biggest tech players in the world and if they can somehow learn to play nice, we’ll all benefit.”

    Google is playing nice. Apple is the bully.

  16. I don’t think Google and Apple need to play nice. I feel exactly the same way about Apple’s business methods. I don’t really care how much Apple has innovated, it’s all negated by the fact that they patent every obvious two-bit idea with the full collusion of the USPTO, and then sue anyone who gets too successful. Software should not be patentable, and hardware should not be completely and utterly controlled by it’s manufacturer, it should be controlled by it’s owner. Apple is not advancing computing, it’s strangling innovation and it’s pure BS. If you want competition, it should be from players championing more open standards, not hiding behind proprietary closed systems.

  17. Most consumers DON’T know the different between a locked-down iphone, and an open Android.


    But they will know the difference between the phone that has the “edgy” content they might want to consume (political satire, South Park, etc.) and the phone that is bland and boring, which maps pretty directly to open versus locked-down (respectively).

    Apple lost the app wars on the PC front years before its marketshare tumbled because of its tight control over the app ecosystem on the Mac. You simply couldn’t get the variety and quality of apps on the Mac that you could on the PC. And even the Mac’s “killer apps” like Quark and inDesign migrated to superior versions on Windows.

    These days, using a Mac is a statement rather than a practical choice — even the “Mac first killer apps” are developed for Windows first and then ported. We’ll know iPhone is on the brink of decline when the hottest apps for that platform are ports from Android rather than developed for Apple first.

    And that will happen faster than people realize.

  18. Well the problem is that Android is not clean as well … still no clear solid standard grounds (except Linux kernel) for the development = endander future application compatibility as the OS “moves” & limit the Java code reuse.

    Bad license chosed that enable manufacturer to retain code and prevent community to follow google OS upgrade pace (noting that manufacture never cared about upgrade but for short term … all they want you is buy another candy with the new OS version). They should have gone thru GPL with “Classpath exception”, IMHO ! Doing so, any changes done to the Java part of the code (look and feel) can be kept at home, but changes to the core done to make the phone work could not be retained as it is done by now. This would have been quite protective for the manufacturer asset but without compromising with the platform evolution. The current choice is a danger for Android future :(

  19. “they’re two of the biggest tech players in the world and if they can somehow learn to play nice, we’ll all benefit.”

    The problem is that in a capitalistic system, the whole point is an adversarial competition. Maybe they should “play nice” by abstaining from patent trolling each other (*cough* Apple *cough*), but as a whole competition is *good* for the consumer, leading to rapid innovation and lower prices. Playing too nice would lead to identically high prices and very similar and slow-improving features.

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