The New Yorker on Apple: open v. closed

Tim Wu (a so-so writer on his best days) has written a ridiculous article for the New Yorker online. His basic premise is that Apple’s technology is “closed” (as compared to “open” technologies like, say, Linux). And he goes further to state that “closed” technologies eventually lose out to “open” technologies, unless the closed technologies are created by a genius like Steve Jobs.

The entire premise is bogus. I wonder where the famous New Yorker fact-checkers were.

In any event, for a point-by-point take-down of the premise of this article, you must read John Gruber’s piece on Daring Fireball.


Wu’s approach to this entire subject is backwards. Rather than evaluate the facts and draw a conclusion regarding the importance of openness to commercial success, he instead started with a belief in the axiom and attempted to massage the facts to fit the dogma. Thus, Wu argues, Apple’s success over the past 15 years is not incontrovertible proof that the “open beats closed” axiom is false, but rather was the result of Steve Jobs having possessed singular abilities that trumped the power of openness. He, and he alone, could walk on water.

Disclosure: I am long AAPL.