In all fairness

I know that Apple got a lot of hate from Free Software developers (and not) for the way they handle their App Store, mostly regarding the difficulty to actually get application approved. I sincerely have no direct experience on the thing, but if I apply what I learnt from Gentoo, the time they might take to get the applications approved sounds quite about right for a thorough verification.

Google on the other hand, was said to take much less time, but by personal experience to search for content on the Android Market, I can only find DVD Jon’s post quite on the line. There are a number of applications that are, if not entirely, on the verge of frauds, that got easily approved.

On the other hand, as soon as Google was found to add to the Froyo terms of services the fact that they reserve the option of remotely killing an application, tons of users cried foul. Just like they did for Apple, that also has the same capability and has been exercising it for applications that were later found not to agree with their terms of services.

*A note here: you might not like the way Apple insists on telling you what you should or should not use. I understand it pretty well, and that’s one of the reasons why I don’t use an iPhone. On the other hand, I don’t think you can say that Apple is doing something evil by doing so. Their platform, their choice; get a different platform for a different choice.*

So there are a number of people who think that Apple’s policy in reviewing application is evil (and Google’s allowing possible frauds is a-ok), and in both cases, the remote killswitch is something nasty and a way for them to censor the content for whatever evil plan they have. That points a black light on both of them, doesn’t it? But Mozilla should be fine, shouldn’t it?

I was sincerely wondering what those people who always find a way to despise “big companies” like Apple and Google at the same time, asking their users to choose “freer” alternatives (often times with worse problems) would think while I was reading Netcraft’s report of the malware addon found on the Mozilla index.

I quote: “Mozilla will be automatically disabling the add-on for anyone who has downloaded and installed it.” So Mozilla has a remote killswitch for extensions? Or how are they achieving this?

And again: “[Mozilla] are currently working on a new security model that will require all add-ons to be code-reviewed before becoming discoverable on addons.mozilla.org.” Which means they are going to do the same thing that Apple and Google already do (we’ll have to wait and see to find out to which degree).

Before people misunderstand me: I have nothing against Mozilla and I think they are on the right track here. I would actually hope for Google to tighten their approval process, even if that means much longer turnaround for new applications to be available. As an user, I’d find it much more reassuring than what we have right now (why half the demo/free versions of various apps want to access my personal data, hmm?).

What I’m trying to say here, is that we should really stop crying foul for any choice that Apple (or Microsoft, or Sony, or whoever) makes, they might have quite good reasons to do so, and we might actually follow their steps (like Mozilla appears to be going to do).

6 thoughts on “In all fairness

  1. I bet the people you talk about already don’t like Mozilla corporation and use Iceweasel or something :) So for them it will be another case in point.

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  2. In defense of Mozilla’s planned review process, so far it appears that it is only a restriction on extensions published through addons.m.o, so users who want to install unapproved addons can fetch those addons from authors’ sites. As I understand it, Apple does not provide any way for iPhone users to install unapproved applications on a non-jailbroken iPhone.The Mozilla remote extension kill ability is part of an open product, so if people really find it to be used for more evil than good, it can be disabled and a (non-trademark-branded) browser can be built from the modified source. The iPhone has no such escape path.

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  3. I _still_ have problems to understand “Anonymous” comments on a blog like this, bah.But at any rate, “in defense” of Mozilla? I have *not* attacked Mozilla. The fact that you have to “defend” them (by making reasons up on why Apple is still evil and Mozilla is still not).I guess Caster won the bet here.

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  4. Comments are anonymous because I do not feel like having them tied to the name I use to post elsewhere.I read your remark “Mozilla should be fine, shouldn’t it?” to be sarcastic in nature, and responded accordingly. Since you say it was not meant to be an attack, and therefore was likely not intended to be sarcastic, I apologize. However, I hardly think the rationale I offered is made up. There *is* a difference in the process between Apple’s advertised behavior and the proposed AMO review process, and I think that people *will* offer arguments similar to my comment in asserting why Mozilla is good and Apple is evil. I do not have an iPhone, but the reason for that is unrelated to the application review process or any other Apple behavior, actual or anticipated.I see Caster’s comment, but I do not understand how the bet he was proposing applies here. If someone were to read my first comment as taking sides, I would expect it to be read as taking the side of Mozilla corporation, in which case I am _not_ in the category about which he was betting. I happen to disagree with Mozilla corporation on various issues, but AMO is not one of them. I am still perturbed about the handling of the AwesomeBar.

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  5. While I agree with all of that… I think the main difference between Apple and the other options is that with Apple your only choice for apps is their app store. With Android and Mozilla you can install apps/addons from anywhere as long as you disable checking…

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  6. Agreed, they go one step further… but I still think it’s up to them to decide whether to do that or not and it’s up to the user to decide _knowing that_, rather than complain that they can’t do it.

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