An open letter to Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs
June 15, 2003
As a Mac convert from the PC realm, I am a little nervous about what I perceive is the increasingly proprietary nature of the Mac platform. OS X represented a wonderful sort of glasnost for the Mac community, but now it feels as though that spirit of openness is fading.
I am referring to two things, really: One, the development of integrated Apple software such as Safari, Mail and iCal to edge out third-party products that are largely superior in design and function. And two, the strong-arm tactics Apple uses in persuading users to subscribe to its .Mac service.
I still prefer Internet Explorer to Safari and Microsoft Entourage to Apple?s Mail, Address Book and iCal, and I plan to continue using the Microsoft products until Apple gives me something better. I was disappointed to hear that Microsoft is pulling the plug on Internet Explorer for the Mac because it is unwilling to compete with Safari. I can only assume Entourage will be the next to go. It took forever to get a really solid, industry-standard web browser for the Mac platform, and it pains me to see it discontinued. I hope that before Microsoft exits the Mac browser market entirely, Apple will have given us something at least as good as Explorer, but from what I?ve seen so far, there?s still a long way to go. I?m talking about adding the little features that make Explorer such a joy to use, such as the ability to move around a web page by holding down the Command key and dragging the page (Quark Xpress users will undoubtedly understand this technique).
The subscription-based .Mac service is another disappointment. I deplore the strategy of coercing people into subscribing by depriving them of capabilities they ought to be able to use with any web host or network storage system. True, this tactic may work for Microsoft, with its virtual monopoly, but Mac users won?t stand for it. Consider this: I been a Yahoo! user longer than I?ve been a Mac user, and I intend to continue using the Yahoo! platform for mail, photo sharing and other things. I already pay for web hosting, so I?m not going to pay Apple for the same thing. I would like to be able to use Backup to save essential files on my existing UNIX-based web host, but I can?t, because you want me to pay for .Mac. So I bought Retrospect Express instead. That?s money you could have had from me.
You can?t expect today?s sophisticated PC users to switch to Macintosh if you continue to insist they give up everything they?ve been using in favor of some proprietary (and often inferior) all-Apple solution. Brand loyalty only goes so far.