Would you like Chrome with that?

Another iTunes victim

Apple gets lambasted all over the place — and deservedly so — for bundling iTunes and/or Safari with QuickTime. As my reader knows, I’ve been an Apple fan[boi] long enough to have used the phrase “bleed in six colors” and yet I am not a lover of iTunes — even on a Mac. For a start it killed QuickMP3 overnight, and that was earning me serious “occasional Chinese takeout” money. My issues with iTunes are that (1) it keeps on freaking launching (but then so does iPhoto, (2) is amazingly sluggish for what ought to be a simple program, (3) is stupidly inflexible about where you put your music, and … well it goes on and on. It does work fairly well once it launches (but I understand the Windows version crashes more often, and of course has that “faux Mac look” Apple likes to infuriate Windows users with).

I am downloading Google Earth right now and guess what I’m getting as a free, unasked-for “bonus”? Yup, it’s Chrome. After downloading all that shizzle, the installer intelligently informed me that — it’s already installed!

One of the things I hate about Microsoft is that it competes destructively — it doesn’t just want to make lots of money from its products, it doesn’t want anyone else to if it can help it. E.g. Microsoft has no 3D strategy at all. At one stage it bought SoftImage (one of the big 3D platforms used by Hollywood studios). Initially they used the purchase to force SGI to commit seppuchu (by porting everything to NT and allowing Intergraph to eat its lunch), but long after SGI was circling the drain they slashed XSI’s prices — causing devastation in the 3D industry — and then sold the company to Autodesk Avid (it is now owned by Autodesk). Wonderful. Recently, Microsoft bought Truespace and then started giving it away for free. Good luck to you indie 3D software developers on the Windows platform.

Do you think Apple couldn’t behave similarly if it wanted to? Apple gets pilloried for doing stuff like Dashboard (superficially similar to another useless product, but much more efficient) and iWeb (they warned (correction: hinted to) Karelia that Sandvox would have a free competitor, Karelia ignored them and released Sandvox, Apple delivered, Karelia whined publicly — in the interests of full disclosure I own Sandvox and iWeb and consider both to be flawed beyond usefulness). A lot of Mac-folk would love Apple to clean Adobe’s clock (“Welcome to iPhoto 2010 — it’s Aperture 3! Oh and 10.7’s Preview has layers, gaussian blur, curves, CMYK, HDRI, Lab Color, and 16-bit channel support.”), but it steadfastly refuses to do so.

Google seems to be of the same mindset as Microsoft. It’s not just content to make money, it wants to casually mangle anyone in its vicinity, subsidizing this antisocial behavior with unending ad revenue. Microsoft makes chump change out of netbooks — let’s give away an OS just to mess with them. Flickr seems like a neat idea, let’s borg that and half-assedly integrate it with gmail. It’s one thing to launch businesses that have no real profit model but are innovative and have some hope of owning a valuable future market — that’s what innovative companies do. It’s another entirely to come into a profitable niche where someone — not even a competitor really — is making a little money with a free clone of their product (cross-subsidized internally) and just do massive damage. That’s actually illegal — it’s called dumping and — sorry to break it to you — it’s Google’s Standard Operating Practice.

And these are the “good” guys.

  • Just a clarification – Karelia was definitely not “warned” about iWeb coming out. Apple doesn’t do that. We heard a rumor it was going to be announced a few days before it was announced. Yes, it was a bummer that we had a free competitor, but that’s life. When we saw that iWeb had a lot of limitations, we decided to release Sandvox anyhow, eyes wide open.

  • Sorry if I overstated it, but Apple’s hints are pretty broad. I remember you (or someone else at Karelia) mentioning that it wasn’t that you didn’t think Apple was going to release (something like) iWeb, but that you doubted they’d deliver in a timely fashion based on past experiences along the same lines.

  • With Flickr, you mean half-assedly integrate it with Yahoo! mail

  • Actually I meant “make/acquire a clone of it — picasaweb — and glom that half-assedly onto gmail”.