Apple: “Sideloading is the DEVIL!”

This week, Apple released a “White Paper” (which is code for “propaganda pretending to be research”) entitled “Building a Trusted Ecosystem for Millions of Apps“.

The entire purpose of this “White Paper” is to make the case that “Sideloading” of applications onto an iOS device would bring about the end of life as we know it.

“Allowing sideloading would degrade the security of the iOS platform and expose users to serious security risks not only on third-party app stores, but also on the App Store.”

So… what is “Sideloading”?

Allow me to define it for you:

sideloading (verb) [ sahyd – loh – ding ]

The act of installing software on a real computer.

The term “sideloading” is a pretty new one in this context. Here, Apple uses it to mean “installing software without using Apple’s proprietary, locked down, restrictive, anti-competitive software store”. This is why they use the word “sideloading” and don’t simply call this action what it has always been called… “installing software“.

By giving the normal, expected, reasonable activity of “installing software on the computer you purchased” a new name — “sideloading” — they can begin to demonize the term. To use it to scare you.

“Oh, gosh! Sideloading! That has security problems! People will steal my data! I’ll probably get a virus!”

This is a commonly used strategy when trying to convince people that something (good or benign) which they have always done — or always thought — is actually quite bad. Possibly even — bum bum bum!evil.

Create a new word (or take an existing one), give it the definition of the thing you are trying to discredit, then begin to demonize the new word.

For example, the following simply sounds ridiculous:

“Installing software on the computer you own is dangerous!”

But this…

“Sideloading is dangerous!”

That, if repeated often enough, is a story that can be sold. People can be convinced.

The key for Apple’s success in convincing the public (and lawmakers) that “installing software outside of Apple’s store is bad”… is for news outlets to consistently use the terminology of “sideloading” when talking about the topic, instead of phrases like “installing software”.

This is key: The more articles, blogs, tweets and videos use the term “sideloading” when talking about whether or not “installing software” is “dangerous”… the more people will begin to equate “sideloading” with “dangerous”.

And the more people that make that mental connection… the more likely it will be that companies (like Apple) will be able to lock down systems ever further. Quickly turning computers into devices that we all have decreasing amounts of freedoms on (freedom to repair, freedom to install).

It is critically important that people be reminded what “sideloading” actually is: The ability to install the software you want, the way you want, on the computer you own.

Bryan Lunduke

Former Deputy Editor for Linux Journal magazine. Former Technology Journalist for Network World. Former VP of Technology. Former Linux Marketing Director. Former Dishwasher.