Is Apple helping kill the Web?November 19, 2010: 11:18 AM ET
For its 20th anniversary, the man who invented the World Wide Web sounds a warning
Totalitarian governments. Cable monopolies. Magazine smartphone apps. The walled gardens of giant social networking sites. And Apple's (AAPL) iTunes music store.
These are some of the things Tim Berners-Lee, who launched the World Wide Web in December 1990 -- on one of Steve Jobs' NeXT computers, we might add -- cites as threats to its survival.
The Web, he writes in a long Scientific American article posted Friday, was built on principles of openness and egalitarianism and three simple protocols: HTML, HTTP and the URL (which he calls the URI).
Not using these open standards, he warns, creates closed worlds. Like iTunes:
Apple's iTunes system, for example, identifies songs and videos using URIs that are open. But instead of "http:" the addresses begin with "itunes:," which is proprietary. You can access an "itunes:" link only using Apple's proprietary iTunes program. You can't make a link to any information in the iTunes world—a song or information about a band. You can't send that link to someone else to see. You are no longer on the Web. The iTunes world is centralized and walled off. You are trapped in a single store, rather than being on the open marketplace. For all the store's wonderful features, its evolution is limited to what one company thinks up.
Sir Timothy has a point. You can read his full article here.
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]