Disneyland or Freedom's Road?

If you're here looking for the devil, he's out there on Freedom's Road.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

While initial reports on the Google "superphone" are all about speeds and feeds, the outcome of the competition will be all about the apps.

Just as you buy a PC to run applications, so you buy a smartphone to run apps. Otherwise you'd take the free phone your carrier is offering.

Apple remains clear on its attitude about apps. It will control the horizontal, and the vertical. If someone powerful is offended, the app is gone.

This is no longer a question of whether the carrier is getting a cut of online revenue. The Super Agent game pulled yesterday was a client app, played entirely in the phone.

What happens if that game shows up on the Google Nexus One? Google will say it has no control over its app developers, that its software is open source, and that the lawyer letter needs to go to the developer, not the Googleplex.

That's a big difference.

On the surface you would think, this is a no-brainer. Google is offering the real Internet, warts and all, while Apple is offering a Disney version of it, with Big Brother always watching.

But while the Internet market developed in this atmosphere of complete freedom, the smartphone market did not. Buyers there are accustomed to being controlled. They like living in China.

Real freedom is scary. Real freedom includes porn, and criticism of authority, even satire. Real freedom may also include viruses and worms and other malware.

Or as John Mellencamp sang on "Freedom's Road" (above, available from Amazon), "If you're here looking for the devil, he's out there on Freedom's Road."

As the Android market grows it's going to attract the bad and the good of Internet freedom. The market will make its choice starting from the premise that there is a "safe" place it can go, the iPhone.

It's going to be interesting.

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