While I'm writing four-chapter dissertations, I wanted to throw in one last thing just in the extremely off-chance that anyone inside Apple happens across this page.
I was a little disappointed when the App Store was released. Not just because of the lack of trials -- you already know that. Like every other geek, the idea that programs could not be written and installed independently of Apple's stronghold was more than a little concerning. And rightfully so, as we've seen with applications like Google Talk. But cell phones in general were riddled with DRM and the iPhone was no worse, so it was still the better option.
You know what isn't so riddled with DRM? Personal computers. Laptops, netbooks, desktops, tablets, regardless of their operating system, can all be customized. Anyone can write any application and distribute it on any website, and any user is free to install it. That's how it's always been, and how it always will b-- oh wait.
The Apple iPad is a disgrace in the face of a company that once embraced open platforms and standards. Your DRM was accepted on the iPhone because all phones had it. But now you're moving that same load of absurd restrictions into the personal computing market. Making commonplace the idea that all software has to go through your gates. That no developers are free to create and distribute what they want.
You, the Apple employee reading this, are responsible. No tech designer or programmer with self-respect and standards would stand for this hugely damaging blow to the computing market. The idea that any geek could stand behind this move, no matter the size of their paycheck, is sickening. The release of this device, as-is, could lead to the mainstream removal of every computer freedom we've taken for granted in the years to come. And you, the individual are responsible for it.
But there's still time to change it. Apple's already advertised the device as a really really big iPod Touch, with the same app store and same restrictive back-end. No one inside your company can turn back on that now. But what CAN be done is taking a page from the playbook of any popular Linux distribution -- as well as from the iPhone jailbreak community.
Every major Linux distribution has software repositories just like Apple's app store. Apt, Yum, Portage. All central locations to have software automatically downloaded and installed. And every single one of them allows users to add links to other repositories, enabling them to get software distributed freely by others, hosted on their own servers. Add this ability to the iPad app store -- or even better, all of your devices' app stores -- and everyone wins. Non-"computer people" who get confused by extra options won't explore any of it. Your application sandbox protects the device from malware, so even if a non-techie did manage to plug in an unsafe repo, their device is still secure. The device opens its doors to software free of Apple's app store and makes tech folk happier, but Apple still retains their 30% profit margin because apps can never get truly popular unless they're part of your default repo. Finally, this move would eliminate the reason many iDevice owners jailbreak in the first place.
So there's your choice, individual inside Apple. It doesn't fix all the problems with this ridiculous excuse for a computer, but it puts it on a far better path. Do all you can to encourage the change. Be so bold as to cross the line, if you need to. Because after all, can you honestly say you want to work for a company responsible for the mainstreaming of so many digital restrictions on personal computers?