iPad iSolationism

iPad iSolationism

Summary: Apple seems to be formulating its current business strategy based on the guiding philosophy of the most isolationist nation in the world.


Apple, a company that is the most envied of the consumer electronics industry for its brand loyalty, seems to be formulating its current business strategy based on the guiding philosophy of the most isolationist nation in the world.

Kim Il-Sung, the late leader of North Korea called it Juche (pronounced Ju-Che). In English, the term is loosely translated as "spirit of self-Reliance".

Since its beginnings in the 1950s, Juche Sasang (The Juche Idea) is the foundation that has provided the base ideology and tenets by which the rogue and isolationist nation has behaved, conducted itself on the international stage and controlled its own people in a never to be questioned iron grip dominated by a culture of leader worship that has continued to this very day.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Kim Il-Sung, "The Great Leader" and founder of Juche Sasang may have died in 1994, but he is still revered as a god and considered the de-facto "Eternal President" of that country, even though his son, "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il is now the current head of state.

There is virtually nowhere in the populated parts of North Korea where you can go and not be surrounded by Kimilsungism and Juche Sasang, which is widely depicted in propaganda and giant monuments erected to eternally memorialize their Great Leader and his guiding philosophy.

For those of you not familiar with Juche Sasang I'll summarize the core philosophy here.

  1. The people must have independence in thought and politics, economic self-sufficiency and self-reliance in defense.
  2. Policy must reflect the will and aspirations of the masses and employ them fully in revolution and construction.
  3. Methods of revolution and construction must be suitable to the situation of the country.
  4. The most important work of revolution and construction is molding people ideologically as communists and mobilizing them to constructive action.

The more I think about how Apple and Steve Jobs have been guiding the company in recent days, the more I  believe that many of the components of Juche Sasang are starting to influence their actions, whether it was intended or not. The result? iJuche.

Clearly, Apple is one of the most if not the most successful consumer electronics company in the world, and represents the epitome of the capitalist ideal. Let's not forget for one moment that Apple must live within the capitalist system, and as a corporation its sole purpose is to make money.

However, as a company or a pseudo-nation state within our capitalist system, what Apple is doing is downright isolationist. If Kim Il-Sung were alive today, I have no doubt he would be very proud of what Apple and Steve Jobs -- a known practitioner of Zen and one who has frequently embraced Eastern philosophies in his personal life -- have achieved according to Juche Sasang.

Lets get to the first and most important tenet -- Independence in thought and politics"Think Different" has always been part of the Apple philosophy, but it was eventually put down into words during a well-publicized advertising campaign in 1997.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Since 1984 this Thinking Different/Macintoshism has morphed itself into independence from the mores of the personal computing industry -- the IBM-Intel PC/Microsoft Windows ecosystem of business and productivity software --- and becoming the primary tool of creative content types which built its own ecosystem with little or no participation from the rest of the industry key players.

Case in point, the iPhone, which has its own self-enclosed isolationist App Store which has its own bizarre and often contradictory set of rules which governs acceptance of applications into that system.

[Update: Apple's App Store isolationism and exclusionary practices appears to have prompted two dozen large wireless carriers to unite and form the Wholesale Applications Community, their own Open Applications Platform at Mobile World Congress 2010]

Any perceived duplication of functionality is summarily rejected, and no other programmatic model besides iPhone OS's Objective C or iPhone Web Applications on that device and in that App Store is permitted, hence the lack of Adobe Flash/Adobe Air as well as Adobe Digital Editions on the iPhone and now the iPad. Java? Forget about it.

Adobe Systems, which was once the primary supplier of creative content "Killer Apps" for Macintosh, and historically the banner bearer and poster child of iJuche, is now being shunned away from Apple's independent iEcosystem for its "laziness". Conform to our rules, or be exiled and punished.

[Update: Adobe has now demonstrated Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Air on Google's Android OS, with apps forthcoming in late Q1/early Q2 2010.]

Adobe is not the only company Apple is isolating itself from. While some might say Apple had no choice in the matter once Google launched its own competing Android OS, it no longer permits "Native" Google applications on the iPhone and the iPad.

One could certainly argue that Google may be trying to standardize a HTML5 web-based application model for all mobile devices, but the bottom line is Android has much better Google services functionality than the iPhone and iPad does today because interaction with the Google application cloud is limited to what the Safari browser is capable of on those devices.

While the same HTML5 web apps can run on Android as they do on iPhone, Google's services on Android also have the benefit of having native applications for GMail, Google Maps/Buzz, Google Voice and Google Chat, whereas on iPhone they are strictly web apps. This is by Apple's design and desire.

There is also the issue that Microsoft is also glaringly absent from the iPhone and iPad equation. Microsoft, which has provided the key productivity suite for Macintosh since its very inception, has only released two iPhone applications, Tag and Seadragon.

Notably absent from the iPad during launch was a native Microsoft Office port for the new device. Instead, Apple has gone the "Self-Reliance" route of iJuche and released its own office suite in the form of Keynote (presentation), Pages (document processing) and Numbers (spreadsheet), a port of the iWork applications from Macintosh.

Based on the exclusionary self-reliance that we have seen with iPhone and the App Store, It is unclear whether Microsoft's future offerings or even the Open Source community's offerings such as an OpenOffice.org port -- arguably the best free productivity suite for Macintosh today -- will even be allowed into this new iPhone/iPad ecosystem.

Opera, arguably one of the best mobile web browsers on the market, was recently ported to iPhone and submitted to the App Store. Whether Apple will accept it or invoke its "Duplication of functionality" clause remains to be seen.

The second and third tenets of Juche Sasang are also apparent in Apple's core ethos. Apple has always been perceived as giving customers what they want, but in reality Apple only does what is good for Apple. It knows what its customers want, and what is good for Apple is good and is best for its users. Why else would it abandon the leading independent trade show dedicated to their products?

Finally, there is the fourth tenet -- molding people ideologically as communists and mobilizing them to constructive action. While I would never accuse anyone who subscribes to the Apple ideology as a communist, they certainly have been effectively mobilized and suit the whims of iJuche.

All challengers to the "system" are to be thwarted and discredited. There is no room for rational discourse when Apple's decisions or philosophy is challenged, as far as the iJuche faithful are concerned.

[Update: Apple has now banned developers who have discovered iPhone security exploits from its App Store.]

North Korea had its "Great Leader", and his philosophy didn't take them very far. Apple and Steve Jobs has Insane Greatness and now iJuche. Whether Apple's embrace of increased isolationism will pan out for the best for the company remains to be seen.

Can Apple's current philosophy be easily compartmentalized into "iJuche Sasang" or have I been drinking too much Soju? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Disclaimer: The postings and opinions on this blog are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Topics: Apple, Google, Hardware, iPhone, iPad, Mobility, Smartphones


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • This is a Classic, Jason

    Just made my favorites bookmarks list

    iSolationism - love it! And damn descriptive of
    the current state of affairs as well.

    It is indeed surprising how many iJuche
    faithfuls hit the blogs and defended Apple's
    stance on iPad. They all seem prepared to leave
    the free Internet behind and seclude themselves
    in the iWalled Garden.

    <i>"Those, who would give up essential liberty
    to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve
    neither liberty nor safety."</i>
    -- Benjamin Franklin
    • He nailed it

      This is exactly what Apple is.
    • Flash To The Rescue?

      In a matter of weeks, Flash 10.1 will be on every
      smart phone and tablet except Apple's. So we'll
      see if The People want what Flash brings to a
      browser - or not.

      I think Jobs has backed himself into a paranoid
    • And what if

      It had been a blog on MS?

      How much different would be?

      Excluding monopoly abuse, of course.
      • Much Different..

        Microsoft doesn't force everyone into using only "APPROVED" applications on Windows. I think the whole app store concept is kinda weird...

        Why would you want a device which offers only one place to buy applications? All other devices have multiple "app stores" available and you can install software from any of them. Choice is good.
    • Hyperbole aside, isn't it the same old debate?

      Open system vs. closed?

      Apple has always designed the whole widget. That is their business
      model and it is what made them so successful.

      Pick what you want and be happy.

      And if you can't be happy without dancing chickens in your
      advertisements then embrace the freedom to see all advertisements you
      want on any other device of your choice.
    • Following Benjamin Franklin's logic, the TSA should be done away with..

      ..so if you're quoting him, you must be a terrorist!
  • What a load of BS

    Seriously, even people who aren't Apple's biggest fan will find this piece of crap of self serving blog the biggest load of sudo-journalism excrement ZDNet has ever published.

    This article is not even good enough to meet the quality of the National Esquire.
    • Seriously...

      If you're gonna lambaste Jason, at least use the right words.

      First off - it's PSEUDO - not SUDO. PSEUDO = fake while SUDO = a *nix Super User DO for elevating privilege levels..

      Secondly, this is a blog - an OPINION piece. Not hard journalism. It's Jason's 2 cents worth. You don't have to agree with it.

      Third, what's this "National Esquire" publication? There is indeed a magazine called Esquire - It's a men's magazine that's been around since the 1930s. There's also the National ENQUIRER - the tabloid and it's been around since 1926. So which is it?
      • Oh man!

        First off, this is a tech forum. sudo is exactly the word I wanted to use. I feel so sorry that you are such an idiot that don't have the intelligence to understand when someone purposely uses tech words as part of a tech post.

        Secondly, nobody is claiming that this BS is a serious news article. There is nothing wrong with slamming stupid/uneducated opinions.

        Third, I neither buy or read junk magazines. Only people dumb enough to spend money on garbage/fake news mags know the actual name. I'm also enough of a man that I don't need to read a stupid magazine to tell me how to be a man or what to buy. No wonder I don't know the difference between trash and garbage.
        • You're only slamming yourself

          By claiming something is "stupid" without structuring a proper logical argument supported by facts.

          Jason's article is full of fact. You on the other hand are full of something far less fragrant...
          • Since when is an opinion a fact??

            Talk about stupid, and you came out to post.
          • Reading is fundamental

            "the lack of Adobe Flash/Adobe Air as well as Adobe Digital Editions on the iPhone"

            I suggest you try some of it. When you get to be an adult like the rest of us, then you can try *critical* reading. That's when things like facts become apparent.
          • Wow!!! Talk about trying to change the subject

            So the opinion is not stupid because the iPhone does not approve Adobe products.

            Keep up the good work. Dude.
          • This where critical reading comes in again

            When you become an adult we can discuss this.
    • You made my day!

      ZDNet should start advertising abt people like
      you, Fanboi's on a Rampage!

      You call this article BS and go on dissing
      anyone who replies to whatever you had to say.
      One fellow asked for a constructive argument as
      to why you're being all abusive and you diss
      him too.

      Anyways, it was fun to read your comments!

    • Opinion? Sure. Thought provoking? Definitely

      Come on, he brings up some values avenues of thought, which is what it's all about, isn't it?

      An opinion from a different perspective. One that fits pretty glove in hand from my point of view after reading it.

      Disprove him if you want[can], or don't.

      But [i]don't[/i] dismiss him because he dare spoke ill of Apple.
      John Zern
  • Chinese Communist Overlords and $.35/hr. slave labourers...

    ...toiling for Amerikan Capitalist. Who would have ever thought...
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
  • More Alarmist Claptrap from Jason

    I know you are trying to be controversial but really. You paint
    a successful capitalist American company with a socialist
    brush just to promote your anti-Apple agenda.

    I wouldn't let my cat poop-on this tripe.
  • RE: iPad iSolationism

    Stop writing this sort of drivel, the larger world already sees us U.S. as a self congratulatory smug opportunistic predictory country as it is, we don't need any more encouragement on your part.