I will add my two cents to the Dashboard – Konfabulator controversy.

First, let’s set the stage. Steve Jobs announced and previewed the next major release of Mac OS X codenamed http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/ last week at the Apple Developers Conference. A typical Steve Jobs keynote where this consumate salesman wowed the audience with all kinds of nifty new technology. This new OS was of course compared to the upcoming Longhorn, long overdue, from Microsoft and, in the traditional Mac – Windows rivalry spirit, banners were hung proclaiming « Redmond, start your photocopiers ».

A controversy quickly arose though. One element he presented was Dashboard , a java runtime environment for tiny applications named widgets that run embedded in or floating over the desktop (examples : a clock, a battery meter, airport signal strength, weather reports, stock quotes etc…). The problem : this concept already exists as a freeware named Konfabulator and Apple apparently simply went out and copied it. Apple has already done this several times in the past and the result has often been for the better because Apple has more muscle to develop and promote technology. There has never really been any controversy about this because Apple usually bought the technology or the company that created it. This time they didn’t…

My opinion is that Apple can’t claim some kind of moral high ground versus Microsoft if they do the same to their own developers. Apple should in fact treat these people with great care and empathy as they have so little marketshare that it’s usually a labor of love more than common sense to develop software for the Mac platform. Apple has a huge pile of cash stashed away and should use it in this type of circumstances.

So please, Apple, even if you did develop this stuff internally, it looks too much like Konfabulator for you not to compensate them…. It’s only fair. It lets you keep face. It gives an incentive to all the other developers out there to come out with new and great ideas for the Mac.

Lastly, lest you wonder if all of this is worth the time you spent reading this article, let me just say that I love Konfabulator and that I highly recommend it 😉