Wozniak laments closed Apple

In an interview with TechCentral, Steve Wozniak says Apple, the company he co-founded with Steve Jobs in 1976, should have taken a more open approach with its iOS operating system and should have developed two separate iPhones with different screen sizes to take on rival products more effectively. By Duncan McLeod.

Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak, the engineering genius who co-founded Apple and designed the Apple I and Apple II computers, says the company has become too closed in its approach and should make iTunes, for one, available on the Android operating system developed by rival Google.

The outspoken Wozniak, also well known by his nickname “Woz”, is in SA this week to talk to delegates at First National Bank’s leadership summit. An audio transcript of his interview with TechCentral is available as a podcast.

He tells TechCentral that although he remains a “loyal Apple person” — he left the company in 1987 — he wishes it had “taken steps” to maintain the lion’s share of the market it once enjoyed with the iPhone rather than ceding ground to Android.

“What could Apple have done? The only suggestion I would have had is if the iPhone would have been just as great a product as it was, but more open,” he says, adding that Apple should have taken a more open approach with iOS, the iPhone’s operating system.

He points to the iTunes music management software, which Apple made available to users of Microsoft’s Windows platform in 2003. This, he says, spurred sales of the iPod digital music player. “Apple became a huge company when it shared iTunes with the world. It doubled the size of our company. It was a big lesson and has really led to the success of the entire generation of iProducts.”

He adds: “Why don’t we have iTunes on Android? We should sell our music platform wherever we can. It would still be optional, we’re not forcing iTunes on anyone, but people who like iTunes for music would have it on any platform.”

Wozniak, a self-confessed fan of Android, says he thinks Google is doing a good job in developing the operating system into an easy-to-use platform, describing it as more of an Apple-style product than something Microsoft would develop.

“I know the guy behind Android extremely well. He’s a long-time good friend [and] this guy is a total Apple-head,” Wozniak says. “I always criticised Windows. I don’t have that feeling about Android.”

‘Kind of arrogant’
Wozniak also worries that Apple has missed a trick by offering only one size of iPhone and suggests the company had become “kind of arrogant”.

As smartphones become bigger — Samsung’s market-leading Android handset, the Galaxy S3 has a 4,8-inch screen versus the iPhone 5’s 4-inch display — it’s become harder for the iPhone to stand out from the crowd, Wozniak says.

“Part of me wishes that Apple had not been so [he pauses] kind of arrogant … and I wish they had made a small and a large version of the iPhone,” he says. “Keep the aspect ratio the same, but grow it the other way.

“Apple tricked itself and said you could reach everything with one thumb and I don’t see anyone having trouble using the larger screens,” he says. “Apple said that as a defensive move because when the other phones came out they all had larger screens. Apple is now trying to run with that defence, saying ‘we are right’, and really there’s a mix of people. Not all people want the same thing and a lot of people like the big screens.”

He says it bothers him when he walks into retail stores and sees the handsets, with larger screens than the iPhone’s, on offer from rival manufacturers. “If you compare the screen size right there in front of you, whether it means much or not … you get a feeling you’re getting more with a larger screen.”  — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media

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