John vs Microsoft

This issue with Microsoft’s xCloud is particularly interesting to me because the only console I have currently is a switch. That combined with the MacBook Pro leaves a large gap in our gaming coverage. Add to that I actually have some free time to play games while I’m on paternity leave but sadly Apple seems pretty insistent that this app model isnt going to be ok with them.

I’ve been a long time fan of this idea of streaming games over the internet. I actually had an OnLive account including their hardware to stream games right to the TV. In my opinion is was perfect. No need to own and upgrade dedicated hardware in my house when I can just rent it in a data center. Its the ultimate “thin client” experience.

So the real question is why aren’t Apple allowing apps like this, including others like Google’s Stadia. Listening to Ben the answer is simple, is because its a threat to them and because they can. We know that Microsoft wrote and was testing an iOS version of the app so we know its technically possible.

Being a little bit of a devil’s advocate for Apple’s position on this. If a service like xCloud or Stadia were to be allowed they effectively become a new OS for the phone. iOS and all of its user protections including things like App Review and Sandboxing would be useless in that world. And I think for Apple its less about Microsoft and Google and their game services, native iOS games aren’t really competitive in that space anyway. But if they allow this what’s to stop another company from building a full streaming android OS. I’m not really sure why you’d want to that but in theory you could.

Ok, so its clear that wouldnt be good for Apple, not just because they would lose the 30% cut on everything going through the App Store. But it that catches on its basically just a backdoor App Store blessed method to fully unlocking the phone.

But all that said why is this bad for customers, which apple claims to care the most about. Using the more extreme example of an Android streaming OS thats so clearly a hack. What those customers really want is to install android on Apple hardware and I dont see them as being satisfied until the do that and thats just not the business Apple wants to be in.

If even 10% of their population started using android OS instead of iOS that would actually create incentives for apple to remove features from iOS since they would really just be uneaten fat slowing down the hardware. Maybe even go further and start letting iOS be installed on other makers hardware. Wouldnt that be the best for consumers because they could choose whatever hardware and whatever software they want instead of having to get them in a bundle.

But Apple, for better or worse, doesnt want to play that game. They didnt want to place it with PCs and they sure as hell dont want to play it with their phones. They thing iOS is great because its tailer built for specific hardware. That combination of hardware and software is the product. To apple and iPhone without iOS is like getting a Mercedes and asking them to put a Ford engine in it, it just doesnt make sense.

Even if they wanted to do it folks often underestimate how hard that is to do. Microsoft and windows get a lot of shit from people like me but getting Windows to install on just about anything you can imagine is an amazing feet of engineering that I’m sure took thousands and thousands of hours away from other things.

Its not just a distraction either, to Apple its defeating their whole purpose for existing. And its hard to argue that the most successful consumer product of all time isnt doing something right.

John ends this episode with a rant about game consoles and specifically xBox and he is totally right. The switch, PlayStation and xBox are just much a “general purpose” computer as the iPhone is. But PlayStation doesnt let you play xBox games on it, not cause it cant technically but because they want you to buy PlayStation games for it.

So it comes down to this. Should a company be allowed to tell you what you can and cant do with some computer hardware that you purchase. Clearly we want the answer to be no. And Apple, Playstation and xBox all have thriving “jail break” ecosystems. But if you wait into those waters with your hardware you are making the chose to go it alone and give up on any kind of warranties or support from Apple.

Any for me thats all I need to hear. As long as its technically possible to jailbreak these devices, and it always will be, I dont see any reason for it to be wrong to allow a company to lock them down in a way that fits their vision of what the device is for.

This is going to become an even bigger problem as we get smaller and smaller computers. Companies are going to need to custom engineer these devices around a smaller and smaller set of use cases for them to be successful. I know folks want to install streat fighter II onto their apple watches but at some point we have to be ok saying that maybe you shouldnt be able to install Minecraft onto your refrigerator. Maybe these systems get better if they are focused and purposeful