Richard Stallman got into some hot water this week when he said of Mr. Jobs -- quoting what one Chicago mayor had to say on the death of the absolutely corrupt former Mayor Daley: "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone." He goes onto describe Mr. Jobs as "the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom."
Harsh? Not really. It's one of the reasons I don't limit myself to Apple products. (Full disclosure, the only Apple product I've ever own(ed) is a second hand Mac Mini that went missing while in the possession of a friend.) But I also don't limit myself to Microsoft or Google products either.
Mr. Jobs was leading computing ever down a path that Mr. Stallman hated with a passion, and I'm not too fond of either. He is not the only one on this path, but he is it's most prominent supporter and Apples success on this path is why other companies are lining up behind it. It is a wonderful way to make money. Mr. Stallman is a support of what he calls Free Software, but as much as he insists on that term it doesn't let the casual observer know what he wants, and why he wants it. Mr. Stallman doesn't mean "free" in the monetary sense -- he has in the past said that he has no problems charging for software -- he means free in the ideological sense, in the sense that this is America, the (for the time being) home of the free.
The reason I don't use Apple products -- them being largely prohibitively expensive for someone on my budget would be enough, but this is bigger -- is that I can't really do what I want with them, at least not without running afoul of Apple.
Take, for instance, the iPhone -- a great piece of machinery that really brought smart phones into their own. But it's a closed system. Apple sold you the phone, and Apple has to sell you anything you want to put on the phone. If they don't like an App, like one by a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist that "ridiculed public figures" or an App for WikiLeaks access, they don't let you get to it. The phone is in Stallman's proverbial jail. Even if one Jailbreaks it, Apple has done everything it can to put itself in a position to make those phones impossible to use, even trying to get US courts to declare Jailbreaking a violation of copyright. They lost, but their opinion hasn't changed.
But iPhone is just a phone, its very nature limits what one could do with it anyway. But the iPad, which might as well be a netbook in it's usefulness, works the same way. So, ultimately, does the MacBook Air, which is ostensibly a full-fledged top of the line laptop, just with no easy way of putting files or software on it that aren't downloaded through Apples App Store.
Which is another pioneering thing Steve Job's Apple has done. It got us to stop using the term Software Library and start using App Store. Free and open are out, restriction and payment are the norm.
But use whatever phone and computer you like. If you're comfortable supporting a system that limits your freedom, more power to you in your seeking of less power. You can do whatever you want, this is America, and Apple hasn't stopped that yet.
And I'm free to not be that sad to see Steve Jobs go.