Is Apple Evil?

The company's obsessive perfectionism has won it popularity--and a few detractors.

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It's a race to the bottom for the favor of tech-pundits: which much-adored company, Apple or Google, should we fall out of love with sooner?

Tipping the scales against Apple is Jason Calacanis, founder of Weblogs and Maholo. His argument hit the Web on Saturday, immediately igniting a blogospheric explosion. Here's a precis of his case, which focuses mostly on the company's tendency to exert extremely fine-grained control over its products:

1. Destroying MP3 innovation through anti-competitive practices

2. Monopolistic practices in telecommunications

3. Draconian App store policies that are, frankly, insulting

4. Being a horrible hypocrite by banning other browsers on the iPhone

5. Blocking the Google Voice Application on the iPhone

The blowback was passionate and striking. MG Siegler at TechCrunch articulated the strongest rebuttal, arguing that Apple's intense finickiness and obsessive control over its products is exactly what makes the company good.

While Calacanis certainly has some valid points, I would argue that some of his points simply reinforce what makes Apple, Apple. By controlling the ecosystem surrounding their products, Apple ensures a great user experience for the majority of users...If Apple stops making products that are great, it will start to decline. If someone else comes along with a better product, Apple will decline. It's that simple.

But more than a few voices seconded the idea that Apple had gone from being a counter-cultural, anti-corporate warrior to a profit seeking would-be monopolist like any other. As Dion Almaer writes:

It feels like we are at the start of a real sea change. A bunch of people reached out to say "I am kinda feeling that too."...We are being far too easy on Apple. Jason is right, we should be outraged!

Has public opinion begun to flip, such that Microsoft--the perennial bete noire of tech commentators--is now the underdog, while Apple has become a lumbering villain, and Google a greedy monopolist?

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