Via Digg comes an Infoworld article on the Australian LinuxWorld site (whew) regarding Apple’s retreat from OpenDarwin, its highest-profile open source initiative. The article claims that Apple was actually never all that cooperative with the open source movement. Perhaps they didn’t need to be for Darwin, but while the Mac version of Firefox is excellent, it’s a shame that there isn’t a full implementation of OpenOffice 2.0 for the platform yet.
It’s unclear why Apple open sourced Darwin; the InfoWorld article likely accurately describes it as “an experiment” even though NeXT engineers had plenty of BSD and Intel experience. Apple had issues with hackers trying to get the Intel version of Mac OS X running on non-Apple hardware, something that hasn’t become much of an issue since the OS started shipping there and may now be moot in light of Boot Camp and Parallels, so perhaps that led them to withdraw.
So, maybe the retreat from open source is “new,” but Apple’s embrace of proprietary design certainly tracks back to the company’s roots. Apple has little to fear regarding this:
Of course, there is a certain amount of hubris associated with such a top-down approach. It means that all the risk is placed squarely on Apple’s own shoulders. If the judgment of Steve Jobs and his lieutenants remains sound, Apple will doubtless continue its string of successes. If not, they will have no one but themselves to blame.
Or, to paraphrase Guy Kawasaki in a recent interview regarding Apple, the key to its success is hoping that Steve Jobs continues to think up great products. So far, his track record is pretty darn good.