Tim Wu, writing for The New Yorker “News Desk”, has done us all a grand favor by penning a sort of grand unified theory on how the “open beats closed” axiom can be true in the face of Apple’s decade-long success: “像苹果这样的公司需要像史蒂夫·乔布斯那样的天才吗?” Wu’s conclusion: yes, Apple is falling back to earth sans Jobs, and the normalcy of open beating closed will return any moment now让我们考虑他的论点。


The old tech adage is that “open beats closed.” In other words, open technological systems, or those that allow interoperability, always beat their closed competitorsThis is an article of faith for certain engineersIt’s also the lesson from Windows’ defeat of the Apple Macintosh in the nineteen-nineties, Google’s triumph in the early aughts, and, more broadly, the success of the Internet over its closed rivals (remember AOL?)但它仍然是真的吗?

请允许我首先提出一个替代经验法则,以便在任何市场中取得商业成功:更好,更早,往往会更糟糕,甚至更晚也就是说,成功的产品和服务往往是那些质量上乘并且更快上市的产品和服务(考虑到微软在智能手机市场上的艰辛:旧的Windows Mobile(néeWindowsCE)在iPhone和Android之前几年上市,但它很糟糕Windows Phone is by all accounts a technically solid, well-designed system, but by the time it arrived the iPhone and Android were entrenched market leaders — it was too late.) You don’t have to be best or first, but the winners are likely to be those which fare well in both regards.

There is nothing profound or insightful (或原创) about this theory; it is simply common senseMy point though, is that open-vs.-closed has very little to do with commercial success, in and of itself开放没有魔力。


Windows的击败苹果麦金塔电脑的暂露头角“ - Wintel的双头垄断肯定会在90年代吃Mac的午餐,但这恰好与Mac的质量优势最低点相吻合PCs were beige boxes; Macintoshes were slightly better-looking beige boxesWindows 95 was vastly improved over Windows 3; the classic Mac OS had barely evolved in a decade, whilst Apple squandered its efforts on pie-in-the-sky next-generation systems that never saw the light of day — Taligent, Pink, CoplandWindows 95甚至不是从Mac借用视觉提示,而是从当时最好看的操作系统中借用视觉提示,下一步


Mac在80年代关闭并蓬勃发展,就像Apple今天所做的那样:拥有不错的少数市场份额,以及非常健康的利润空间它开始受到影响 - 无论是在急剧减少的市场份额和无利可图的情况下 - 仅在90年代中期在这一点上,Mac已经变得不再封闭,但在技术上和美学上已停滞不前然后是Windows 95,它改变了闭合/开放方程而不是一点,但它显着缩小了与Mac的设计质量差距Windows茁壮成长,Mac枯萎了,它与开放性无关,与工程和设计质量有关Windows已经好多了,Mac还没有。

Even more telling, and more damning to Wu’s use of this as a case study, is that soon after Windows 95, Apple radically opened up the Mac OS, in a use of the word “open” that Wu expressly states is what he means by the term: they licensed the OS to other PC makers生产Mac克隆这是最开放的决定 - 在吴的意义上开放- 在Apple Computer Inc.的整个历史中


Mac OS整个个人电脑市场的份额依然停滞不前,但苹果Mac电脑硬件销售的份额,特别是利润丰厚的高端机型,直线下降。

When Jobs and his team from NeXT took control of Apple, they shredded the licensing program, returned the company to its integrated control-the-whole-experience roots, and got to work on one thing: designing better — but absolutely closed — hardware and software有效。

谷歌在早期的胜利中取得了胜利“ - 这个吴肯定意味着谷歌网络搜索What exactly is or ever was more “open” about Google’s web search than any of its competitors, then or now? Everything about it is closed: the source code, the ranking algorithms, even the setup and locations of Google’s vaunted data centers are famously kept secret谷歌开始主导搜索有一个原因:它提供了一个非常优越的产品它更快,更准确,更聪明,视觉上更不凌乱。

互联网的成功对其封闭的竞争对手(还记得美国在线吗?)“ - 吴在这里几乎是有道理的互联网确实是一种开放的胜利开放的胜利但AOL并没有真正与“互联网”竞争AOL是一项服务互联网是一个全球性的公共系统你仍然需要一个服务连接到互联网AOL失去了互联网而不是有线和DSL供应商AOL是垃圾 - 写得很糟糕,设计糟糕的软件,通过令人震惊的慢速和挑剔的拨号调制解调器将你连接到互联网。

The adage has been seriously questioned over the last few years, primarily because of one firmApple, ignoring the ideals of engineers and the preaching of tech pundits, steadfastly stuck to a semi-closed strategy — or an “integrated” one, as it likes to say — and defied the rule.

The “rule” has been seriously questioned all along by some of us, because it’s horseshit; not that the opposite is true (that closed tends to beat open), but rather, that open-vs.-closed carries no special weight in determining success as a general ruleApple is not an exception to the rule; rather, it is a perfect example that the rule is nonsense.

But now, over the last six months, in ways little and large, Apple has begun to stumbleAccuse me of overreading, but I propose a revision of the old adage: closed can beat open, but you have to be geniusUnder normal conditions, in an unpredictable industry, and given regular levels of human error, open still beats closed. Stated a different way, a firm gets to be closed in exact proportion to its vision and design talent.

Would not a simpler theory be that companies with visionary leaders and talented designers (or employees in general) tend to succeed? What Wu is arguing here is that “closed” companies are somehow more in need of vision and talent than “open” ones, which is folly(打开标准肯定比封闭的更容易成功,但这不是吴在这里争论的他在谈论公司及其成功。)

To explain, I need to first be careful about what I mean by “open” and “closed,” words that are widely used in the tech industry, but with various meaningsThe truth is that no company is completely open or completely closed; they exist on a spectrum, somewhat like the one that Alfred Kinsey used to describe human sexualityHere, I mean it as the combination of three things.

First, “open” and “closed” can refer to how permissive a tech firm is, with respect to who can partner with or interconnect with its products to reach consumersWe say an operating system like Linux is “open” because anyone can design a device that runs LinuxIn contrast, Apple is very selective: it would never license iOS to run on a Samsung phone, or sell the Kindle in an Apple store.

不,他们可能不会在Apple Store中销售Kindle硬件,而不是销售三星手机或戴尔电脑戴尔或三星也不销售苹果产品但Apple确实在App Store中安装了Kindle应用程序。

Second, openness can describe how impartially a tech company treats other firms in comparison to how it treats itselfFirefox, the browser, treats most Web sites about the sameApple, in contrast, always treats itself better(Try removing iTunes from your iPhone.)

这就是吴的第二个“开放”含义 - 网络浏览器和操作系统之间的比较但是苹果有自己的web浏览器,Safari,,就像Firefox一样,把所有的网站一样Mozilla现在拥有自己的移动操作系统,我敢打赌,至少有一些你无法删除的应用程序。

Third, and finally, it describes how open, or transparent, the company is about how its products work, and how to work with themOpen-source products, or those that rely on open standards, make their source code available widely. Meanwhile, a firm like Google might be open in many respects, but it guards things like its search-engine code very carefullyIn tech, the standard metaphor to describe this last difference is that of a cathedral versus a bazaar.

吴甚至承认,谷歌的皇冠珠宝 - 它的搜索引擎和令人惊叹的数据中心为它提供支持 - 与Apple的软件一样多,并没有提到Apple在开源项目上的领导地位。WebKit的LLVM

Even Apple needs to be open enough not to annoy consumers too muchYou can’t run Adobe’s Flash on an iPad, but you can plug nearly any kind of earphones into it.

Flash? What year is it? You can’t run Flash on Amazon’s Kindle tablets, or Google’s Nexus tablets and phone either.

“开放节拍关闭”的想法是一个新的想法For most of the twentieth century, integration was widely believed to be the superior form of business organization[...]

The conventional wisdom began to change in the nineteen-seventies. In technology markets, from the eighties through the mid-aughts, open systems repeatedly defeated their closed competitors. Microsoft Windows defeated its rivals by being more open: unlike Apple’s operating system, which was technically superior, Windows ran on any hardware, and ran nearly any software.

再一次,Mac没有被击败,并且,看着PC行业数十年的历史,证据表明开放性与成功无关,特别是Mac,如果有的话,它证明了相反的情况Mac的过山车轨迹 - 在80年代上升,在90年代下降,在00年代上升,持续到今天 - 完全符合Apple的硬件和软件的竞争质量,而不是它的开放性Mac在关闭时成功最多,至少在开放时取得成功。

At the same time, Microsoft also defeated a vertically integrated I.B.M(记得Warp O.S.?)

我这样做,但显然吴没有,因为它被称为“OS / 2经”。

If openness is the key to Windows’s success, whither Linux on the desktop? Linux is truly open by anyone’s definition of the word, far more open than Windows could ever be作为一个桌面操作系统,它几乎是一个完全无用的东西,它在质量上从来没有那么好。

然而,在服务器上,Linux一直被广泛认为技术上非常出色 - 快速和可靠 - 它取得了巨大的成功如果开放是关键,Linux应该在各地成功它没有作为服务器系统,它只在成功的地方取得了成功。

Google was boldly open in its original design, and sailed past the selective pay-for-placement design of Yahoo.

将谷歌第一代搜索引擎的掏空描述为与“开放性”有任何关系是荒谬的谷歌搜索更好 - 不仅仅是更好一点,而是更好,比如好10倍 - 在每一个方面:准确性,速度,清晰度,甚至视觉设计。


Most of the winner firms in the eighties to the aughts, like Microsoft, Dell, Palm, Google, and Netscape, were openAnd the Internet itself, a government-funded project, was both incredibly open and incredibly successfulA movement was born, and with it the rule that “open beats closed.”

微软:不是真的开放,他们只是许可他们的操作系统 - 不是免费的,而是因为,对于任何支付的公司来说,钱。

Dell: Open how? Dell’s peak success had nothing to do with openness and everything to do with having figured out ways to produce commodity PCs cheaper and quicker than its competitors当便宜的快速生产本身成为商品时,随着中国制造和装配外包的兴起,戴尔的优势逐渐消失,其相关性也随之降低而且,这并不是持续成功的光辉榜样。

Palm: More open than Apple how? And, uh, out of business.

网景:他们建立真正开放的web浏览器和服务器,但他们的软件被关闭什么使他们在浏览器市场是一个双重攻击微软:(1)微软做了一个更好的浏览器,和(2)在一个完全关闭(并且最终被认为是非法的)时尚,他们使用他们对封闭的Windows操作系统的控制来捆绑和支持IE而不是Netscape Navigator。

The triumph of open systems revealed a major defect in closed designs.


这让我们感到非常高兴,而苹果公司的表现非常出色For about twelve years, Apple successfully beat the ruleBut that’s because it had the best of all possible systems; namely, a dictator with absolute control who was also a geniusSteve Jobs was the corporate version of Plato’s ideal: the philosopher-king more effective than any democracyThe firm was dependent on one centralized mind, but he made very few mistakesIn a world without errors, closed beats openConsequently, for a while, Apple bested its rivals.

吴邦国委员长的整个主题是向后的方法他没有评估事实并得出关于开放对商业成功的重要性的结论,而是开始对公理的信念,并试图按摩事实以适应教条因此,吴认为,苹果的成功在过去的15年里不置疑的证据“开放节奏封闭”公理是假的,而是是史蒂夫•乔布斯(Steve Jobs)的结果在拥有奇异能力战胜了开放的力量他和他一个人可以在水上行走。

吴在他的文章中提到了“iPod”一词,而“iTunes”只提到过一次 - 在上面引用的关于无法从iPhone中删除iTunes应用程序的部分这些方便遗漏一块称“开放节奏关闭”这些都是典型的例子表明成功的其他因素更重要——更好的胜差,综合胜支离破碎,简单比复杂。1


来自The New Yorker的Vapid图表,表面上显示了Apple,亚马逊,谷歌和微软之间的开放性和市值之间的相关性。

市值随着时间的推移,目前为止一切都很顺利But the colors? Nick Traverse explains:

The infographic here shows the market capitalization of four big technology companies since 2006 — Amazon, Apple, Google, and MicrosoftWu developed a metric for assessing the “openness” of companies, scored on three factors: interoperability, integration, and transparencyWith 1 being closed, and 10 being open, here’s how they rank:




Wu’s theory is that open should generally do better than closed, unless the closed company is run by a geniusAnd though this is just a smattering of data, the chart seems to bear the theory out. The stock prices of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon more or less correlate to their openness scoresApple, the most closed of the four, does the best — until about a year after Steve Jobs dies. Since then, it has plummeted.

The stock values over time are data; the openness scores are nonsense, a metric Tim Wu pulled out of his assBut even if we accept everything in this chart as Wu and The New Yorker intend — that Wu’s openness scores are meaningful and accurate, and that stock price is a reliable measure of a company’s success — this graphic does not show any sort of correlation between openness and success, nor, even, that Apple is suffering without Steve Jobs.

Traverse是正确的,最近几个月Apple的股价下跌了约30%,这是在乔布斯去世后大约一年开始的But he neglects to mention that in the year after his death, the stock price rose so high that, despite the recent drop, it remains up, significantly, from the date of Jobs’s death.

According to Wu, Apple’s stock should continue to slide; only time will tell if he’s rightBut what of the other four companies he chose? Microsoft’s score of 5.0 is the lowest of the three and indeed its stock performance since 2006 (the beginning of the graphic) is the worst — pretty much completely flat但谷歌的5.7是亚马逊6.3和微软5.0之间的一半,但他们的股票价格仅比微软稍微好一点除亚马逊外,这些公司的股票价格都没有显示与吴分配给他们的开放度分数有任何相关性But how in the world did Amazon get a higher “openness” score than Google? Google released Android as an actual open source project; Amazon took Android and created their own closed source branch for the Kindle FireKindle电子阅读器与iPod一样封闭Transparency? Apple releases sales numbers for all of its product categories, each and every quarterApple发布了有关从App Store下载了多少应用程序的数量,它向开发者支付了多少钱,他们通过iTunes销售了多少首歌曲,以及通过iBooks下载了多少本书亚马逊永远不会发布任何东西的销售数字 - 不是针对Kindle,不针对应用,不是只是溴化物关于出售“最有史以来”,或超过上一季度的此类百分比很难想象为什么亚马逊的得分比谷歌以外,他们的股票更开放近年来做得更好,吴分数分配给适合的叙述。

更不用说如果吴选择盈利而不是股票价格作为企业成功的指标,那么图表就会显示出来相反开放和成功之间的相关性:苹果,微软第二,第三,谷歌和亚马逊一个遥远的第四个在接近于零的水平(我并不是说这比吴对股票价格的使用更没有荒谬For one thing, Amazon seemingly turns little-to-no profit故意但这并不比吴的股票价格更有效,特别是在比较该集团的三家公司时追求盈利。)



In the end, the better your vision and design skills, the more closed you can try to beIf you think your product designers can duplicate the nearly error-free performance of Jobs over the past twelve years, go for itBut if mere mortals run your firm, or if you’re facing an extremely unpredictable future, the economics of error suggest an open system is saferMaybe rely on this test: wake up, look in the mirror, and ask yourself, Am I Steve Jobs?


这就是人们对苹果的困扰每个人都使用Windows,为什么苹果不能满足于此做时尚的Windows机器? Smartphones所需的硬件键盘可拆卸电池; why did Apple make theirs with neither? Everyone knew you需要Flash Player才能获得“完整的网络体验”,为什么选择Apple算了吧? 16 years after the ad campaign, “Think Different” has proven itself to be more than glib marketing这是一个简单,严肃的座右铭,是公司的指路明灯。


Who is Apple to decide which apps are in the App Store? That no phone will have a hardware keyboard or removable battery? That modern devices are better off without Flash Player and Java?


  1. 也没有提及Apple在iTunes Store中消除DRM音乐的领导地位— a stance surely more open than closed. ↩︎