Walled Garden; an attractive environment designed to keep the captive reasonably satisfied, and requiring some cost in escaping from it.
In the computing world, this refers to centralized software systems that heavily moderate access and content. Though there is discussion at large that walled gardens pose huge limitations on openness, hindering innovation in the digital world and act as a direct threat to the democratisation of the internet. Google co-founder Sergey Brin admits that he has ‘never been so worried’ about the future of open internet, with internet freedom being endangered by a ‘combination of governments trying to control access for citizens.’Mega brand Apple has been accused of having such a desire for control, In the world of Apple, such walled gardens offers a relative calm for the consumer amid their own strictly regulated ecosystem of networking. Apple focuses largely on simplifying programs, providing ongoing customer support and a stable user environment largely free of viruses and malicious software. Apples marketing campaigns clearly attempt to diffuse such suggestions that a rigorous screening program for apps leave consumers without something they need, reassuring them constantly that ‘there’s an app for that’. The much touted negatives of walled gardens are clear, limited functionality, locked-in platforms, patenting that hinders creativity, and a widespread fear of control.
Though both sides must be weighed up. Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the internet, is an outspoken supporter of an open internet stated “that the greater ability of small companies to innovate meant it was unlikely that the current web giants would maintain their dominance indefinitely.” Basically, once upon a time, the world was threatened by the closed-system of Netscape. Then Microsoft became the new scary government prototype. Now it’s Apple. In other words, people are not so trapped in their beautiful walled garden to recognise innovation that lies on the other side. iOS, the most innovative system in decades is a prototype of a walled garden. Ultimately, walled gardens have their place. They serve a clear purpose to streamline the chaotic internet world and provide a usable service that has allowed access to the digital world for those who thought it unimaginable. Ironically, walled gardens seem to do more to create access than hinder it.