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Has Apple Become “The Man?”

Apple has built its reputation on innovation, on breaking the mold, on thinking outside the box. But can they keep their outsider ethos when they are the standard instead of the new technology on the block?

If recent and continuing developments with the Apple App Store for iPhone and the iPod TYouch are any indication, then Apple is taking on the protectionist policies more commonly associated with those big, clunky, running-scared companies that Apple has traditionally loved to hate (Think Microsoft  and IBM).

The recent desertion of Joe Hewitt from the Facebook App for iPhone is a great example of how those who value open, creative and unrestricted access are being increasingly put off by Apple’s corporate policies.

Hewitt is not just “one of the developers” on the Facebook for iPhone app, he is the application. And he bolted from the project – not because he doesn’t like what he was doing, but entirely because of Apple’s review policies. (See http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/11/11/joe-hewitt-developer-of-facebooks-massively-popular-iphone-app-quits-the-project/ for more).

The repressive and protectionist policies of Apple (and let’s don’t forget – AT&T behind the scenes) is disturbing not only because it is so contrary to the supposed ethos of Apple and all that it stands for, but also because Apple is the standard for smart phones and application development for smartphones.

If Apple is able to continue their policies that value profit over innovation, then other platforms will feel free to adopt similar models – the standard has been set. It only takes a look at how quickly airlines jumped on the bandwagon to charge customers to check a bag to see that oppressive reviews of new applications could be in the works for every smartphone platform.

Don’t think it can’t happen – three years ago, did it even cross you mind that you might one day have to pay an extra $25 just to take a suitcase along when you flew to grandma’s for a week?

And the other frightening thought in all of this – where does Apple’s innovation go from here? Can we expect more trendsetting and ground breaking products from a company that has joined the ranks of the “profit at all costs” behemoths? Not likely.

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