My Open Letter to Apple

I am outraged!! I came upon something that absolutely frightens me. Censorship, based on one groups beliefs of what is best for the rest of us. This comes in the form of a statement allegedly made by Apple’s founder Steve Jobs. According to several sites, he stated “Folks who want porn can buy an android phone”. (read here)

Before I comment on this, there are a few things I want to say. First, I have used Mac computers as my main machines for the last few years and find them generally good machines. I also own an iPhone but recently switched to the Android powered Nexus One. This was not to view porn but because I truly believe the Android devices are going to be the best. I am not one to nit pick and bitch that a new SDK agreement apparently bans flash development tools for the iPhone. I won’t dweel on the fact someone at Apple is also apparently using the companies strength to bully developers into following Apple’s business plan blindly. I am focused on the future of our industry, society in general and what I personally believe is best.

So what is happening here????

In my opinion, a line has been crossed. On top of the porn statement above, a ban of a cartoon application based on what a small group of people believe is the moral direction YOU should follow. As reported by

“Apple believes that allowing an app which contains images that mock celebrities and politicians to go on sale on the App Store would be in violation of the terms and conditions of the platform.

Fiore had proposed launching his NewToons app, but was rejected in December for the perceived vulgarity of his work.”

PEOPLE!!! This is textbook tyranny! A free and open society tolerates dissent. Canada even allowed Ann Coulter to speak, even though most Canadians I know think she is a moron. Is Apple going to tell you what you are and are not allowed to look at on your iPhone? Would you allow them to censor what music you are allowed to listen to? Would you allow the library to start burning books based on what might be too dangerous for you to read? Maybe not now but when tyrants have eliminated all that stands in their way, what is to stop them. It is time to take a stand. I think it is a civilians duty to fight this. (it is my blog so personal opinions are allowed and you are free to post a comment to disagree with me as long as it is not spam to sell your products).

My own company, Adobe, does not tell me what to think and what to write or not write on this blog. They understand that my thoughts are my own and on blog posts like this I am clearly speaking for myself, not the company. This is why I am proud to work for Adobe.

I am drawing my line in the sand today. Why? Because, if you allow tyranny to breath and prosper, there will be no one left to hear you when you scream for help. I don’t know what their agenda is but these latest moves are completely unacceptable to me. Here is my public letter to Apple:

Dear Apple:

It has been fun, but you are no longer “cool”. You have made some great gadgets and computers in the past, but others are open and you are not. While you have brought society some great things like the iPod and iPhone, this was in the past and your current antic of censorship is unacceptable to me. You see, in Canada, we have rights. We have the right to a free and open society. I will not be the subject myself to censorship. The result of your actions are that I will not develop for your mobile platform, nor support it. I will also be returning to a combination of Ubuntu Linux and Windows 7 for my main work machine. You see, I have the faith that people can decide for themselves what is appropriate for them and what is not. I do not believe that any one group has the right to make decisions on morality for the rest of us. I do not wish to live in such a society.

As far as applications go, you should allow developers to develop using whatever the tools they use are and judge all application submissions fairly based on the quality and performance of the applications. These should be done using clearly published rules and be consistently enforced. Would this not achieve the end result of a rich, robust app store filled with quality appliations? At any rate, I do not see how it could be worse than having a plethora of fart noise generator applications, of which only 3 really work. Do you really think the quality of applications is based only on what development tools are used? I disagree.

Respect developers! I think it is not too late to change your mantra. I write this letter in an honest appeal that you hear how your actions are being taken. Developers are usually at the top of the technology adoption curve and several developers are beginning to have issues with you. What you really need to hear is that these same developers are the reason for your success. It is us who are asked “what computer should we buy” by our family and friends. When you piss off developers, there is a cascade effect that will eventually affect sales.

Respect individual rights! I have never looked at porn on my iPhone, but I don’t want someone else deciding what is and what is not appropriate for me. I do not want Apple employees deciding whether or not a public figure can be questioned. Accordingly, my iPhone now rests harmlessly in it’s box while my Google Nexus One is being used. I get tons of people asking me about this phone (read here) and I will keep promoting it while making sure my circle of friends understands the censorship and control issues.

It has been nice, but now it is time for me to move on. Ubuntu 10.4 is out and looks pretty damn nice. Microsoft seems to have learned from Vista and Windows 7 appeals. The Google Android phone is already better than the iPhone and I am excited to started developing Android apps. I can use Java, Flash, AJAX and any toolset I want.

I am committed to standards such as Flash, HTML5 and XML. Not gonna look back. PDF, Java, Silverlight, Android, Linux, Flash are all here to stay.

Please consider the reason I am writing this letter. I do believe you are capable of making some great stuff and doing some great things. I want to encourage you to re-consider your recent actions and hear what we, the developers and computer users of the world, are saying.


Duane Nickull

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