Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 8th Apr 2010 12:20 UTC
Editorial Car analogies are quite popular on internet discussion forums, and ours is no exception. The problem with these analogies, however, is that they are usually quite flimsy, and a recent popular one is no exception. A number of people are now arguing that computer makers' move towards closed platforms (Apple, Sony, and so on) is akin to people no longer being able to service cars on their own. This analogy, which looks sound on a superficial level, breaks down when you spend more than five minutes contemplating it.
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If the car is the computer...
by mrhasbean on Thu 8th Apr 2010 14:05 UTC
mrhasbean
Member since:
2006-04-03

...then it is the fuel that it uses that is the OS, not the engine, and there are very real emission and performance laws as well as operational limitations for using different types of fuels in any given engine. Granted you can purchase approved fuels from any number of suppliers, but the reality is that if a car manufacturer wanted to produce a vehicle that met all required emissions, safety and performance laws, and they built that car to work with only fuel that they manufacture, legally there would be nothing to stop them. It would be up to the public to determine whether they believed there was sufficient value in the whole package to justify their purchase, just like it is with Apple's devices.

When it comes to servicing, again there are significant differences that prevent one servicing model from being effective in the other arena. An internal combustion engine is an internal combustion engine. If it's a four-stroke it's a suck, squeeze, bang, blow principal and there are common types of components used in engine design; pistons, cranks, valves, cams, etc, so effectively if you've seen one four-stroke internal combustion engine you've seen them all. Same for rotary engines, diesel engines, etc. So while there are variations between manufacturers the basics are the same.

With computer systems that isn't the case. The entire system is integrated in many cases so many repairs require complete component replacements. In a car it would be like having the whole drivetrain as a single unit and if a valve stem seal went you'd have to replace the entire drivetrain. In a car, something with large components making up the drivetrain, that model would be stupid. But with computer systems where everything is integrated on one board that might be 5cm x 7cm in size that model works well.

With Apple the channel through which these parts can be purchased is certainly controlled, but it's a fairly easy process to become accredited - my son is a certified Apple tech and doesn't even work in the industry - and repairs can be carried out in numerous authorised places - at least that's the case in Australia. There is also nothing to stop a company manufacturing after-market upgrades. The RAM upgrades I have in all my Macs were purchased from the same component supplier I purchase my PC components from, as were the standard 500Gb 3.5" SATA drive and 250Gb 2.5" drive I personally installed in one of my iMacs and Mac Mini respectively, using take-apart notes I found on the 'net.

There are a plethora of after-market components and upgrades available for various Apple models and there always has been - one Australian company specialises in touch screen upgrades and they're just as capable of providing it on a Mac as anything else. And there is also nothing other than financial considerations stopping manufacturer's of things like LCD panels, optical drives, etc from making after-market replacement components for Apple devices.

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