Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

Not a day goes by when someone doesn't email or post a TalkBack to complain about my personal use (and advocation of) of 'closed' hardware and software. iPhone. iPod. Windows Phone. iPad. Kindle. TomTom. Windows. Mac. iTunes. Audible.com. The list of closed systems that are supposedly 'verboten' to both use and mention seems endless.Wanna know something? I don't care.

Not a day goes by when someone doesn't email or post a TalkBack to complain about my personal use (and advocation of) of 'closed' hardware and software. iPhone. iPod. Windows Phone. iPad. Kindle. TomTom. Windows. Mac. iTunes. Audible.com. The list of closed systems that are supposedly 'verboten' to both use and mention seems endless.

'You're recommending closed hardware/software! Wah! Wah! Wahhhhh! You should be advocating open standards! Wah, Wah! Wah!!!!!'

Wanna know something? I don't care.

That's right. I don't care that I'm using a closed product. Why? Because I bought that thing (product or service, whatever) to do a job, and as long as it does its job, I don't care about whether it's 'open' or 'closed' or anything. Before I buy something I do my research and understand what it can and can't do, only then do I pay my money and then I live with my choice. In my mind nothing beats making an informed purchase. It's what I try to encourage every reader of this blog to do.

Don't get me wrong, there was a time in my life when doing things like hacking hardware, unlocking features, making it do things that it wasn't designed to do was a big part of my life. But it was a part of my life when I had a lot more time on my hands. I've whiled away countless hours making things do stuff that that it wasn't meant to do. It was fun, and highly educational. But what I've found is that as I've become older (wiser?) I'm increasingly happy to just leave my stuff alone. I don't overclock PCs that much (OK, sometimes ...), I don't jailbreak my iOS devices (too much hassle, not much in the way of benefits, iOS pretty much offers everything I need), I don't load custom ROMs onto Android devices (again, too much hassle) and I don't bust the DRM on every piece of media I buy. It's just not worth the hassle.

I've come to a point where I'm happy to color within the lines. But I equally accept that just because I feel this way, doesn't mean you have to agree with me. If you want something that can be hacked or modified or whatever, then I suggest you do your research. Let others who are braver (or more foolish ...) go first and find out whether it's hackable or not, and only spend the money once you're sure it'll do what you want. And then don't rely on future updates to support the hack.

Remember, there are no guarantees.

Oh, and here is a point that I think is worth making. At no point in my life have I felt 'owed' the ability to hack anything. At no point did I feel that a manufacturer 'owed' me the ability to hack, overclock, jailbreak or modify something I've bought. I don't understand people who whine about manufacturers making something hard to hack. Manufacturers are in the business of selling to the mass market (or they are if they're sensible and want to make money), and in most cases easy an unlock feature doesn't exist to protect the 99% of idiots out there who'd use that feature to do something stupid and then whine at the manufacturers for making it possible to do stupid stuff in the first place. On top of that, the majority of users (vast majority) don't care about upgrading or jailbreaking or unlocking or overclocking. Most don't use half the features present in their hardware because they never bother reading the manual in the first place. The people who want these 'abilities' are a fringe market and it makes no sense for manufacturers to spend money implementing something that only a few people will every use.

Note: Maybe there's a wider market out there for unlocked hardware, along the lines of AMD's 'Black Edition' CPUs.

Another point worth making, this time about Android. I'm sick of hearing from fanboys about how 'open' the Android platform is, and how much love they are feeling from Google or HTC or whatever. I've got news for you ... Google doesn't care about you or your 'openness.' In fact, the only time Google is 'open' with Android is when dealing with OEMs and the carriers. When it comes to the end user, it's clear that Google doesn't care.

So, next time I talk bout 'closed' hardware and software and you feel the need to tell me that I should be advocating open standards, just remember, I don't care.