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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Open or close?

PCs were designed to run software written by authors other than the PC manufacturer or those with whom the PC manufacturer had special arrangements.
The resulting PC was one that its own users could program, and many did.
A comparable feature belonged to the Internet since its birth and was the reason of its huge success.
No central intelligence, but end to end communication and freedom to use the tool as pleased.
This meant an extraordinary birth of applications to cover all the possible needs.
And this is what is lacking in the case of cell phones, where the buyer, as in the case of the iPhone, doesn´t really get the ownership of the hardware, since its usage is limited to the software of the producer and to its updates.
It could happen that once the producer decides to charge for an update and the owner doesn´t want to pay he is in possession of an unusable tool.
Not only. Take in consideration the case in which China makes 3 cables for a mega brand, a store brand, and no-name factory, that sell for several tens of dollars, some $20, and $15, respectively - identical but for the label/packaging (and the manufacturer gets only a few dollars).
This is more common than one could believe.
Or the case of GM crops whereby the seeds are property of the company, and a farmer is not allowed to save seeds for future harvests.
An open system is dangerous because it can easily endanger copyrights but the damage to creativity and innovation can be limiting and detrimental to society.
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