Friday, April 16, 2010

A Perfect Storm of Choke Points

I saw an article today about Apple last week asking a Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist to resubmit an application for an iPhone app that it rejected last Fall, right after he publicly mentioned his rejection.


“[H]is app was rejected by Apple in December because it included cartoons that ridiculed public figures. Cartoons, it turns out, can violate Apple’s license agreement with developers, which states that apps may be rejected if the content ‘may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.’”

Said the cartoonist “he had not heard of ‘the whole concept of getting rejected for ridiculing public figures. That’s what I do. That’s my life!’ he said. ‘That’s a tough one to get around if you’re a political cartoonist.’”

There’s been a lot on the Internet about Apple’s closed system for the iPhone, and now, the iPad. If Apple doesn’t like you (Adobe Flash) you are out of luck.

On another related techie subject, a court just ruled that the FCC didn’t have the authority to regulate Internet providers like Comcast for technical legal reasons. The case was about “net neutrality,” the idea that Comcast or another provider can’t slow down or cut off a customer except for capacity based reasons.

From Wikipedia:

“[A]dvocates of net neutrality and associated rules have raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, protocols), particularly those of competitors.”

Then there’s the matter of competition for that last mile. Who is your ISP? Comcast, AT&T, Charter? If you’re out in the sticks, you may have a mom and pop provider; but, for the most part, Internet and cable are going the way of most other industries, fewer but bigger companies.

Now, let’s look at all these trends and couple them with the fact that the traditional broadcast and paper media are soon to be dinosaurs. Do you want Comcast and its fewer but larger friends slowing you down, or shutting off your access to your choices for information and entertainment? (We won’t talk about Comcast buying NBC, giving it with the incentive to give its new content business an edge.) I kind of like Steve Jobs; but, do you want him deciding what you can get on your iPhone and iPad?

Today we found out that Goldman Sachs may have been playing both ends against the middle, and it was regulated. Comcast, Apple and their friends are subject to few regulations. What are they planning that will have direct effects on your access to the world?


Lifehiker said...

I don't like "net neutrality". It makes me mad when some neighbor chokes my connection for hours by downloading who knows what. I think internet users should pay by the megabyte; bandwidth is a commodity like meat.

As far as Goldman Sachs goes, they ask you to check your ethics at the door. Go, SEC! Sic'em!

If you don't like Apple's closed system, don't buy Apple. I don't.

Dave said...

It's been a while since I read about net neutrality; but, I don't think it prevents the provider from tiering bandwidth, it just has to do it the same for all comers.

I do like Apple's computers, not it's new devices.