Friday, November 13, 2009

Techno-Pessimistic Liberals Miss the Droid Cluetrain

Droid is an existence proof that disproves Techno-Pessimistic Liberal complaints about the coming closed internet:

How can a device like this even exist when America's leading cyberlaw experts have been telling us that the whole digital world is increasingly going to hell because of "closed" devices, proprietary code, and managed networks? I'm speaking, of course, about the lamentations of Harvard professors Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan Zittrain, and their many disciples.... If all these dour predictions about the death of digital generativity and the rise of closed networks and walled gardens were true, how in the world does a phone with an open source operating system and a completely open applications process for developers even exist?

What's more amusing is that the techno-pessimists, who lament Apple's 'closed/walled garden' Apps store, are actually iPhone users:
I used some shameless McCarthyite tactics during our debate at New America Foundation last year -- "Are you now, or have you ever been, an iPhone user!"

The techno-pessimistic Liberals calling (unnecessarily) for net neaturality Miss the Droid cluetrain - that these different models/approaches exist because they each serve a customer need.

The Droid is open because the Google Android effort was open, and it was open because those involved saw an opening for such a platform. However, the more controlled iPhone platform innovated so much in the mobile phone space that one could well say the Droid would not be what it is today without iPhone leading the way in defining what a Smartphone is. Forcing open-ness up front could well have prevented the innovation that led to Droid.

The real iPhone/Droid evolution lesson is this: If we want real freedom, we want both open and closed business models, so consumers and businesses have more choice and freedom, and so innovation proceeds without impediment.

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