Blog Post

Peer-to-Peer, Corporate Style

Ted Striphas, author of the fantastic book The Late Age of Print (Columbia University Press, 2009), posted a while back on Differences & Repetitions about a new Apple patent application found by Patently Apple (who devised the graphic above depicting the process):

In a nutshell, it would allow iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac apps (coming in 2011) to be downloaded not only from Apples proprietary servers, but also directly from devices belonging to ones peers.

A cool idea, certainly. But, like Striphas, I have some reservations. Striphas notes:

If Apple follows through on this patent application and theres no guaranteeing that it will then it could fundamentally alter how we understand and go about transacting for digital goods.  In addition to a fixed, centralized point of point-of-sale, there would now be millions of decentralized, mobile points-of-sale. The other odd bit here, which no one seems to be commenting on, is this: under the proposed system, people would be paying Apple hundreds, even thousands of dollars for its hardware, which would in turn allow them to buy into the companys mobile app sales force.  Thats right you get to pay for the privilege of working for Apple Computer!

I am particularly struck by the way in which such a system takes advantage of the more collapsible, permeable borders between information and products in the digital realm. Techniques and devices initially designed and used to exchange information (text messages, phone calls, emails, etc.) between people would now be used to exchange corporate productswith, presumably/ingeniously/dishearteningly, the same ooh-cool-connectivity! meets populist-technocratic aura about the new market mechanism that seems to attach itself to anything seemingly cloudsourced.

[re-posted from my other blog, bookmobility, about information in motion]

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