Netgear CEO Patrick Lo puts Steve Jobs and Apple’s closed ecosystem on blast

Tue, Feb 1, 2011


If you’ve never heard of Patrick Lo, don’t worry – neither did we until this morning. As it turns out, Lo is the global chairman and CEO of Netgear, a San Jose-based company that manufacturer routers and a range of other network appliances. So yeah, odds are that you’ve probably seen a Netgear product or two over the past few years.

Anyways, during a recent interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Lo went off on Apple, said Steve Jobs’ ego would be his undoing, and declared that Apple’s strategy of vertical integration would be their undoing.

At a lunch in Sydney today, Patrick Lo said Apple’s success was centred on closed and proprietary products that would soon be overtaken by open platforms like Google’s Android…

Lo said Apple’s closed model only worked because, in many product categories like MP3 players, “they own the market”.

Pure nonsense.

Lo is conveniently switching around cause and effect, here. Apple’s closed model market in the MP3 realm didn’t succeed because they owned the market. On the contrary, Apple owned the market as a direct result of their closed approach.

“Once Steve Jobs goes away,” Lo continued, “which is probably not far away, then Apple will have to make a strategic decision on whether to open up the platform.¬†Ultimately a closed system just can’t go that far … If they continue to close it and let Android continue to creep up then it’s pretty difficult as I see it.”

First, it’s premature to make an declarations as to when Steve Jobs will permanently relinquish CEO duties. Second, Lo’s assumption that the departure of Jobs will force Apple executives to decide if they should open up the platform demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge as to how Apple runs and who Jobs has put in positions of power.

Bolstering his argument against a closed system, Lo pointed to the success of Windows vs. the closed Mac of the late 80’s and 90’s and VHS’s victory over Betamax in the early 80’s. Valid examples, but the success of the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod, and accelerating Mac sales tend to prove otherwise.

“Right now the closed platform has been successful for Apple because they’ve been so far ahead as thought leaders because of Steve Jobs,” Lo explained.

Another fair point, but as we’ve stated before, the Apple of today is a lot larger than Steve Jobs. Moreover, Jobs has instilled his product philosophy into the company and has filled up the executive ranks with folks who buy into Apple’s strategy of controlling the entire widget.

Lo said content providers such as the movie studios were very “wary” of Jobs as the closed model of iTunes meant they were forced to pay a “ransom” to Jobs for selling their content on the service.

“Steve Jobs wants to suffocate the distribution so even though he doesn’t own the content he could basically demand a ransom,” he said.

A fair point, but this is an entire argument unto itself.

Next, Lo took Jobs to task for trying to put the clamps on Adobe Flash, attributing Apple’s actions to Jobs’ ego.

“What’s the reason for him to trash Flash? There’s no reason other than ego.”

Umm, didn’t Jobs write an entire letter outlining Apple’s objections to Flash?

As for whether or not Lo had ever expressed any of his thoughts or concerns to Jobs, Lo stated,¬†“Steve Jobs doesn’t give me a minute!”

Hmm, I wonder why.


1 Comments For This Post

  1. Howie Isaacks Says:

    Netgear’s CEO, can kiss his own arse! I am sick and tired of the criticism over Apple’s “closed” system. Their “closed” system has worked great for me for over 20 years. It’s better than Microsoft’s “closed” system. Maybe Mr. Lo should take a look at the quality of his own products before he pisses on Apple’s. Although Netgear’s enterprise products such as their rack mounted switches are great, their consumer offerings totally suck. Netgear home routers have been on my technology blacklist for sometime now. Their interface is horrible, and their wireless routers are error prone. Just try using one of their wireless routers in bridged mode. It’s not possible.

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