Apple’s ‘Kill Switch’

Useful piece about “the struggle to balance openness and control”.

“I AM RICH” is an iPhone application that made a brief debut on Apple’s software store this month. It cost $999.99 and did nothing more than put a glowing ruby on the iPhone’s screen. Seeing it as cynical rather than practical, Apple yanked it (after eight people bought it).

Apple has fought with developers and killed applications before. Indeed Apple’s boss, Steve Jobs, acknowledged that the iPhone has a “kill switch” that lets the company remotely remove software from people’s handsets. “Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Apple’s corporate culture is famously closed. By closely overseeing their hardware and software, the company believes it can better ensure that everything works properly. Opening their systems to independent developers entails a loss of control that they find hard to handle. Other companies can sympathise…

The article also mentions Jonathan Zittrain’s book.