Love it or hate it, the iPad is here to stay. Some fans and techies aren't impressed enough to overlook that the iPad is probably the most restricted computing device to hit the mobile computing market in years. Thanks to the iPad and the forthcoming fourth-generation iPhone operating system, we may be approaching a new renewed era of a controlled Internet.
The iPad and the iPhone are becoming the primary entry ramps to the Internet for millions, usually via installed apps. Now let's be clear, users can easily access the Internet via a web browser but the apps are where Apple and many of its app designers are hoping people with launch it from. And with Apple, the content to which we have access via these applications is approved by Apple and its leader Steve Jobs.
Where have we seen this type of controlled content and controlled web browsing? Anyone remember "Keywords" from AOL?
America Online is best known for its online software suite, also called AOL, that allowed millions of customers around the world to access the world's largest "walled garden" online community and eventually reach out to the internet as a whole. At its zenith, AOL's membership was over 30 million members worldwide, most of whom accessed the AOL service through the AOL software suite.
Many AOL members did not know that they could access the Internet without using a "keyword". AOL has successfully marketed their "keywords" system and could control much of what its member saw online because of their dependence on those "keywords". Even the people that did not use the keyword search box would usually use the AOL Browser which they controlled as well. Many people did not even know how that they could use the Internet Explorer or Netscape browser. For those that wanted to use alternative methods, it was alleged that AOL made it very difficult for them to do so.
In 2000, AOL was served with an $8 billion lawsuit alleging that its AOL 5.0 software caused significant difficulties for users attempting to use third-party Internet service providers. The lawsuit sought damages of up to $1000 for each user that had downloaded the software cited at the time of the lawsuit. AOL later agreed to a settlement of $15 million, without admission of wrongdoing. Now, the AOL software has a feature called AOL Dialer, or AOL Connect on Mac OS X. This feature allows users to connect to the ISP without running the full interface. This allows users to use only the applications they wish to use, especially if they do not favor the AOL Browser. (See information at WikiPedia)
Is Apple "threading in deep water" by heading in this direction? If they control which apps are created, do they then control what information that user can see? With Apple getting into the "in app" search arena with its forthcoming iAds, will this combined with app control start to swim in that some direction that many have broken free of with America Online? We will see in the coming years.
Carl W. Brooks is an entrepreneur that specializes in new technology. Mr. Brooks has been an online publisher since 1999 and has numerous sites and blogs that educate everyday people on how to either use, save money on or make money from the technology around us. He enjoys sharing with the world his unique take on technology and how to use it best in your life.
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