Apple’s Jericho Moment

Apple Inc.

Did you play with an iPad this weekend? I didn’t – too busy enjoying the sunshine and warm weather to go stand in line to get it and hunker down to test it. Maybe later. But apparently a lot of people did – several hundred thousand if one is to believe all the reports out there.  The reviews are mostly positive although there’s one aspect to the device that I find a huge negative and I’m comfortable asking you guys about it even if neither of us has handled the thing ourselves.

My question is this:  imagine if your Internet Service Provider decided right now that you couldn’t watch YouTube or Hulu videos on your computer via their service.  You’d probably be angry, probably mad enough, if you spend time watching streaming videos from those services, to consider another ISP.  You don’t need your ISP to be a gatekeeper.

When the Food Network and WABC left Cablevision‘s service for a bit, a number of people changed gatekeeper TV services.  In fact, when one thinks back to the world of gated digital services – AOL, Prodigy, etc. – they had to rethink their business models because those walls didn’t include access to content on the Internet.  Wireless providers’ walls have fallen as well – almost anyone can offer content to your cell phone across most networks.  Consumers don’t like gatekeepers and historically the walls fall down.

This is what I find so perplexing about Apple.  They are maybe the biggest gatekeeper of them all.  Unlike your ISP who controls the pipe but not the device, or most hardware manufactures who don’t really care what you do with their device once you’ve purchased it, Apple controls everything.  They don’t want you replacing the battery, they won’t let you view anything you want, you can’t install any program, heck, you can’t even access a cellular network they don’t approve.  So YouTube is out and so is Skype and hundreds of other sites and add-ons.

I have an iPod Touch and I like it but I don’t like the uneasy feeling of being held under Apple’s thumb.  I know you can jailbreak the devices but if something goes wrong you’re screwed.

How do you feel?  Think Apple’s walls are coming down?  Does their “Steve’s way or the highway” attitude disturb you?

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