Pick a Free OS

Making sense of the iPad 2 and open source

The first thing you do after buying an iPad is give Apple your credit card number, only which after you can download apps. You may think it's harmless to buy one song from Apple for $0.99, isn't it? That's what Apple makes you think, and that's their whole point. Slowly but steadily they'll squeeze your pocket app after app, song after song.

So the arrival of iPad 2 is a sexier attempt by Apple to squeeze money out of people. Nothing wrong, they are just trying to make money. Apple has made closed-sourcing the norm by their full control and crazy watch over their App Store. A while ago, one app, Dashboard iPad, was rejected by Apple, and was open-sourced, according to Engadget.

So Apple is forcing developers to think close source. They have a grand plan of all their devices singing in union. But will they bite for open source? Never. Apple is thinking like Microsoft here by offering tough contract terms for developers.

So steps in Google and Android. Android tablets are not widely available yet, but could soon compete on a larger scale. Apple's tablets will be sexier, but the overall spend for a user on an Android tablet could be less. And users and developers are not stuck to some arbitrary rules established by Apple. But the problem -- the Android tablets are not quite there yet. Xoom has received mixed reviews. So until Android tablets get better, Apple will retain its first-mover advantage.

It's possible to break the iPad and load your own OS, or even virtualize -- it's been done. To break the iPad you need to know the hardware, which is why the company controls the chip development as well. And only someone like Geohot has the ability to crack the iPad.

But free software or open-source isn't about cracking. It's about community, and the developer community reacts to Apple for apps to work cross-platform atleast, there could be a sense of unity across devices. That's one problem right now -- Android users want access to iPad/iPhone apps, and developers don't have the resources to code for both devices.

So Apple rules. But the battle between open source and iOS will intensify as more users pick up Android 3.0 tablets.  And for that, tablet and chip makers and chip makers like Nvidia have to cross-organize efforts to provide singluar developer tools. It's just a rant full of wishful thinking, but who knows.