Reader Post: The Disturbing Course of Mobile Technology

Posted on 17 May 2010 by

One of the best things about the iPad is that it is seeding great discussions, thought and experimentation. Dr. Juan Luis Chulilla Cano, Director [personal blog] , Spain, sent us this article which I’m sure is going to start another good discussion. Thanks Juan.


I am not surprised at all by of the extraordinary reception given to the iPad. The exaggerated and raptured descriptions are explainable keeping in mind the huge expectations that media groups have about the iPad: if the iPad is the wonder-device which can make pay-per-content solutions acceptable for the first time in the Internet Age, then Media is forced to bomb the population with out of control hype. What I cannot totally understand is how and why the disappointment of late January, when we met the real characteristics of the device and all its shortcomings, has been magically transformed into renewed infatuation and fascination for a lot of tech bloggers, as if this disappointment has gone through a process of double-thinking.

Of course, a good number of bloggers have maintained their critical approach about iPad and what it means for the public. Indeed, the first wave of hype and uber-criticism has calmed down, and it has no sense to repeat the main criticism. Instead of it, I would rather prefer to focus on two linked topics: format variety and PC software model.

I am still amazed about how many people are, well, raptured by the SAME device. Technologically speaking, it is as if one day I get up, get out of my house and I find that most of the people I meet on the street are wearing the Mao suit. Actually, distinction is one of the most important engines of consumption, whether we talk about clothes or cars and people need to buy and use different formats of computers and Internet browsing devices, MID and the like, because they have different requirements and usage environments.

iPad nowadays is very efficient in helping their users to feel themselves different, comparing with the sheer majority of have-nots. BUT all of them are happy with ALL its characteristics and size? I just cannot accept that on the long term.

The second topic (which disturbs me a lot) is the PC software model. The astronomical PC revolution wouldn’t have been possible if all the main vendors would not accept an OS which has no limitations on what can be installed on it besides the development of the application. For sure, Windows is far from perfect (mainly because of its vulnerabilities against malware), but its unlimited software paradigm has been essential for the PC revolution. Linux shares this model, but Apple not totally: although MacOS X has no limits on what you can install on it, you cannot legally install that OS on a non-produced Apple PC. That was not bad as apple sales have been anecdotal in the last fifteen years

I do believe that all this freedom of operation has been essential for the PC revolution. A PC is much more that a browsing and text processing device, and the lack of software limitations have made possible the adaptation of the PC to a huge variety of environments and user requirements.

There, my main concern about the iPad is its tyrannical and obsessive control about what the customer may or may not do with the product they purchased, its theoretical property. As it is well known, the only legal software source for the iPad is the AppleStore, and Apple has full powers to decide what is permissible or not. Besides, recently Apple has reduced drastically the programming languages and environments that can be used for iPad development.

Some people say that this is a clear benefit for the users, because users need just “devices that work” carefree. This is connected with the prior topic (different formats for different requirements): maybe “mums” can be satisfied with such a lack of options (Cory Doctorow has a smart insight about it in his post Why I won’t buy an iPad), but a lot of users cannot be satisfied with such a proposal. The comparison with Meego is very illustrative: you can install an application in a Meego-powered device (ANY compatible device) from their future “market” (repository is an old-fashioned term these days), or from any other source. It is not going to be any restriction of language or programming environment within the capabilities of a Meego-powered device.

The amazing success of iPhone has affected Apple in a wrong and harmful way. I also find insulting that it is acceptable to treat people as minors with their rights stripped away. PCs have had a fundamental role in the process of Internet adoption for the population, with all its revolutionary consequences. But don’t forget that PC were successful before Internet adoption, and its success is totally linked with their software model.

Nowadays PCs are not the only way of accessing Internet anymore, and they aren’t going to be the main way to do that for much longer. Mobile devices are the protagonist of the next evolutionary wave of Internet, since they link Online and Offline reality in a double way; allowing Internet access anywhere, anytime, and being the basis for generating augmented reality experiences. However, if PC software model is abandoned, if we happily give up the control of our devices to the vendors, it will have negative consequences to the evolution of Internet


Thanks again Juan. Over to you, readers.

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32 Comments For This Post

  1. UMPCPortal says:

    New article: Reader Post: The Disturbing Course of Mobile Technology

  2. Gretchen Glasscock says:

    Reader Post: The Disturbing Course of Mobile Technology: One of the best things about the iPad is that it is seedi…

  3. Juan Luis Chulilla says:

    Mola, chippy paine me ha publicado un post acerca del iPad

  4. techise says:

    Reader Post: The Disturbing Course of Mobile Technology …

  5. Guy Adams says:

    RT @umpcportal: New article: Reader Post: The Disturbing Course of Mobile Technology

  6. umpcaddict says:

    chippy, are you going to read and explain this to niklas?

  7. aftermath says:

    Kudos to you Juan. It’s nice to see that not everybody has lost their minds when it comes to consumer technology. I think we need more voices like this speaking out and speaking intelligently. You seem to be the lone consumer advocate out there. Unfortunately, this is the Internet, and most people will use the comment section of your article to make comments on your topics rather than comments on your article. I hope that those people resist the urge to append their thoughts here, and instead, do something better and create a well written article that expresses those ideas and then publish it somewhere as you did. This is a conversation that deserves to move forward.

  8. omel says:

    Juan said “The amazing success of iPhone has affected Apple in a wrong and harmful way”. I believe it has!
    I understand why the iPhone and the iPad generate so much interest; aesthetics. Guaranteed, applications/services such as iTunes & the App Store are very successful, useful and actually “better than the rest” Apple is a industrial design firm most of the time. The iPhone and iPad have sold millions and gotten all the hype because of their looks – simple and clean design. They’re both attractive. In other words most people buy the iPad because it’s what you’re expected to do even if the network is a persistent pain in the neck or non-existent, not because they realized how it would help them. I don’t know if it was a mistake or simply forgetfulness, but lack of a front-facing camera in the iPad just blows my mind. That’s just one of the reasons I won’t buy one. Please don’t hate. I’m just being real. Just be objective!

    That being said, Apple’s success has emboldened them to put the needs (not wants) of their customers at the bottom of their list of priorities; an increase in their market share on top. What do I mean? Flash! It’s been almost 3 years since the release of the original iPhone and still no flash compatibility? Is flash was inherently incompatible with the iPhone OS? I understand Apple wants to support their new HTML5 but can we have flash till HTML5 becomes an internet standard in 2013? You’ll need an App for youtube. What!? Seriously, even Blackberrys support flash. The iPhone and iPad are like a $100,000 car with no AC or heater.

    I don’t think Juan is the only guy who wants what they want.

  9. James Pope says:

    I don’t agree at all. I personally like the Apple model better. The windows product has ALWAYS been littered with problems because nobody gave it the thought Steve Jobs has. I love going one place to find tons of progrmas that won’t crash my machine. The windows people were too lazy to go that far. Just put out an operating system, and let people sink or swim. Nice planning and care by the windows folks.

    Keep it up Apple. Me and millions are behind you on this one. You are the way of the future, and windows is yesterday’s news :-)

  10. focus says:

    I don`t think so!On this planet are bilions of people,most of them using windows,so milions means nothing.

  11. James Pope says:

    Think what you want. If millions of windows users jumped off a bridge… would you do it? Oh wait… you have. You use the windows products. So sad for you, and the millions of windows users that don’t know a better option when they see it :-)

  12. focus says:

    I said:bilions not milions,you are living in a small world.And the second option is caled LINUX.

  13. James Pope says:

    It’s a small world afterall!!! Billions, shmillions :-) Whatever dude, and you really should call Linux an option for anything. I will stick with my way cool product, tons of applications, and a company that has their head on straight.

    Time to get on the plane, have tons of battery life, and enjoy the trip with way cool multimedia. Something (by the way) microsuck has never quite figured out how to provide :-). LOL!!!

  14. James says:

    You’re confusing your personal preference with what is being discussed. It doesn’t matter whether you like the Apple model or not. The iPad model differs from the traditional Apple model and is locking out choices like never before. It’s the loss of choice that is being discussed, not quality control!

    No matter how good the product, when a company starts monopolizing how you use it then it will always take away choices and eventually that leaves the consumers with less than we could have gotten otherwise. And that is ultimately bad for both Apple and the consumers who buy their products.

    Like the iPods, great when they first came out but have you noticed any great improvements over the last few years? Monopolizing kills innovation!

    The fact of the matter is not all Apple critics are Apple haters, many just think the company is making mistakes and wants them to start making better choices because they honestly want the best for both the company and all fellow consumers of their products.

    I believe Dr. Juan Luis Chulilla Cano is one such individual who simply sees a trend that he believe will only backfire on both Apple and the consumers. And I for one share his concern.

  15. Risen says:

    That’s meta, a comment offering their thoughts then pre-judging anyone who does the exact same thing.

    But seriously, who cares? People will either buy iPads or they won’t. Google and Facebook users will exchange their personal data for convenience, some won’t. And the ones who don’t will likely be aghast and righteous. And bloggers will continue to confuse excitement with “exaggerated and raptured descriptions.” When we don’t feel something ourselves it seems the first reaction is to construct arguments to defend the rightness of our positions. That is about as useful as a Democrat explaining policy to a Republican or vice versa. Disturbed about the course of mobile computing? Cool, you’re disturbed. Buy or promote a tablet device that meets your needs rather than explaining or inferring why less capable or enlightened users than you might choose otherwise. That’s the insult.

  16. umpcaddict says:

    THANK YOU Risen.


    no one cares, no one should, at least not to this extent. reviews are one thing and two pennies are another but don’t try to turn those two cents into 4,902,347 cents. and opinions, ESPECIALLY about consumer electronics, should NEVER be taken THIS seriously man, come on.

    turning your opinions into a thesis

    and trying to confuse…poor transitions.

    giving it an epic title

    man, you’s funny ;)

    chicken of beef!?!?


    sorry, i’m being a jerk but come on

    if you must be so adamant, outspoken, and passionate, choose something else to write about. there are plenty of things in this world to get so worked up over. yeah, i know this is the place for tech, but you’re not going to get a degree here.

    and AFTERMATH..tsk tsk..trying to the looking the sounding why you the smarter do?

    “Unfortunately, this is the Internet, and most people will use the comment section of your article to make comments on your topics rather than comments on your article.”

    man, my head hurts

    taking shots, so vaguely…in the dark. you missed.


  17. James says:

    If no one cared then no one would be posting responses here. It’s like saying who cares about those who click links from Spam adds? Because that’s the reason they send Spam to everyone! Because there will always be someone who does click the link and line the pockets of the spammers.

    The state of the matter is the iPad has, for better or worse, sparked a debate not only with consumers but also other companies that can indeed have far reaching effects because if we change the market model from what has worked traditionally then we risk the possibility of adopting a model system that may ultimately not work and leave us with products that will be far less than they could have been otherwise.

  18. aftermath says:

    Risen, you’ve included your wonderment “who cares?” in a comment in response to an essay. I’m sure you read the essay and can infer that the author of the article is an example of somebody who cares. If he didn’t care, there would be no article for you to comment on. Perhaps I can then fairly assume that your question was a point of rhetoric, a tool intended to judge as foolish or belittle those who do care, people like the author. Fair enough. However, a lot of people care about these issues because they’ve been burned by them either professionally or personally. I’ve been burned badly by Apple’s shady business practices and heavy-handed treatment of its most loyal enthusiasts. I will never trust Apple with my professional livelihood or my personal data ever again. They’ve fooled me once, and now the rest is up to me. They’ve proven themselves to be untrustworthy. I’m always encouraging people to learn from my mistake and avoid their own personal episode. It’s coming. This is not the 1980s. Apple is not the “rebel”. This is not the 1990s. Apple is not the “creative computer”. Apple represents a consumption platform that is monolithic, standards antagonistic, and offensive to rights. These descriptions are actually criticisms that people have made merely about certain pieces of SOFTWARE released by Microsoft, whereas they apply to the entirety of the business practices of Apple. Scary stuff, and some people joyfully feed the monster their money. A high-profile Apple switcher (away from, not towards) once said, “There are two types of people in the world. Those who already realize that Apple is trying to screw them, and those who will eventually learn that Apple is trying to screw them.” Surely, your well reasoned and insightful perspective on these very important issues, issues that shape the trajectory and therefore the long-term state of the consumer technology sector, has been informed with a detailed following and history of important people from the community of Apple faithful like Mark Pilgrim. People like Mark didn’t get into Apple products with an iPad, iPhone, iPod, MacBook, or iBook. People like Mark were into computers before there was an Apple II, but people like Mark were down with Apple from the very beginning. People like Mark were constantly getting dinged by Apple’s shady business practices but kept looking beyond it because “the good outweighed the bad”. Fortunately, Apple faithful all have one thing in common which makes this blindness easy: cognitive dissonance. Unfortunately, people like Mark started getting fed up when they realize that the bad that comes with Apple isn’t the result of a plan gone wrong but, rather, it’s part of the plan. People like Mark tried with all their hearts to look past the abuse and stay in love with Apple, especially after all they’d been through together. People like Mark eventually realized that Apple isn’t just a cancer against its own userbase; it’s a cancer against the whole industy. Read his recent post “Tinkerer’s Sunset” from earlier this year. Then go back and read his post “When the bough breaks” from 2006. Then read everything in between. Then go find more. There are thousands of them. Don’t be the frog in the pot of water who won’t realize he’ll boil to death just because the heat increases slowly. God is in the details, and truth dies on the margin. In the end, it’s OK if YOU don’t care about these issues, but please don’t assume that it’s not there just because you can’t see it or it can’t matter to others just because it doesn’t matter to you. More than anything, junk up your own life with whatever technology choices you want because I’m not trying to save you from yourself, but please don’t screw things up for the rest of us.

    Finally, there’s an important subtext to this article about the difference between goodness and fitness. In mathematical problem solving, before we go looking for an optimal solution, we first identify the set of feasible solutions. Similarly, pros and cons are just tools for assessing the value of a candidate. However, there’s a second list that the sophisticate consumer of technology caries that contains the non-negotiables: the must-haves and the deal-breakers. This is the list that establishes candidacy in the first place, and when you get a good one developed you might just realize that Apple offerings are not meaningfully feasible for the assessment of their value because they’re not practicably putative in the eyes of the constraints. For some people, a free computer just isn’t worth it if your head explodes off of your shoulders. For others, a “magic”, responsive tablet just isn’t worth it if you give up your rights and shift the industry away from open standards and best practices.

  19. umpcaddict says:

    what???? it’s not just me right?

    my head hurts

    all that because i said “who cares?” oh, the pity of toneless words. “who cares” meant let the one opening up his/her wallet/checkbook decide on what they want to buy.

    calm down buddy. step away from your thesaurus.

    why do people write personal opinions like they’re factual and then blow it up with words…you know you spent 3 hours on this ;) thesaurus..keyboard…thesaurus…keyboard…thesaurus…keyboard..i know exactly how people write when they’re thesaurus crazy.

    if you hate apple so much, don’t speak on em. you’re just ranting and raving and just using certain words for the sake of sounding smart but apple thanks you for the publicity. save it for your thesis or your dissertation. maybe then someone can red pen your stuff.

    i dont want to do this, especially since i am the one who said who cares but i don’t want anyone to take anything i’ve wrote out of context and some comments are getting out of hand so i should add my two pennies.

    just so everyone knows, i’m a microsoft fanboy i learned computers on win 3.1 on my 286 and i learned how to program on vb3.0. so microsoft fo’ life but i’ll be honest.

    this is what i think about the microsoft and apple giants.

    thanks to all of their products and their very expensive R&D (and PSYCHOLOGICAL marketing strategies), whether we absolutely LOVE apple or HATE apple, we can’t hide from apple. i hate how the term “jail-break” is associated positively to apple. i hate how iphone os4 is now finally getting copy&paste and will now have the ability to multi-task and how THEY BUILD SO MUCH HYPE around these things and then call them revolutionary or game-changers. i build databases and if i told any of my prospective clients that they can’t print or copy&paste on any of my dbs until they give me more money or until 2 or 3 years later after updates, i would never get a client. apple is thinking 5 years down the road, 10 years down the road. they’re thinking customer retention and never feeling what they felt in the 80s and 90s when Job’s wasn’t at apple. big companies can get away with these methods and practices, not us little guys. they’re just stretching out their technologies correlating to the times. i hate it, but that’s the way it works. microsoft does it, how come no one writes about microsoft and how f*cked up they are? microsoft said VISTA was IT, far superior to xp. then they said vista wasn’t that great (youtube bill gates on vista). then, about 2 years ago, microsoft started pushing tv spots on users loving vista, not knowing it’s vista. they started putting up billboards (not about vista or xp..just about “windows” by microsoft) all around los angeles. they purposely made vista half-assed, took everyone’s money and then eventually promised a greater os with 7. in vista, certain (most) individual services require other services to be running, the DPI scaling is all wrong, the taskbar’s quicklaunch spacing is all wrong, this list goes on and on but NO ONE writes about these things. instead, most people made subtle hints at it, how it’s slow, and just reverted back to xp. and what REALLY changed in 7? they throttled down and bashed their own product so they can make more money and set a new default os to replace xp but that’s PERFECT marketing strategy for large enterprise, if they can get away with it. who can ditch microsoft? not sure what the exact percentage is nowadays, but i remember at one point, some crazy number like 95% of all computers are pcs running windows. but i love windows 7..and vista..and xp ;)

    when leopard was released, you could not escape the number of copies they sold that first wknd, then the first week, and then the first month. every site was reporting their sales reports and it was on tv for days, maybe even weeks. win7 broke every previous sales records for any operating system and they got a few mentions here and there. and because microsoft is running all of the windows 7 television and print ads, not too many people give them attentnion. and steve jobs has repeatedly accused microsoft for “stealing” from them…the mouse, perfectly spaced fonts, visual features, etc., but microsoft/bill gates never responds and addresses any of those accusations. in this world of suing and being sued, don’t you think microsoft would be pissed off for the slander and fire back at apple? never. have to look at the big picture, and especially everything tech + apple for the last two/three months but let’s focus on apple after the ipad was released. the gizmodo iphone prototype, apple ipad sales figures and then the hp tablet pull, apple vs adobe. news of wwdc being sold out in 8 days and then htc countersues apple the following week. now the second iphone prototype in vietnam. every tech blog is reviewing, criticising, or praising the ipad/iphone and apple, (yes, i too feel like it’s some tech rapture) but THIS IS PERFECT STRATEGY. especially americans love the underdog. they’re getting a lot of attention thanks to their Apple Guy VS PC Guy television ads. microsoft is the old, boring, business machines. apple is the new, hip kid. and the american average iq is about 100 (burn out). there is a market for every type of user, experienced or inexperienced, apple’s trying to fill it. they have to be EVERYWHERE, for ANY reason so that they’ll sell their products NOW because it’s their turn.

    after microsoft’s monopoly troubles, they learned that they’re undoubtably #1, but they need to LET someone be #2..and #3, etc. nowadays, it seems like the modern western idealogy is UNITY and collaboration. i’m sure everyone knows, that the ipad os is crap COMPARED to the hp tablet runnin win7 but it also matters what you’re using it for. and if big companies or manufacturers came into the slate tablet game, spent millions, maybe billions of dollars for ad campaigns and eventually get labled “ipad killers”, it won’t bankrupt apple but they’ll take a big loss. apple has to have an app store, what’s wrong with that? choice? then dont buy an ipad. microsoft is probably thinking they should’ve done the same with the app store but they probably dont want to go through reviewing all of the apps because there are billions of windows apps, it’s just not possible. there’s such a big pie when it comes to computers, microsoft HAS to let others take a slice so that they don’t have to worry all day about being a monopoly and how much the government is gonna tax them this time around.

    disagree with methods but microsoft needed apple and vice-versa. both kept each other on their toes. microsoft coded for apple and office is used by many macheads. usb, firewire, so many other things came from apple. pinch-zoom type gestures were implemented by pc makers because of apple. zune was released after the ipod. and although i dont own an iphone, an ipad, or an ipod, FileMaker RULES (SERIOUSLY, it does…compare FileMaker to Access and you’ll know what I’m talking about but then again, it’s your opinion), so does Reason (and some other things)…and when it was made possible to hackintosh, you know I did it. all i’m saying is that although i prefer microsoft and windows products over apple products, not everyone is the same with the same needs & expectations. you cant expect everyone to use every machine the way you use it.

    maybe it’s because of the war and maybe it’s because of the world/u.s economy, but big businesses, the media, the government…they’re all trying to keep us busy, keep our minds off of what’s really going on while they’re making all the money and securing their futures, whether it’s personal or business. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE. these products are just products and tools. it felt like juan was writing about social inequalities and injustices or racial discrimination or the ill-effects of religious warfare but he was writing about ipads!! i was seriously baffled that someone took it that seriously. it’s all the same, it just depends on how you look at it. chicken or beef?

    i still meant what i said when i said

    “if you must be so adamant, outspoken, and passionate, choose something else to write about. there are plenty of things in this world to get so worked up over. yeah, i know this is the place for tech, but you’re not going to get a degree here.”

    that was a lot..thats why free os and open source is what some people live by. i bet there’s a bunch of tux heads laughing at all of us over all of this.

    “Microsoft had (has) every right to enforce whatever rules for their platform they want. If people don’t like it, they can write for another platform, which some did. Or they can buy another platform, which some did.

    As for us, we’re just doing what we can to try and make (and preserve) the user experience we envision. You can disagree with us, but our motives are pure.

    By the way, what have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others work and belittle their motivations?” -Steve Jobs

  20. umpcaddict says:

    ohh..i meant the adoption of usb..and pci bus but u guys already knew that

  21. turn_self_off says:

    it seems the good old “duck and cover” is in order.

  22. Juan Luis Chulilla says:

    Reader Post: The Disturbing Course of Mobile Technology: One of the best things about the iPad is that it is seedi…

  23. jjsjjsva says:

    I have yet to see an I-Pad being used in publicm, or in business with WiFi hot spots. Maybe the Apple zombies woke up and found out their new big I-Touch is not the revolutionary device Apple dupped them imto believing. I’m guessing they got bored with the big I=Touch and put it away in that drawer next to their Walkman and VHS Recorder. There’s always your Star Wars DVD collection to watch to keep you happy.

  24. James Pope says:

    Guess again clueless boy. Using it now, and love it. You should get your facts straight, or get out more before you speak. Just makes you look stupid :-)

  25. Shane says:

    There are two unrelated issues with the iPad:

    1) It’s an awesome device made possible by awesome software. A tablet finally done right.

    2) The control that Apple exerts over what can and cannot be put on the device? That sucks big time.

  26. James Pope says:

    Yes and No.

  27. Shane says:

    Regarding point 2): I’d rather not have to pay $99/year for the privilege of being able to use software that I write on devices that I own. I can do that on my Mac. Why not on my iPhone/iPad?

  28. animatio says:

    first there were blackberry’s, pogo’s and so on … nowadays there are the iphones, ipads and that sort of flock …..who is happy with a vendor controlled world might follow the way of these devices and will drop free decision and money there. who wants (within some limits) the freedom of personal choice and action sticks to other computing devices (in this context it might be worth to mention , that even the originally also “protectecd / dependent” wince habitat has become a “free” platform in this sense – at least until version 6.x. there is always a reason why there are “locked” and “unlocked, jailbraked and whatever” devices. the summary of this is an easy one: locked = all profits go to the vendor – unlocked = freedom of choice, action and diversity is with the user/consumer. it is an old rule of life that diversity is needed for evolution not monoculture. that’s a lecture a few thousand years old. on the other hand it is also well known that simple minds tend to seemingly simple solutions even if they mean slavery and dependency.

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