Why did the U.S. government sell out against Open Source?

Picking iPhone over Android questions the whole open source security model.

The U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) just announced that they have replaced over 17,000 Blackberry phones with Apple's iPhones. While I can understand the reasoning behind replacing the BlackBerry phones, I don't quite get the logic on going to another closed system like Apple's iOS. It seems that the ICE did not want Android because of its open nature. The report says that the "strict control of the hardware platform and operating system" that Apple provides was a plus. Wasn't the U.S. government supposed to be a big supporter of open source? 

What they are really saying here is that open source has security concerns. Because it is not locked down and instead open, this made it less desirable to ICE. This is the wrong message for open source in general and Android in particular. It is a mistake.

Let's analogize to Linux. If ICE had picked Mac computers over a Linux desktop because Apple's "strict control of the hardware platform and operating system," what would the Linux community in particular and the IT industry in general have said? Of course, Linux would give the agency many more choices for supply, design and choice. When did monolithic go back in style?

It is exactly the strict control they praised that could limit choices and hinder innovation. Not only that, it creates the ultimate vendor lock in.   Just as ICE was locked into RIM while it became an irrelevant market player, it is now locking in to another closed platform. They will march to Apple's beat, whether ICE likes it or not. They spoke about the iPhone being independent of a service provider. If that was relevant, which platform offers more choices than Android?

Did they not take into account that Apple doesn't claim to be an enterprise company? That the iPhone is not optimized for the workplace, but a personal consumer item? Apple's track record shows that if you want enterprise features in the iPhone, they tell you it is not an enterprise product. Why would the ICE pick a closed consumer product? It just doesn't make sense.

What about price? Is someone going to tell me that the iPhone is now cheaper than the Android alternatives? Not in the universe I live in. How much more is the government going to spend on 17,000 iPhones then they would on those phones if they were Android?

The whole thing just doesn't make sense to me (if you couldn't tell that from what I have already written). The government is supposed to be encouraging the use of open source. Open source gives us more options and choices. It generally costs less. But, nevertheless, they pick the iPhone. Does the government's open source policy begin and end with Linux?

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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