So Jason Calacanis wrote a newsletter/blog post yesterday about how Apple is becoming big, bad, evil, etc. He had some questions at the end. I emailed him my thoughts, but they probably won’t get published that way. So here they are, in reworked form.

Preliminary Notes

Verizon doesn’t use SIM cards. Neither does Sprint. While I think it’d be awesome to see a dual-radio network-agnostic iPhone (like the Blackberry Storm and some new HTC units) I don’t foresee that happening. As for a dual CDMA radio setup that would “bond” two networks together for fast downloads, not gonna happen. The engineering and billing logistics just don’t work out. The best that’ll realistically happen is either an LTE iPhone (I doubt it’ll come out for WiMAX unfortunately) or *possibly* an iPhone “world phone” with CDMA and GSM/HSPA a la the Blackberry Storm if Verizon gets the new exclusive.

Now that that’s off my, and Mike Rundle’s, chest…

Q: Do you think Apple would be more, or less, successful if they adopted a more open strategy (i.e. allowing other MP3 players in iTunes)?

A: At worst, they’d be just as successful. They might be forced to compete a little more on features, especially on the Mac side (where there’s no Windows Media Player and thus no simple way to sync music with a non-iTunes-supported player). However the influx of people using third-party devices on iTunes would make up for any people who might pick a $30 other-brand MP3 player over Apple’s own. Not like those people would buy an iPod in the first place…

On other fronts, they’d probably indeed be more popular by taking a more open stance on some projects (ahem, iPhone). At least blame the carriers for crippling your device rather than sitting down and letting AT&T pass the buck to you on why Google Voice has to be a (perfectly functional) web app rather than an on-phone application.

Back to the music side of things. I’ve actually owned both an iTunes-compatible non-iPod MP3 player (Creative MuVo Mix, came free with an eMusic subscription, Audible compatible) and an MP3 player (Creative Zen Vision M) and online service (Yahoo Music Unlimited To Go, now Crap…er…Rhapsody) that didn’t work so great on OS X, ostensibly through no fault of Apple’s own. Of course, if Microsoft has clandestinely offered Apple the ability to use PlaysForSure in OS X (I used VMWare + Windows XP to use the software) and Apple refused, the openness ball is back in Apple’s court. Sure, the Zen works in Mass Storage mode in OS X, but the ideal situation is in a Windows/Windows Media Player 10-or-higher environment.

That said, Apple has ported iTunes to Windows. Then again, it was an obvious business move. Who’s going to pay $1000 up front for a computer to use a $200 MP3 player, even if it is the best thing since sliced bread? Apple has shown that they have at least some brains regarding accepted standards in other avenues too; the iPhone supports Exchange now and Snow Leopard will support it when that OS comes out.

Q: Do you think Apple should face serious antitrust action?

A: For the iPod/iTunes semi-lockin, absolutely not. For the long iPhone exclusivity contract (longer than any popular phone I know of) and annoying yearly-on-a-two-year-contract upgrade schedule, yes. While product cycles in the smartphone market are about a year, Apple’s rather slow feature creep is a bit ludicrous, punishing anyone who bought the iPhone 3G by offering a rather minor upgrade halfway through people’s contracts. Granted, people can choose to buy (or not buy) the iPhone, but with the exclusivity contract thrown in, things get even dicier.

My proposition: exclusivity contracts for phones must expire after two years for a given model, or three months prior to that model’s discontinuation, whichever comes first. I won’t go so far as to say that GSM-only phones must be made available on CDMA-only networks and vice versa, but the exclusivity agreement on the iPhone has given AT&T more customers than they know what to do with (or at least more than their engineering department knows how to cope with on the 3G network side of things). Yet AT&T keeps selling iPhones, and the market failure exacerbates itself. With the exclusivity idea I suggested above, the first-gen iPhone would be available on T-Mobile, and the iPhone 3G would be available in a few more months, if not already.

Q: Do you think Appleā€™s dexterity and competence forgive their bad behavior?

A: Nope.

So, what do you think?