How closed will the Mac universe be in, say, 5 years?


I love using my Mac. I like my iPhone. The new Air is really an interesting piece of hardware.

Part of the reason I like my Apple products is that they run quite stable and offer a pleasant overall experience with installing/uninstalling applications. I also like the fact that I can use my Linux/Unix shell commands on it.

But there are times when I wonder how long I’ll like to use Apple products.

The newly announced MacApp Store will probably make finding and installing (and, of course buying) applications easier than ever.  But there is a back side to the coin. Apple wants the experience to be as good as possible and so tries to keep everything out of the App Store that may disturb this. By explicitly disallowing all programming languages other than C/Objective-C and runtime environments, they try to make sure that you cannot install anything from the App Store that’s not perfect. But what’s perfect is defined by Apple.

As long as it is still possible to install software on a Mac that is not purchased in the App Store, I still have a choice, and if I want a Java/Ruby/Smalltalk/Clojure/Scala-written program on my Mac I still can do so. But what if Apple decides to lock Mac OS 11 completely and only allow Apps from their App store on it?

Will we have to jailbreak our Macs to run Eclipse or Pharo in a few years?

And what if Apple is succesful with this policy? How long will we be able to install software of choice on any other commercially available OS?

Let’s hope I am just dreaming a nightmare and reality is different…

One thought on “How closed will the Mac universe be in, say, 5 years?

  1. I agree, use OSX for the same reasons. I suspect, that if/as that happens, you’ll see a resurgence in Linux desktop development and a return to that. 10-ish years ago, many of use discovered Linux, and invested into the movement, because MS made it worthwhile to do so. And if Apple does that, I imagine the pendulum will swing back the other way… for a while. For me, the thing to understand and accept is that the pendulum never stops swinging.

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