In contrast to John Gruber, Ars Technica's John Siracusa has the Apple subscription situation nailed. Apple has gotten big and successful enough that it is now doing things that may give advantage to one of its lines of business while hurting the overall platform and hurting users. And that's just what helped sink Microsoft into its current morass. Siracusa concludes:
This tension between being a platform owner and also trying to build new businesses on that very same platform is another thing that Apple shares with Microsoft. But Microsoft is also a perfect example of how this strategy can seemingly succeed (Windows won the war for the desktop and Microsoft's applications came to dominate the Windows platform) while blinding a company to the long-term failure scenario (a lack of competition allowed Microsoft's products to stagnate, and the next round of innovations happened someplace other than the Windows platform).
Apple's recent App Store changes, however logical and empirically justifiable they may seem, all point strongly to a company that has started to believe that what's good for Apple is good for America. And indeed, this may be the only way to reconcile the inherent conflict of interest. The alternative is philosophically and practically untenable. Apple can try to be a good platform owner and ensure that popular apps like Kindle and Netflix thrive on iOS, and it can also try to advance its own competing services, but both efforts cannot succeed to their fullest potential.
-ArsTechnica, March 2, 2011