Apple's strategy

My computer is a mac. I've always used macs, and I've always loved them. We Apple users tend to do so. We normally get so entranced in our love with these things that we love everything Apple does.

And as we know and use the better alternative, we hate Microsoft. We hate their miserable products, and especially their brutish, bullying, monopolistic business strategy. I never hear Apple fans admit that Apple's strategy is very similar. They attempt to lock every competition out by forcing their loyal customers to use only their software and other products.

Apple wants the computer to be the digital hub in your digital lifestyle. That means that you're supposed to use iPhoto for your digital images. iPhoto is a great application, but it has a way of hiding your files, so if you want to use them with other programs, you really have to search. You may upload images to a photo printer or a Web site with iPhoto, but only the ones Apple have decided on (Kodak in U.S.A. and Apple's .Mac homepages). Admittedly, you may export files and Web pages for upload to other servers, but it's far from seamless.

In iMovie and iDVD, you can insert images from your iPhoto library only. You can add music to your movie, but only music that's in your iTunes library.

While I like Apple's Address book, I happen to think that Apple's Mail application is to weak for my needs, and that iCal is a very bad calendar program. Unfortunately, Address book won't talk to Eudora, and iSync won't sync with the Palm Desktop calendar, only with iCal. It can export the dates to my Palm and my iPod, but then I have to give up Palm Desktop.

I spent the better part of last Thursday trying to create a homepage with the editor at Apple's .Mac. Not because it was fun -- it wasn't! -- but as part of a research project. Not only were the templates so rigid it made it extremely difficult to make anything, but you can only add images from your iDisk. You are not allowed to upload files in any other way. And you can only publish the finished pages to the .Mac server.

I do appreciate that these connections between the "i-Apps" makes it simple to do many things. What I don't like is that it's the only way. Why can't these ties be an option, and inserting files through Apple's celebrated dialog boxes or drag-and-drop be another option? If Apple is embracing standards and open source so much, why can't their applications speak with other applications?

Microsoft was taken to court for embedding the browser in the OS. We all know how effective that was, but why isn't anyone commenting on the fact that (for example) QuickTime more and more is becoming an integrated part of the Apple OS?

To my eye, Apple's strategies to keep a hold of the users aren't much more innocent than Microsoft's. There. I wrote it. Tonight I expect they will come and take my computer away.

Update: Adrian emailed me, pointing out the obvious. You can import images in iMovie without using iPhoto. It's on the File menu, under import (he wrote, blushing).

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