« Security through Ubiquity | Main | Budapest »


I've been a Mac user for years, and (generally) happily so. I'm not an Apple fanboy, but I do appreciate the combination of good hardware and software design found in Macs. When the iPhone came out, some people I knew assumed that I'd get one for myself -- and I admit, I was tempted. But ultimately I chose not to, and I'm glad I did.

My initial reason for not getting an iPhone concerned the carrier. AT&T is hardly a bastion of respect for privacy and civil rights, and I had no desire to give them any more money than I have to. The various sim-card unlocks would render that moot, except...

Anyone who thought that Apple -- with an iPhone business model that gets a huge chunk of the subscription fees from its carrier partners -- wouldn't re-lock the iPhone wasn't paying attention. And once the iPod Touch came out with an as-yet-unbreakable lockdown for applications, the writing was on the wall for the various third-party apps that clever hackers had figured out how to install on the iPhone. In short, the period in which the iPhone was relatively free and open (if not by Apple's doing) was always likely to be brief, and may never be repeated.

I'm utterly disgusted with the wireless telecom business models that actively prevent customers from actually making use of the technologies built into the hardware. Some will disable useful features, only to re-enable them at a fee; some simply disallow the use of given capabilities altogether. By barring the installation of any outside iPhone applications, Apple is actually among the most-offensive vendors in this regard. Claims that "most people" wouldn't ever use the ability to add applications are irrelevant, and likely wrong: one of the distinctly appealing aspects of the iPhone technology was its potential to shift the mobile phone world away from appliances and towards platforms -- i.e., to a world in which people think of their phones as they do their computers, as devices that can always be made to do more.

The alternatives are limited, but intriguing.

My next phone is very likely going to be a Linux-based OpenMoko Neo1973 phase 2, due out in December. A completely-open platform, the OpenMoko operates on the global GSM standard, and includes WiFi. It's not a perfect device -- no camera and no 3G make it definitely sub-optimal -- but it's a project I want to give my whole-hearted support.

In the longer-term, if Google wins the 700MHz auction and goes ahead with its plans for a open-hardware model for the spectrum, the wireless companies may find themselves in a real scramble. And Sprint's plans for WiMax actually appear to be relatively openness-friendly: among the first devices to take advantage of the high-speed wireless system will be a version of the Nokia N800, a Linux-based internet tablet with voice-over-IP capabilities.

It may well be that the next couple of years will be the last stand of the overly-locked down, paranoid and arguably corrupt wireless networks. It's too bad that Apple has chosen to stand with them instead of with the future.


I think you already know that I pretty much hold the same opinion of the iPhone. You couldn't actually pay me to use one, which considering how much of a mac fanboy I am is a bit sad. As a product, it's just shit.

Thankfully O2 picked it up in the UK, so we don't have to carry the fucking dog.

You are so right about this!

Apple now starts selling its iPhone in european countries with the same restriction as in America: Only one carrier in each country.

But what about Google: Don't they have plans for a mobile phone on their own? So let's wait and see wether they will come up with another walled garden or not...


Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered By MovableType 4.37