Can Apple even dictate what tools you use?

If Jobs insists on controlling the tools used to code for his hardware, rejecting apps translated with Appcelerator Titanium, he's shooting himself in a far more vital place than a foot.

Apple is proprietary. Apple doesn't like open source.

That's fine by me. Apple is not a monopoly. As far as I'm concerned they're shooting themselves in the foot. Android proves that every day.

But there is proprietary and there is proprietary. There is the proprietary that says, I can decide how my gear displays stuff, so Flash won't. There is the proprietary that says I will control what my device will do, and it won't do porn.

And there's the proprietary that says you can only build stuff to run on my gear with my tools.

That is what programmers who use Appcelerator's Titanium are wondering right now. And if Jobs insists on controlling the tools used to code for his hardware, I think he's shooting himself in a far more vital place.

At the end of the day, whether you're writing in Objective C or Javascript, all your code gets turned into 1s and 0s, and all 1s and 0s are created equal. An iPad can't tell that a programmer originally used Javascript, so long as the code is translated into something the machine understands, Objective C, which Titanium does.

Since its introduction in 2008 Titanium has become an important competitor to Adobe AIR. If Jobs hates Adobe, the enemy of his enemy should be a friend.

So far Appcelerator, which was formed in Atlanta but then moved to Mountain View, is keeping pretty quiet about the issue. Its latest news release notes only that it supports a lot of developers, and is getting more all the time.

But there is a message there for Jobs. Developers can learn a lot of different languages, but most don't want to. It's much easier for them to become comfortable with a few tools or programming environments. This makes them more productive.

Appcelerator notes that this makes it popular. Programmers can use whatever system they want to program for whatever target they want. The code is open source, but that's not the point my friend. The point is programmer comfort.

If forced to choose between comfort and market share, moreover, there's always Android. Despite its growth and hype Apple iPhones and iPads still represent a small portion of Internet traffic, and the Android platform is now growing faster.

If Jobs has better tools for creating apps, let him compete for programmers' loyalty. Dictating to them in this way risks the consumer market share already gained, because consumers don't care about programming tools, only about their own experience.

And if they can get just as good an experience with an Android, plus more apps because programmers prefer other tools to those of Apple, well, the Macintosh was better than PCs in the 1980s, too.

There is a limit to how far a vendor can push a market. Steve Jobs has pushed too hard before. Appcelerator could be the turning point ending the second age of Apple.

Or not.