iPad's lack of Flash/USB/Bluetooth is all about lock-in (updated)

iPad's lack of Flash/USB/Bluetooth is all about lock-in (updated)

Summary: The real reason Apple won't allow Flash on the iPhone/iPod/iPad isn't because it's buggy or because it's technically difficult - it's all about Apple Lock-In.

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158712-iphone-flash_originalI call B.S. on Apple.

The real reason Apple won't allow Flash on the iPhone/iPod/iPad isn't because it's buggy or because it's technically difficult. It's the same reason Apple doesn't put a standard USB port or expandable memory on it's devices - it's all about Apple Lock-In.

Flash is a huge threat to the App Store because with it you can play games, run apps and even build an "app store" that competes with Apple's.

The same goes for USB, Apple doesn't want you connecting a flash drive to your iPhone/iPod/iPad because they want you to get your content from iTunes, not to simply copy or play it from an external drive.

That's why Apple uses an expensive proprietary 30-pin "dock connector" instead of USB. They get to sell expensive cables (there's no OTA syncing of content, natch) and they get to license the connectors to legions of third parties clamoring to make peripherals for the device. More importantly though, Apple wants to sell millions of $69 keyboard docks and maintain control over what is passed across the dock connector port.

The same goes for expandable memory...

Hoping for a Bluetooth keyboard for your iPad? Don't hold your breath. The iPad will not likely work with a Bluetooth keyboard if it's anything like the iPhone and iPod before it. Of the 28 or so Bluetooth profiles in existence, Apple only supports the five least threatening profiles on the iPhone and iPod touch -- and the keyboard profile (HID and/or SPP) isn't one of them.

Update: Phil Schiller told PC World's Tim Bajarin that the iPad "works with a Bluetooth keyboard." This would be a complete departure from the iPhone and iPod touch which don't include the Bluetooth keyboard profile. But Great News if true. Will the BT keyboard support make it to the iPhone and iPod touch then to?

Blocking the HID and SPP Bluetooth profiles prevents transferring files to/from your iPhone/iPod/iPad and effectively eliminates tethering over Bluetooth too. [This remains to be seen. -Ed]

This is the same reason that Apple doesn't include an accessible file system on the iPhone/iPod/iPad. Apple doesn't want you to store any content on your device that didn't come from iTunes.

This is the same reason why Apple doesn't include an expandable memory slot on its devices. Transferring your own music, movies and videos directly to any Apple device is a no-no.

Apple wants you to purchase (or rent) all of your content via iTunes and anything that threatens that model is a threat to its business. I realize that Apple has an obligation to create profit for its stockholders but let's just drop the Flash is buggy charade and call a spade a spade. Apple will probably never implement Flash, USB, expandable memory or Bluetooth transfer profiles in the iPhone/iPod/iPad because its a threat to its profit and control.

If you want this type of technology don't complain, buy something else.

Photo: CrunchGear

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Wi-Fi

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197 comments
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  • Becoming what you hate

    I have been using Apple products almost since the beginning and one of the biggest complaints that us Mac users would was that PC makers (MS) wanted to rule the world. It seemed everything was for the PC. Nothing seemed to work with the Mac line. So Apple became more proprietary, more expensive and highly arrogant. I still use my Mac for some creative stuff but have found I can do more, have more options with less expensive products. In most cases companies like Adobe make that possible.
    Here is an example of my latest Apple experience: went to the local store to replace my ipod shuffle with another one. I was really happy to see they got even smaller because the one I am using is the small square on that I can connect to my wrap around headphones while jogging or working out. But when I saw that the charger was $28 and the headphones (which is proprietary and must be used with the ipod) were $18 which although came with the ipod was the least expensive part of the proposition. You need all three and if you lose the all important ear buds (with controls built in) you are SOL. I have no desire to be "locked in".
    patchrik
    • Good post - it's a precarious balance they create

      Apple adds value with sleek design and ease of use. But then they add frustration with device lock-in, DRM, and proprietary hardware links. The key is they try to balance it where the design and ease of use are worth far more than the hassle they create for owners with Apple lock-in. The problem is, they are slowly increasing the hassle they create and are approaching a tipping point. There will come a time when the hassle of Apple lock-in will outweigh the appeal of the design and UI. When that happens, Apple market share will drop to nothing like it did in the early 90's. They are playing a dangerous game that may hurt them in the long run.
      BillDem
      • Apple is becoming the new evil empire

        They gain market share and use it to increase their ability to lock their customers in and control the price of everything. Once you buy one Apple product they have you buying three for more than you wanted to pay. And that's just where it begins.

        Apple knows how to leech your wallet. It's their single greatest contribution to technology.
        T1Oracle
        • Becomming?

          Hardly! With the introduction of the first Mac, way back when, they started the foundations of Empire.

          Remember the Apple II series? Such a long, long life that series had, thanks in no small part to third party providers of add-in hardware and software.
          medezark@...
        • buying three for more?

          I have been buying Apple stuff for over 10 years and I have never bought
          anything that I didn't want because of something I bought.

          I'd like to hear an example of this.
          jdehnert
          • hmm

            i have seen several examples posted in this thread already

            have you read any of it??

            or is it a case of the fanboy blindness

            anyway you want an example heres one

            i paid 70 dollars on my 3rd generation ipod shuffle and i hate the headphones that come with the damned thing

            i mean it

            absolutely hate them

            i mean that is i hate all apples headphones

            its something about the shape of them that makes them constantly fall out of my ears

            and its not just me i have been asking arou8nd and apparently this is quite common

            now with any ANY other mp3 player it would be no problem

            i would just go out and buy some of those nice ergonomically shaped scullcandy earbuds right??

            well not with my shuffle

            oh no its all proprietary with the stupid annoying as fuck confusing as hell user friendly as a rusty hand grenade one button controller on the headphones

            anyway you wanted an example well there you go

            not that it will change your mind

            fanboy blindness i have found to be almost incurable
            shadowscrawl
        • What a crock!

          If you're trying to compare Apple to the true evil empire, Microsoft, you
          need to do some research.

          Apple isn't "locking" anyone in. Apple DOES use standard, non-
          proprietary formats, BTW.

          They used DRM for music, because the music "industry" was afraid of
          piracy. A few years down the road? They see they're making a profit and
          DRM is gradually removed. The same thing may happen with iBooks for
          the iPad.

          The 30-pin Dock Connector? What's the problem? It handles syncing,
          audio, VIDEO and power simultaneously. Sorry to pop the Apple-hate
          balloon, but USB CANNOT do all those things and certainly not at the
          same time.

          As for accessories, there are plenty of third-party things that do as much
          and often more than comparable Apple products, for less. There are
          MANY products which can recharge an iPod via USB and a Dock
          Connector cable (included with an iPod/iPhone/iPod touch, BTW), for
          instance.

          I DO agree with the iPod shuffle headphone thing. That was just plain
          dumb, BUT third-parties DID introduce iPod shuffle controllers that let
          you use any headphones you want, not just Apple's crappy-sounding
          earbuds.

          Again, do some research and buy something besides the Apple thing.

          The only lock-in there is is a lack of curiosity and imagination. I don't
          believe there are third-party solutions for that.
          jeffharris
          • One more thing...

            The Dock Connector has audio line-out, which allows you to send a
            better audio signal to a hi-fi, etc..

            Again, USB can't do that.

            The Dock Connector is FAR more robust and flexible than USB.
            jeffharris
    • Apple is fast approaching the M$ threshold

      when people would start boycotting it and dump it for more open alternatives.
      Linux Geek
      • FBI: Flashers Boycotting iPad

        Time to draw a very clear line.
        jfiser
      • So this is what happened to Linux

        people got sick of it and boycotted it. Interesting.
        CrashPad
        • This message

          makes no sense... I'm a staunch Windows person myself, but Linux has actually come a long way with Ubuntu - after bashing it as recently as two months ago, I'll admit it... and it has FLASH.
          mlbslugger
      • Not Only That

        but they have continuously done equivalent things that are constantly getting Microsoft sued - and somehow they've managed to get away with it for years.

        The author brings alot of valid points, actually they're fact. The only thing left is the fact that they somehow manage to lock into AT&T for everything they do, and that surprises me that they can shut out the other major wireless carriers and not get in trouble...
        mlbslugger
        • Only that

          Microsoft is sue-worthy because they have a monopoly on the personal computer OS. Monopoly status isn't in and of itself a negative thing--unless you are true believer of free market economic theory in which case monopolies have to be broken up for the theory to be valid--it's when you abuse your monopoly position that you get into trouble.

          Apple doesn't enjoy any equivalent monopoly position. Yes, they are dominant in the portable music player department. But you can put any music you like on your iPod, not just music you purchase from iTunes. And the iTunes client runs on Windows, so you don't need to own a Mac to manage your iPod.
          zdnet-gregc
    • um

      #1 you can charge via your computer, don't need a charger.

      #2 You can use the ipod headphones with anything, and, you can select
      many 3rd party headphones that will operate the controls.

      Feel free to lose them without blaming anyone but yourself. And then
      buy a 3rd party version to feel like you're not "locked in" OMG!
      U53r
      • Ummm (Part 2)

        1) So I have to power up my computer EVERY time that I want to charge my iPod? Even in-Car chargers aren't cheap.

        2) He was talking about the latest version of the shuffle, WHICH HAS PROPRIETARY HEADPHONES . . . You can't buy just anything and hook them up to it . . .

        If you're going to try to correct someone, at least get your facts straight, or properly read the article!!
        JLHenry
        • Very cheap these day....

          1) You can get in-car chargers for around $8 these day, maybe even cheaper online. I would consider that very cheap. Same goes for power plug, you don't have to buy from Apple. They're everywhere.
          dave95.
          • YEah, if you want the cheap ones that fall apart.

            If you want one that'll last a while, no. The same with the plug. Even at Walmart, the cheapest I could get a power plug for was about $30. WALMART!! The home of cheap.

            The one good thing is that more and more Car makers are including a USB port on their in dash stereo systems, allowing you to charge that way . . .And we CAN thank Apple for that . . .
            JLHenry
          • You don't need Apple power adapters

            If you poke around a bit, you'll find adapters that plug into wall outlets and sport a 12V auto charger receptacle. And I bought a perfectly fine auto charger cable for my iPhone for 3 bucks--been using it for a year.

            Yes there are lots of cheap knockoffs of the iPod/iPhone cable out there. But given the number that you can buy for the price of one apple cable, they're still a good deal.

            On the original subject ...

            No USB cable port? I wasn't planning on buying an iPad any time soon (and I own macbooks, iPods and an iPhone). Now I'm ertain I won't be buying one.

            The author is right--this is about lockin. I don't mind the "walled garden" ecosystem on the iPhone so much because it's not my primary device (I don't browse with my iPhone if I can possibly avoid it). But I expect to do much more on a device with a 9+ inch screen.

            But I'm not going to whine about it, I just won't buy an iPad. And frankly, I think the average user these days doesn't really care that much about lockin, as long as they can get what they want for a price they consider reasonable. I'm not expecting a big Apple backlash any time soon.
            zdnet-gregc
          • I thinkwe all got sidetracked on the Power cable thing . . .

            My point is that they aren't as cheap as the other poster was making them out to be, not whether or not you should stick to Apple. AS a matter of fact, I said nothing about Apple brand Accessories. As a matter of fact, other than the iPods themselves, I don't think I even own anything from Apple.

            And I agree with you guys. This IS lock-in, and it was bake din from the start.

            In another blog, someone mentioned the 'Walled Garden', and I asked him if the Garden was to keep others out or him in . . .

            Frankly, I'm waiting on the Asus unit. I have a MyPal 626, and it's a very well built and designed unit. I'd like to see what they can come up with in this area.
            JLHenry