Mozilla Slams Apple’s “Walled-Garden” Philosophy

    May 11, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

Apple is undoubtedly good at what they do. They create products that appeal to a large audience and many people have said that products like the iPad make it easier for people to interact with technology. Mozilla says bollocks to all of that in a recent interview.

Speaking to TechRadar, the company that Firefox built says that Apple is turning everybody into consumers, instead of creators. The company has long been a strong proponent of the open Web and they feel that the app culture Apple created threatens that openness. They say that the Web was created so that people don’t have to “install and uninstall applications for every single task.”

They feel that the Web and working with it are tools of education. It’s the kind of philosophy that the open source movement holds. If you don’t like it, find out how it works and fix it. The control Apple has over iTunes prevents that kind of education and creativity. Tristan Nitot, former president of Mozilla Europe, sums up his fears quite nicely:

“I am a web citizen and when I see that somebody in California can decide what I am allowed to install on a device that I paid for with my own money, that he will impose his own values that are not from my culture and are different from my context it seems very scary to me.”

It all comes down to the Web being an uncensored community of passionate people sharing their works with the world. Mozilla feels that letting a company’s moral guidelines decide what content can and can not be viewed is tantamount to censorship.

Apple’s walled garden approach has been seen as a threat to the openness of the Web by many critics. Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin spoke out against Apple saying that their philosophy led to less innovation. Even though he later had to explain himself as Google has been accused of using some of the same tactics that Apple uses.

It all comes down to the differing philosophies of the two companies. Apple wants absolute control over its platform because control leads to order. Mozilla chose the Web as its platform and the Web, as TechRadar points out, is pretty chaotic. People like order so they flock to Apple’s devices for that feeling of safety.

This all leads to the question of what we are willing to sacrifice for at least a sense of order. The Web is a scary place. It’s full of viruses, hackers and all kinds of dangerous things. Apple’s ecosystem is a safe, welcoming place that is mostly free of such dangers. If you ask me, I prefer the chaos of the Web. Sure, I’m putting myself at risk but there’s a wonder of discovery to the Web that you just can’t find in apps.

Where do you stand? Do you prefer the relative calm of these “walled gardens,” or do you prefer the rip roaring seas of the open Web? I don’t think you’re any less of a person for choosing one or the other, but that chaotic sea we know as the Web is definitely something worth protecting.

  • Melial

    I understand some of his complaints, but you can have both the freedom of the web and the security, performance and features of native apps on iOS.

    At least unlike Android, Apple’s HTML 5 implementation is industry-leading in features and performance. Streaming video in the Android browser is broken and CSS object animations rump to 100x slower than Mobile Safari.

    There are dozens of web browsers available for iOS including Opera, Dolphin, iCab etc.

    • Joey

      Industry leading HTML5 implementation? Are you serious? Mobile Safari is quite possibly the worst browser out of the market now; it’s been heralded as the new IE6. Any developer who built HTML 5 websites or applications knows this. In fact, the browser is so terrible, HTML 5 evangelists have event went as far as urging developers not to code for it.

      I personally don’t care what anyone’s preferences are for mobile devices, but the misinformation you spread is really awful.

  • Jacob

    Well… I think that the so-called “Walled Garden” principle is really only practical for a limited number of users. As I seem to recall, as the number of people using Apple products has increased, so too have the problems that were once all but unheard of on Apple’s devices.

    My point being that, while the open source community may be chaotic and at times hazardous, I fear that Apple may soon find its products to offer hazards without the chaotic appearance of solutions to such hazards.

    I think that if Apple’s number of users continues to expand, they are eventually going to have to open up their products a little more or they’re going to start having more problems than they can fix themselves.

  • Renaldo

    Mozilla? Who cares.

  • http://www.geekdept.com Chris Christensen

    I’m with Mellal on this. Mozilla’s claim is a bit illogical in that you can have the web and apps on the iOS devices. It is sad to see innovators like Mozilla whining in public rather than spending time innovating.

  • Wow

    The argument Mozilla is making is not logical at all. It’s not mandatory that we all own an iPhone, in other words if you don’t like it don’t buy it. Apple provides a closed OS for app development, this is true, and frankly why I as a consumer prefer to buy there products. But to say that your choices are limited by this is an ignorant statement indeed. Development of HTML5 will ultimately kill the app store, that is once the carriers update there networks. Not to mention you do have the choice to jailbreak your IOS device if you are so inclined. In other words, the device doesn’t limit your options, your choices do.

  • Zaragatunga

    What’s the difference between a “walled garden” and a prison, besides the pretty flowers? Is Apple your “gardener”, or your jailer? Getting control of your Apple device is called “jailbreaking” for a reason…

    I for one would rather be free, so no Apple devices or products here, thank you. And kudos to Mozilla for calling it like it is.

    • Joey

      Agreed. It’s very refreshing to hear the Church of Apple being scrutinized.