Over at the Verizon Policy Blog, Link Hoewing has a sharp piece up entitled, “Of Business Models and Innovation.” He makes a point that I have often stressed in my debates with Zittrain and Lessig, namely, that the whole “open vs. closed” debate is typically greatly overstated or misunderstood. Hoewing correctly argues that:
The point is not that open or managed models are always better or worse. The point is that there is no one “right” model for promoting innovation. There are examples of managed and open business models that have been both good for innovation and bad for it. There are also examples of managed and open models that have both succeeded and failed. The point is in a competitive market to let companies develop business models they believe will serve consumers best and see how things play out.
Exactly right. Moreover, the really important point here is that there exists a diverse spectrum of innovative digital alternatives from which to choose. Along the “open vs. closed” spectrum, the range of digital technologies and business models continues to grow and grow in both directions. Do you want wide-open, tinker-friendly devices, sites, or software? You got it. Do you want a more closed, simple, and safe online experience? You can have that, too. And there are plenty of choices in between.
This is called progress!