SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD 2011 — Apple is perceived as closed and proprietary, but the company has been very generous to the open web, and that generosity has benefited Apple in turn, says pundit John Gruber.
Speaking at Macworld 2011’s opening Industry Forum, Gruber noted that most of the best browsers on the market today are based on Apple’s WebKit, an open source browser engine developed and supported by Apple.
Apple allows its competitors to base their browsers on Apple’s technology, including Google, Nokia and Palm. Indeed, Palm’s entire webOS is based on Apple’s Webkit.
Why does Apple do this?
Because an open web is beneficial to Apple. Ten years ago, most software vendors developed for Windows and Apple was locked out. Napster is a good example, Gruber said. Napster was built for Windows, and Apple users were was largely excluded until third-party Mac clients were build much later.
These days, software companies build for the open Web. Twitter and Facebook, for example, were built for the Web.
“When Windows was the baseline platform for the industry, Apple was left out,” Gruber said. “But these days, if companies develop for the Web, Apple is included.”
This wouldn’t have happened if Apple hadn’t supported and encouraged the web as a development environment, partly by giving Webkit away.
“Apple has benefited tremendously from the rise of the Web,” said Gruber. “And the Web has benefited from contributions from Apple.”