Steve Jobs: Savior or tyrant?

Love or loathe him, he gets under your skin. Readers weigh in on whether Steve Jobs is helping or harming the industry

Have Apple and Steve Jobs gone too far? I asked this question in a blog post last week ("Steve Jobs vs. the world").

Since then, Apple rejected an app from Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Mark Fiore, only to rescind the rebuttal after a media outcry. In an email to an Apple customer, Steve Jobs threw a zinger at Google, suggesting that users who wanted porn on the iPhone should adopt Android instead. (In response, the wags at eSarcasm immediately started a "Yes, Steve, I want porn" viral campaign.) Today, Adobe threw in the towel, saying it would abandon its efforts to port Flash apps to the iPhone if Apple was going to reject its technology outright.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Find out why Cringely thinks Apple's cat-and-mouse game with, well, everyone may be springing a leak in "Steve Jobs vs. the world" | Stay up to date on all Robert X. Cringely's observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

Not surprisingly, I got a ton of mail on this issue, both pro and con -- too many to share at one time. But here are some of the best.

Reader R. V. calls Steve Jobs a "pugnacious, fanatical little nerd" and urges Apple's board to oust him. (As if.) He writes:

Apple/Steve are incredibly monopolistic and controlling. More than Microsoft ever was. Apple now controls everything that goes on the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, for the most part. Totally locked in. Never in the history of personal computing have things been this controlled. Even content is being censored in the digital magazine space (Apple rejected Maxim recently). The irony is the company that espoused freedom of thought and expression has turned into big brother.

Cringester B. S. (no jokes please) takes exception to Apple's dissing of Adobe Flash:

I was one of the Apple faithful--for 29 years. I learned to program on an Apple II Plus in 1980. I write this on a Macbook--the last Apple product I will purchase until this Adobe nonsense ends. I have been an eLearning designer for the past 10 years. There is absolutely no equivalent to Flash for eLearning development. One of the projects I worked on recently is the Before the Boycott web site. HTML 5 will never provide the variable continuity, animation, and branching logic that is contained in this project. The sad thing is an open iPad would be a fantastic eLearning platform. I could see companies buying them by the gross as portable training devices. But who is going to want to send their eLearning to the App Store for Apple's approval?

Reader C. G., on the other hand, can see why Apple banned Flash: fewer performance problems and compatibility issues, as well as a lower risk of malware infections:

By locking down an iPhone and iPad, Apple is trying to make it very hard for a user to pick up any form of malware, and they are also trying to make the systems very easy to use. ...My experience of Flash on a Pentium 4, is that just one single web page could grind the CPU to 100% activity, making the system appear unresponsive, and the script kiddies have a habit of writing code that crashes browsers. Then there is the issue of all the incompatible browsers, and ensuring you have the latest version of Flash installed. ... Apple kit feels like it has been designed, whereas Microsoft's OSs feel more like the products of multiple committees that don't talk to one another. ...With Macs I've left it all behind. I'm therefore glad to see the back of Flash, and the desire of web designers to grind CPUs into the ground.

C. O., who apparently escaped the hell of Windows for the heaven of the Mac OS, writes with great enthusiasm about the iPad's "flawless, elegant" design, but says you're free to buy a piece of WinTel junk if that's what rocks your boat:

Any user has a choice -- Enter the Jobs ecosystem where developers do not have free reign, and users may have to make some small compromises, but an ecosystem that works brilliantly; or remain in the so-called "open" world of behemoths like Microsoft and Google, and search and search for hardware that isn't pure crap.

Meanwhile, Cringe fan (?) E. J. simply states I'm full of [excrement] -- and that's all he has to say about the matter. OK, fine. But since when has that not been true?

What about you? Got a strong opinion about Apple, Adobe, or what I'm full of? E-mail me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This story, "Steve Jobs: Savior or tyrant?" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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