On Apple’s Walled Garden

Joanna Stern, WSJ:

Long ago, a gardener planted an iPhone. “It’s not good for a gadget to be alone,” he said. So he grew crops of iPads, Apple Watches and AirPods, and summoned an iCloud in the sky to connect and replenish them. Many people came to the garden to enjoy its delights. The gardener was happy, until he saw some people wandering out. So he stacked bricks, one atop another, with names like iMessage, Apple Photos, AirDrop, Apple Fitness+ and so on, until they formed a high perimeter. Then the people never left.


Apple Inc. is known for making some of the best tech products but none may be better designed than its “walled garden,” its closed ecosystem of devices and services. And next week, at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the walls will get even higher.


Apple’s garden…consists of three areas: hardware, software and services. Whatever Apple devices you’ve got, they all just work in “magical” harmony—or at least they’re meant to. But this magic doesn’t work with Android phones or Windows computers.


A few days with Samsung’s Galaxy S21 phone and new Galaxy Book Pro 360 Windows 10 laptop were all it took to show how Apple’s total control creates a superior experience.

(Watch Joanna’s video below)

John Gruber, from this reaction post:

The people who use the term “walled garden” in this context typically do so as a pejorative. But that’s not right. Literal walled gardens can be very nice — and the walls and gates can be what makes them nice. That’s been a recurring theme in the testimony from Apple executives in the Epic trial. Asked about rules and limits on iOS that Epic presents as nefarious — nothing but tricks to lock users in — Apple witnesses typically responded by presenting them as features. That iOS is wildly popular not despite the “walls”, but because of them.

When I think about the walled garden, I imagine what it would be like if I stopped all subscriptions, stopped paying monthly fees to Apple. For example, what would happen if I stopped my iCloud payments. How hard would it be to convert my iCloud data, my email, photos, video, Messages, etc., into an accessible, easy to navigate set of folders on my local drive?

And though it’s a bit piecemeal, Apple is quite good about supporting that export. For example, here’s how to download all your videos and photos from iCloud. You can do the same with your contacts as well.

As long as I can leave out anytime I like, and take my data with me, I’m good.