The Secret Garden

Most people never realise how much of their time was spent inside a walled garden. Whether it’s playing games on a PlayStation or browsing social media on an iPhone the service provider (Sony, Apple and Facebook in this case) has control over applications, content, and media, and restricts convenient access to non-approved applications or content.

Walled gardens can have several advantages. They can improve user security and lower the costs of getting information, and they encourage firms to innovate by allowing them to keep more of the profits from innovation. Note, however, that walled gardens have downsides. In particular, they can affect the ease with which other companies can entice people – and, in the case of the cloud, people’s data — to move outside of the garden. – Apple’s iCloud and the Dilemma of the Walled Garden by Robert Hahn and Peter Passell

The best example of a walled garden is Apple’s iOS. Most users of the platform will tell you how easy to use it is and how things just work. This is because of the walled garden. While Apple restricts your choice of apps to what is allowed on the app store and customization is very limited this are not thing valued by your average user. The average user values the ease of use and overall smoothness of the Apple iOS.

The main downside to Apple’s technique is that their native apps such as Safari will always outperform their 3rd party competitors on Apple hardware. Apparently Apple can’t allow 3rd party apps to access these lower level functions while still ensuring the stability of the device itself. So while most 3rd party alternatives will have more features they will never perform as well as the native apps. This really hurts developers by denying them access to these functions essentially limits what they can do and detering users from straying from the native software.

As the mobile app market continues to mature it will strain against its walled garden confines more and more. Increasingly such hand-holding is less necessary and more and more restrictive. Apple has a choice to recognize that the market is changing and to adapt or to ignore the changes and pretend as though it’s still 2008 while the world passes them by. –

Walled gardens make sense when they are initially implemented. They give users a simple curated experience to learn the platform, but eventually users out grow them and are left wanting more.


2 thoughts on “The Secret Garden

  1. Interesting post – made me wonder about a company’s rationale in establishing a walled garden. Sure there are economic benefits for Apple but there are also economic benefits for Samsung in selling generative devices. So while the market is competitive should we worry about Apple and its walled garden or let the market decide? I think some of the sales figures might answer this question.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Insightful post on the concept of walled gardens. When technology is moving so fast these days we almost become oblivious to our time spent on their platforms. We simply pledge a sort of allegiance to their company and become unaware of how restricted we are within their walls which ultimately profits them and grows their consumer market.

    Liked by 1 person

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