37signals points out Apple’s use of the word ‘integrated’ as opposed to ‘open’ in the ongoing ‘open’ versus ‘closed’ debate (Apple changes words in order to change the debate), and it has important relevance to the open government movement.
Here’s what Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at a recent shareholder meeting:
We think the open versus closed argument is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue, which is, “What’s best for the customer – fragmented versus integrated?” We think Android is very, very fragmented, and becoming more fragmented by the day. And as you know, Apple strives for the integrated model so that the user isn’t forced to be the systems integrator. We see tremendous value at having Apple, rather than our users, be the systems integrator. We think this a huge strength of our approach compared to Google’s: when selling the users who want their devices to just work, we believe that integrated will trump fragmented every time.
…So we are very committed to the integrated approach, no matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as “closed.” And we are confident that it will triumph over Google’s fragmented approach, no matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as “open.”
Government is very fragmented (I’ve discussed this here before) and that’s part of the problem with the open government message. We can create more disparate .gov citizen Websites or mobile applications, but what citizens want at the end of the day is integration.
I’ve said before government needs a Chief Marketing Officer, but what it really needs is a Chief Experience Officer.
Government may not be a business, but it should think more like one when it comes to citizen adoption (satisfaction), especially given a recent study that Americans give low marks to Obama transparency effort at agencies. It’s no surprise Facebook has 500 million users or that Apple’s iPhone is so popular and responsible for a large percentage of mobile app downloads. Both are simple platforms that easily integrate everything we need in our daily lives.
Government would do good to excerpt Jobs and make his statement their own:
When selling the citizens who want their government to just work, we believe that integrated will trump fragmented every time.
When government becomes more integrated, citizens will see it as more open.