Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Open-ness: The Business Practice of...Tomorrow

I could explain why I haven't posted in a while, but I'm not going to. Anyways...

I still recieve the dead-tree version of Wired magazine, even though with how long it takes to get to me all the content is online, anda few of their stories really got me thinking. In one camp, there are the articles about how open-ness an freedom is the "new wave" and how businesses are doing well by "opening up." See this article for what I mean. However, this month's cover story (not to mention a slew of similar articles throughout the internet and traditional media) is on Apple's successes in the last couple of years, despite the fact that they're bucking the trend by being as "closed", or as I prefer "evil" as a tech company can be. Sure they're realeasing an iPhone SDK, but with enough stipulations that you basically have to be having your hand held by Apple the whole time if you ever want to do anything.

While I was thinking about that (my rants on Apple are usually more bile-filled, and much longer, consider yourself lucky,) I began thinkning about another tech company that the mention of doesn't fill me with seas of bloodcurdling rage: Nintendo. Not only are they completely locked down in terms of hardware and software, but their adherents and fanatics closely mirror each other when it comes to the amount of devotion said groups express. Everyone gives Sony a bad rap for being so proprietary (which is justly deserved) , but when you think about it, Nintendo is even worse. Their newest-gen console doesn't even play DVDs, for christ's sake. Imagine how (much more) awesome the DS would be if it took SD cards, played Mp3s/Oggs, and had an active and egaging (and supported) dev community. Yeah, there are "hacker" groups that do some cool stuff with it, but when you come down to brass tacks, if you want to make anything for the Wii, or the DS, or the PS3, or anything uncrippled for the 360, be ready to pay through the nose.

My point is thus: Open technologies are awesome, I love them, I can't imagine making anything nowadays without assuming it would be open somehow. HOWEVER, you can still make big bucks by staying closed, and until someone (I'm looking at you Google/Android,) can prove that being "closed" is going to lose to being "open," there isn't going to be a major shakeup anytime soon.