[LINK] iPad

Stilgherrian stil at stilgherrian.com
Thu Jan 28 22:19:14 AEDT 2010

On 28/01/2010, at 5:06 PM, Ivan Trundle wrote:
>>  *  All applications must be signed by Apple if they are to run,
>>       an unprecedented level of control for a general purpose
>>       computer.
> Big deal. This has always been so with the iPhone (and who is to say that the iPad is a general purpose computer?). There are reasonably good reasons for control at this point. Again, it hasn't stopped the billions of app downloads to date.

I used the "general purpose computer" term in my article, but that was perhaps a mistake because it's not a sufficiently clear term.

I'm starting to see perhaps three levels of "generalness" in computing devices:

1. A single-purpose or few-purpose device which (apart from firmware updates) is essentially a black box. Configurable, but not extensible. Examples: broadband router, PVR, Kindle, digital radio.

2. A platform deice which can be extended through downloadable or DVD-borne applications, but which is modular at a fairly high level. Examples: Playstation, xBox, iPhone, iPad.

3. What we would traditionally call a computer, which we can configure all the way down to the turtles.

I was using "general purpose computer" to mean type 2 when compared with type 1, but clearly the iPad is not type 3.

I'm starting to think two quite clear thoughts:

1. Most computer users with a Windows or OS X machine have a type 3 computer on their desk, but they really only need type 2. The vast majority of people surely use a handful of applications. All the flexibility of a type 3 system actually creates more security risks than anything else.

2. This really isn't a clear 3-level hierarchy but a continuum.


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