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Steve Jobs to App Store for Mac: 'Nope'

A full explanation. Keeping fingers crossed.

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CUPERTINO (Rixstep) — Apple CEO Steven Paul Jobs has given a thorough response to the story that the company have been planning a restrictive Apple-controlled software distribution mechanism for their coming Mac OS X update.


That response should immediately set everyone's fears to rest.

Everything's been pointing in that direction for some time, with or without someone blowing a whistle.

  • The success of the App Store. And it's clear Apple themselves perceive the store as their biggest iPhone asset. The iPhone may be a piece of brilliant technology but at the end of the day it's what you use that technology for, how useful that technology is. Android might be gaining on the iPhone but the iPhone is still the de facto market leader, primarily because of the App Store.
  • Code signing. Code signing helps to keep the iPhone secure but it's mostly irrelevant on Mac OS X. Apple's web apps can use it to ensure integrity but there's no low-level control of anything else. And it's trivial to remove the codesign section of a binary. Yet Apple have been consistently using code signing on all apps for some time now.
  • Apprehension about security. There are still no major attacks on Mac OS X but that doesn't mean people in Cupertino aren't afraid the sky is falling. They're deprecating the framework for SMTP communications - as if they want to thwart a repeat of the infamous 'ILOVEYOU' worm that hit Microsoft ten years ago. The oft-heard explanation that their vintage code got out there by mistake doesn't wash: they could have made it a private framework and withheld the headers.
            Message Framework
            Copyright (c) 1997, Apple Computer, Inc.
            All rights reserved.
    /*! @header
        NSMailDelivery.h includes the class
        NSMailDelivery, which allows applications to send
        email using Mail.
        This API is deprecated. See SBSendEmail for alternatives.
  • Control. Apple - and their CEO - like to totally control everything. The original iPod was hermetically sealed with no official (or easy) way to open it and replace the battery. The Mac OS X kernel has a limerick pleading with people to not run the system on anything but Apple hardware. Apple are the most secretive company in the world - and they use this secrecy as a marketing tool.
  • Lack of interest in Mac OS X. Apple 'computers' and their OS haven't been the big breadwinner for over seven years now. The iPod quickly eclipsed everything else, then came the iPhone, now the iPad. This is where they're making their big money. The computer side of the business isn't tanking but it's the oldest child and feels rather neglected. And Steve Jobs isn't keen on challenging Bill Gates on the desktop anyway. He says the war for the desktop is over and he seems to concede defeat. And as always: he has other things in mind.
  • Lack of relevance. Any number of pundits have proclaimed the laptop gone and replaced by the iPad. Certainly for ordinary end users the Apple tablet is an attractive solution. The iPad is an appliance with all that connotes: greater reliability, security, and so forth. Most end users don't want to tinker.
  • No enterprise marketing. Apple eschew relationships with the enterprise sector. They've gone on record to say they can't turn away enterprise clients but won't solicit their custom either. Apple's attempts to enter the lucrative enterprise and government markets have been abortive. They don't really need a 'computer' if they don't want the enterprise.

It takes a lot of spin to trap everyone in a walled Mac garden. But it's a win-win for Apple even in the short run. Whether the prophecy leaked is correct in all its bizarre details or not, there can be little doubt Apple are heading in that general direction.

So thanks, Steve. You gave us all what we wanted. Sort of. There's now something people can cite if they need to. But an ambiguous four-letter monosyllabic answer to two questions at once won't do it.

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