Apple versus Google in the Second Great Computer Wars: closed versus open
“I have been saying for years,” said Philippe Courtot, chairman and CEO of Qualys, “that we are simply not meant to be dependent on a huge complex operating system like Windows on the desktop; and that in the future, most of our computing will be done in the cloud.”
That prediction is now coming true with shrinking clients and expanding clouds. “Look at the audience of technology professionals in any conference,” he continued. “They’ve all got their iPads and or their smartphones; and nothing else. You can get your email on your smartphone; and if you need to write a longer report you can use your iPad and Google Apps.” We no longer need, and probably never wanted, bloated operating systems on huge desktop computers that served primarily to shackle us to our desks.
We were actually talking about security and the cloud. Courtot’s point here is that because of the cloud, we now only need thin clients. This has two ramifications. Firstly, use of the cloud will, counterintuitively, make us more secure since thin clients can more easily be hardened; and secondly, tied-down clients have a head-start on open clients.
Think of this last point. As we enter the Second Computer Wars (the First Computer Wars was 25 years ago between Apple and Microsoft, and the theatre was The Desktop; this one is between Apple and Google, and the theatre is The Internet), we must remember that weapons have changed. In the first war, Apple lost because it was closed. But in this war we must ask ourselves whether that very closed nature is now an advantage. Philippe Courtot certainly seems to think so.
Today it is closed Apple versus open Android/Chrome. “Microsoft and Nokia will be left in the dust,” adds Courtot; they each took wrong turnings. Microsoft thought it could carry on with its old philosophy while Nokia never really committed itself one way or the other.
Android versus iOS. Open versus closed. Logic leans towards closed; my heart hopes for open.