Just sitting here thinking about the competition between various computer companies and the amount of control they have over users. I am talking about the power to draw you into using their products at the expense of other choices. Apple has long been the propriety carrot on a stick with flashy offerings, the cost, your loyalty. What disturbed me was I was powering up an assortment of older machines I have, one being an Apple desktop. The only cord I had for it was a power cord, the rest of the cables were Apple's own and not PC standard cords. They control the hardware and the software and you buy into that system. With PC's it is better because Microsoft does not own the hardware side. But still Microsoft seems to have some leverage with hardware manufactures to accommodate its products and marginalize its competition. Of course we all know that software makers aggressively market their wares to convince us of the advantage of using their products. When you look at it from the users side, all we want is a workable and pleasant look and feel and ease of access to our files. You can see why users get anxious when a software company decides to change how it looks and also changes the file formats. Look at the audio world and the changes we had to endure. Eight track tapes were supplanted by cassettes and then by CD's. We really had to scramble to change our players and our songs to the new media. Now we have iPod like devices with flash memory. Today even cars makers are offering these digital audio devices and CD's are disappearing.
What's the point? Transparency is the point. I want access to my data and audio files regardless of the brand or type of equipment I have to use. We want open access but this runs contrary to the ideas of competition and marketing that companys engage in to get us to use their products. Vendor lock is not a bad thing to a company because it ensures a certain amount of bucks coming in. Offer a better solution and people will flock to the new product. When a conglomerate of vendors graces us with an industry standard, it is a kind of defeat to them because they have lost some leverage, some advantage in the market place. Demanding transparency is a users way of saying I still have a degree of control over the data I own and you vendors have to consider me in your product. Transparency suggests that it shouldn't matter which operating system I use or hardware, I still want access to my files. To be able to move data between an Apple, Microsoft and a Linux computer with little or no conversion defeats the idea of competition or technical advantage that one product might have over another. What if you could just move your data to another system and it didn't matter the company or the equipment or the software? Companys would have to find new ways to make money. A user wants to own the computer, the software and the data. Companys want to sell you new equipment, lease rights to use the software and allow you to access your data in a certain format. No we shouldn't consider users and vendors at odds, we should realize a kind of synergy that fuels a dynamic involvement. Today we fight toward a fair balance on all fronts but in reality we want transparency, a kind of digital freedom of movement.