Why Apple isn’t a Benevolent Dictatorship

In the Open Source world we talk about how different projects organise themselves. Some are called “Benevolent Dictatorships” because a single person has the final say over what goes into the final product. Even those these are dictatorships and you have no way to get your work into the official release if the dictator doesn’t like you, you still have options. Because the source code is free, you can fork it. If you feel that Linus Torvalds is just being mean by refusing your great work, you can release your Linux patches to the world without him. It is a little extra work, but, in fact this happens all the time. Linux distributions maintain their own patch-sets for extended periods of time because Linus won’t add them to the “Real” Linux. Such is not the case with Apple. Most Apple users wouldn’t know what to do with source code if it hit them over the head, but the closed nature of Apple still has a dramatic effect on them. Many people love Apple simply because it looks pretty and it isn’t Microsoft. But, even Windows smartphones let you hack them. But, if you hack an iPhone, Apple will break it. Steve Jobs isn’t a benevolent dictator. He’s an egotistical control-freak. Sure, his company makes pretty software, but as we are learning more Apple wants to control what its users listen to and watch. Sure, Steve Jobs made some noise about freedom but he sounds just a little too draconian most of the time.

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