That’s a solid bit of criticism, Steve, absolutely; to the extent that Apple throws real roadblocks in the paths of its developers, the value of its platforms diminishes. I wonder, though, about the extent to which such roadblocks have produced the kind of ingenuity that we’re seeing in terms of web apps and the like. I’ve always had the sneaking sense that the relationship between Apple and its developers/hackers was less genuine opposition than strategic opposition of a Cat’s Cradle-ish type, in which the oppressiveness of the ruling body is in some sense meant to spur the opposition on, to produce a kind of balance. (Of course, in the novel, that revelation utterly defangs the opposition, which finally reveals itself to work hand in glove with the oppressions wrought by the ruling body, so this may be a very bad comparison.)

But yes, you’re absolutely right: Apple has always seen its developers as a necessary evil at best; it seems they’d rather produce perfectly working appliances that they utterly control. The result, however, has been some awesomely nice devices that do “just work,” way more than most such devices — as well as a thriving developer base that can’t ever be fully controlled…