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FCC: None of Your Damn Business

Erick Schonfeld writes a nice piece detailing the FCC's request to Apple, Google, and AT&T to clarify why the Google Voice application was rejected from the iPhone App Store. (h/t @ajkeen)

While I share Shonfeld's views on the importance of open pipes, I can't share his cheerleading of the FCC's inquiry: "The iPhone needs to be smashed open, and the FCC is swinging the hammer."

I think this is conceding victory to the iPhone in the handheld market way too early in the game. It is not some universal platform for access that we are all beholden to. The iPhone is what every product from Apple is: sleek, sexy, well designed, and easy to use. This extends well past the device itself and to the platforms and applications that support it, including the App Store. It is *not* open. To be open would go against the very fabric of what Apple is. Apple is more than a product or a platform; it's a lifestyle choice. Apple's market has always been to those people who don't want to peek under the hood. They want their experience to be easy, sanitized, sleek, and functional. They want whatever experience Steve Jobs wants them to have. He is their guru; their sherpa guide; their tour director for all things Tech. This is why Apple's stock takes a hit when Jobs gets ill. Without his vision, Apple doesn't have one. To quote the tweet from Andrew Keen, "Apple ecosystem good because its closed." That's true, to an extent. It's true for those who've elected to have their experience guided and moderated, and we have to leave room for that market.

So while I'm committed to an open and free Internet, I think this can be best addressed, not by the FCC dictating to Apple what it should and should not offer on their platform, but by letting Apple fill the niche it has filled since the Apple IIe: the easy-to-use moderated experience for the layman. There are plenty of competitors out there who will offer platforms of varying degrees of openness to their markets. With that openness comes complexity. Not everybody wants that, and I can understand. Those of us who want open access will seek it out. The market has room for all of our tastes, and if the FCC is willing to exert pressure on Apple to "open up", then they are just as likely to exert it on others to standardize towards some homogeneous handheld internet experience.

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