In 1984, Steve Jobs launched the Macintosh along with a now iconic ad called “1984”, which was meant to show that Apple stands up to “Big Brother” of the computing industry, which was IBM back then. But at the 30 year anniversary of that ad, Apple is showing that they have become the Big Brother of the current computer industry, and that 2014 really is like 1984.
Apple is continuing to not just reject apps based on weak excuses that don’t make sense and aren’t even compatible with their own policies, but also to pull 2 year old apps, that they’ve already approved according to their own policies established before that, and after the apps have already achieved significant market share. I’m talking now about the recent removal of the Bitcoin wallet app, Blockchain, but this has already happened to all other Bitcoin wallets in the store. Blockchain is just the last one, and the more popular one.
As part of Blockchain’s response, the company said this:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward.” – Apple, Inc.
Perhaps Apple should have added a disclaimer: “As long as the ‘rebels’ don’t threaten our profit margin”. The rebels no longer run the show at Apple Inc, the beancounters are now firmly in charge.
This once again points to the fact that Apple is no longer the company “fighting the Man”, but the Man itself. It’s not about the “rebels” anymore, the innovators, the ones trying to break the system and lead to progress. Apple is now the system that is meant to be broken, and they will actually fight against all these rebels trying to change that system.
Another insight from this response is that Apple is now run by “beancounters”, which really couldn’t be a better description for Tim Cook. He’s the “operations guy”, so by definition he’s the guy counting beans and making sure the old system is working properly. He’s not a visionary. He’s not someone who will push things further. He won’t “break things” in the name of progress, and he certainly won’t encourage or support anyone who does it. He’s just there to maintain the system let in place by Steve Jobs, for as long as that’s possible (probably not too long, because eventually industries change radically, and you need someone who understands the change and how to adapt to that change).
These actions by Apple once again demonstrate the anti-competitive and capricious nature of the App Store policies that are clearly focused on preserving Apple’s monopoly on payments rather than based on any consideration of the needs and desires of their users.
There have been rumors about Apple launching a payment service with the release of the iPhone 6, because they see all the commerce happening on iOS as a big opportunity for them. The “problem” is that if Bitcoin became very popular on the iOS platform, that would be quite a problem for them. Bitcoin is competition to any payments platform. Apple knows this, and we all know just how much Apple likes competition to its own apps or services.
If they were going to launch their own payments service, this would be the time to ban all Bitcoin apps (going by Apple logic here), because they can’t do it as easily after they launch their own payment service. It would be too obvious why they are all of the sudden banning Bitcoin apps. So they have started banning them before they launch their own service, hoping people won’t figure it out, and that they won’t “connect the dots” (something Steve Jobs liked to say) after they launch their own service.
If you want to stand up to Apple for doing this, there are two ways to do it, and both are necessary: make a lot of noise about it everywhere you can until it becomes a #bitcoingate of sorts (which won’t be enough on its own, as Apple has escaped these before, almost unscathed), and never buy an Apple device again, while recommending everyone you know to do the same. This tends to add up over time. Word of mouth, even negative word of mouth, is a powerful thing, sometimes much more effective than any advertising budget.
If Apple is banning Bitcoin, the Bitcoin community (and everyone the people in the community knows) needs to ban Apple.