For a long time, we’ve lost a lot of business and really abandoned reviewing some of the hottest gadgets out there. Why? Because companies like Apple and Microsoft probably don’t want us reviewing them.
It’s no secret that we’ve become a bit of the black sheep in the mobile media, by pushing hard for the opposition of walled gardens. We’re putting an end to that.
The simple fact is that regulators in both the US and EU have failed to stop the onslaught of walled gardens, and hence, ensuring that you must buy software from a single source; the OS vendor. That was already the case on iOS, and it is the case today with Windows 8 modern applications, as well as all applications on Windows RT.
Add in today’s news that tablets will not be exempted from the DMCA, and it becomes legally questionable if you can sideload an app onto a Windows RT device, or a Windows 8 modern app, without permission from Microsoft. We’ve asked Microsoft several times, and they have refused to affirm if they will offer a sideloading “feature product key” to the public. Microsoft has affirmed that this is an option built-in to Windows 8 and Windows RT, but apparently haven’t decided if they will eventually offer this to users. If they have decided, they sure aren’t telling anyone.
This is really important stuff. A single vendor (Apple/Microsoft) now gets to decide which software can get published on the vast majority of computers sold today (especially if you count tablets as PCs). A small business can now live and die by the fiat of a single large corporation. Their copious investments in software development, can now be quashed by a simple App Submission Declined email.
The only way that this will change, is with user awareness. Giving iPad mini a one-star rating over this issue, from one news source, isn’t going to change the situation. It might have in ’08, if we had the viewership, when App Store hit 1.0. None of that matters today.
We will resume reviewing Apple products, and yes, we’re going to be taking a look at tablets other than Android. Even Windows RT. And we’re going to give them a fair shake… with an asterisk. We will note at the bottom of each review, a Walled Garden statement. This will be one standard statement letting you know that the device has a Walled Garden, and how your freedom to use the device is limited as a result.
Moving forward, we’re going to embark on setting up a foundation. A joint effort focused on informing the public on walled gardens, and how they affect consumer freedoms. We think there are actually a lot of companies, and our colleagues in the media, that would be willing to sign on to that effort.
This is the most important issue at stake for the freedom of consumers to use devices in the ways they wish… and not the ways the largest corporations in the world wish. It’s going to take a team effort, from the entire tech sector opposed to walled gardens, to make ending walled gardens a reality.