Apple 2010 = Microsoft (Circa) 1997?

News from the New York Times that the Library of Congress is pushing for Apple to unlock the Apple iPhone and allow non-iTunes Store Apps to run on the phone sounds eerily similar to the way Microsoft's Internet Explorer was tightly integrated into Windows. [singlepic id=15 w=150 h=100 float=left]Yes, Apple has the monopoly of a new technology/service/platform. And yes, people despise monopolies. But doesn't a single leader of a new industry help shape the growth of the industry, placing a form of structure around processes and pricing that allows the industry to blossom from niche to ubiquitous?

[singlepic id=14 w=150 h=100 float=right]I remember standing in one of the rooms at the Tech Museum of Innovation when it first opened (I think it's now just called Tech Museum). The room was dedicated to the history of the computer, which included all the fun battles between Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Novell, etc. As I was reading over the details, someone behind me started using the F-bomb as an adjective when talking about all-things-Microsoft.

I thought to myself:

Yeah, let's trash Microsoft and everything they've done. Really, since it's likely the room you are standing in would not exist without all-things-Microsoft.

I didn't say anything aloud, but rather just half-assed chuckled at their responses.

I'm not a Microsoft fanboy, but I do understand and appreciate their importance in the maturity of computer hardware and software today. Like them or not, they helped define where we are today.

And so here we are again, going from a love affair with Apple (I stood in line and grabbed one of the first iPads in NYC) to starting to suggest they have a bit too much power (I don't like my iPhone anymore). Didn't Microsoft go through this phase with its customers?

And didn't we, as customers, all come out just fine in the end?