Apple's base strategy deployed against FSF

Killing an app because it has a GPL license and your store policies conflict with the GPL is a base strategy. The Free Software Foundation made a political complaint. Apple acted in the way of a base politician -- if the other side hates it then it must be good.

Politicians usually have a choice between employing a centrist or a base strategy. (Illustration from ZDNet Australia.)

A centrist politician will reach out to the other side. They may hold dear the principles of their party, but they accept the need for compromise and make an effort to reach out.

Microsoft these days has a centrist strategy, reaching out to open source while holding fast to its proprietary principles.

A base politician plays only to one side, their own. They reject compromise, hold their own positions as absolutes, treat the other side as an enemy that must be crushed for good to have a chance in the world.

Apple these days has a base strategy.

Killing an app because it has a GPL license and your store policies conflict with the GPL is a base strategy.  The Free Software Foundation made a political complaint. Apple acted in the way of a base politician -- if the other side hates it then it must be good.

Here is the thing, though. A politician can, if they choose, alternately play to their base and act as a centrist. FDR may have welcomed their hate in the 1936 campaign, but he also put bankers like Jesse Jones in his Administration, and welcomed Republicans into the fight against Hitler.

Smart businesses can do the same thing. It's a choice they can make, recognizing that the mass market always has an element of politics in it and you want the broadest possible acceptance.

Unfortunately that's not how Steve Jobs rolls. It never has been. Probably because he has always been able to monetize the intense loyalty of his niche, he plays every controversy as a manichean "us vs. them" war to the death.

Speaking as a fan of open source, I think that's a shame. Not for open source, but for Jobs, for Apple, and for the market.

Open source is not a collection of evil-doers. We're not socialists, we're not terrorists. We are part of the market. We cooperate on base technology but may compete fiercely for customers. We do this because software is complex, and because we can hang together better than separately.

Sorry you still don't get that. But history shows you don't keep big majorities, in markets or in politics, by being an absolutist.

One word, Steve. Android.

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