Closed Systems–Putting Consumers Second

closed-systems-putting-consumers-secondI have a funny relationship with Apple and PlayStation – I love their products and hate their products at the same time. Specifically though, it’s closed ecosystems and the lack of consumer choice that is baked into these companies policies that really get me.

Apple is notoriously bad for maintaining closed products that, although they are great products, could be so much more if they just let go a little. I think the best comparison for Apple’s policies is an over-protective mother who can’t stand to see something happen to their child so they give them no freedom. It’s actually a perfect comparison. Perfect.

Apple’s software is locked down with minimal opportunity for customization. Users must resort to “jailbreaking” their phones in order to restore functionality to their phone that has been locked down. Jailbreaking has become extremely common – so much so, that it is crazy to believe that Apple still thinks it is working in the best interest of consumers. Don’t get me wrong, Apple products are great but they have so much more potential. Android is slowly but surely taking over the market because of its prevalence across devices as well as its open environment that allows both basic users and hackers enjoy the full ability of the hardware and software that they purchased. Apple, please learn soon. We are your customers. Hear us roar.

PlayStation also has a similar problem. Their customers pay hundreds of dollars for their hardware only to be restricted to the company’s wishes. PlayStation’s audience is hardcore gamers who like to hack and customize. They need to make sure they always operate for that audience. Restricting hardware might be okay for a system like the Wii (where many users are not techies) but not for a system like the PS3.

The funny thing about having a closed system is that if the mass public wants it open – they’ll get it open. When you get the attention of hundreds of hackers, it’s only a matter of time. If you won’t open it up, they WILL.

Hackers recently attacked the PlayStation network, taking it down for weeks. Their motivation is believed to be retaliation for PlayStation having attempted to sue a hacker that was hacking their software to make it more open. Their loss is estimated at billions. A pricey lesson to learn for not listening to your customers. Not to mention customers like myself losing respect for PlayStation.

PlayStation, Apple. Figure it out. Seriously.