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Definition: Walled Garden
It is also called closed platform or closed ecosystem. It is a type of software system. In it, the service provider controls all the offerings (applications, media and content) and has the power to authorise and approve access to non-approved applications or content. This is exactly opposite to an open platform, where consumers can access the applications, media and content without any restriction.
It is thus, similar to a gated community that restricts the kind of people that get in by having clearly defined boundary walls on its perimeter and strictly guarded entrances.
Examples of walled gardens in recent times include the Apple ecosystem (iPad, iPod, iPhone, iTunes) and Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. In earlier times, the telecom operators would regulate the services available to a cellphone owner.
In a walled garden, just as unauthorised outsiders cannot get in, the consumers inside cannot get out unless it is through designated entry/exit points.
The entry regulation may be embedded in the hardware itself, as in the case of video game consoles, smart phones and PCs in which secure boot is implemented. This protection is called hardware protection and it is implemented by electronic components. The complementary technology in software is called digital rights management (DRM). It is intended to control the after-sale use of digital content on devices. It uses access control technologies to achieve this protection. It is often used to prevent copyright infringement but is criticised by the open software community as an anti-competitive practice.
On the other hand, open source is a model which assures access to everyone using a free license to the product’s design, the freedom of redistribution and the option to modify or improve the software.