Steve Jobs, the mean dictator -- Paul Graham

Steve Jobs, the mean dictator -- Paul Graham

Summary: Paul Graham, the founder of the Y Combinator venture capital group, has given a 10-minute interview to Bloomberg about backing startups. Towards the end, he says he's worried about another "era of monoculture" where software developers concentrate on a single platform.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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Paul Graham, the founder of the Y Combinator venture capital group, has given a 10-minute interview to Bloomberg about backing startups. Towards the end, he says he's worried about another "era of monoculture" where software developers concentrate on a single platform. Last time it was Windows, and this time it might be Apple's iOS -- though he does point out that it's not a monopoly because, in the phone market, Android is "neck and neck". Still, there are similarities between Microsoft then and Apple now. And as he says:

"It is a richly ironic situation. I mean I wonder what Steve Jobs is thinking. Doesn't he see, like, he's the guy in that old Apple commercial [1984] who's the mean dictator, saying: 'We're going to lock everything down. Now things will be orderly.' You know, it's like a description of the App Store."

He suggests Jobs "should think about developers. Don't treat them like slaves."

One of the problems with the App Store is that Apple can block or remove your app or change the terms of trade for whatever arbitrary reason, putting your survival in jeopardy. The recent decision to add a 30% Apple tax to subscription sales is one case in point. As the Washington Post observed: "Essentially, Apple proposes to annex a developer's subscription business -- then charge that firm 30% for the privilege."

Nothing has actually changed for decades, in spite of RSS developer Dave Winer writing an utterly brilliant essay about it (Platform is Chinese household) in 1994. As Winer says: "Developer relations is a mating game. The platform vendors are the guys. Developers are the girls. Send flowers. You always score big. Like wives and girlfriends, developers just want to be cared for. It's the little things that count." His complaint was that Apple doesn't love developers the way Microsoft does. Apple treats developers like sluts.

@jackschofield

* Paul Graham included the thought of a monoculture in his December 2010 essay, Tablets, where he wrote: "I worry about the power Apple could have with this force behind them. I don't want to see another era of client monoculture like the Microsoft one in the 80s and 90s."

You can watch the video on YouTube: Y Combinator's Graham Doesn't See 'Bubble' in Technology. (Embedding is disabled.) The comments on monopolies start at about 8'50". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMBTRf1kgm8

Topic: Tech Industry

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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