Shame on Apple. As a huge Apple supporter, I am shocked and dismayed by today’s news that Apple will be “bricking” – or fatally breaking – iPhones that are either unlocked or contain third party applications with their next update.
Even more shocking is the comment section of this article on tuaw, where Apple fans are actually supporting Apple on this matter!
I can understand entirely Apple’s decision to break unlocked iPhones. Apple probably gets a nice cut of at&t iPhone plans, for one, and they cannot be expected to support your iPhone as you move it to another carrier by changing the very nature of the hardware.
However, by voiding the warranty of those who have installed “Installer.app” and third party applications, they are making a very silly move. For one, Apple is biting the hand that has fed them so many users and in all actuality, market viability. OS X is only truly useful because freeware and shareware development has really ramped up and brought us an amazing array of Mac apps, enough to complement OS X and provide that elusive “Google it and you’ll find an app that does that” level of prevalence. In the meantime, they taut the iPhone as running OS X. So when developers – often the most loyal of fans – extend the functionality of the iPhone the same way they’ve done the desktop version of OS X, they have added value to the iPhone.
Steve Jobs, who runs Apple with an iron fist, is understandably mad about third party apps, but it’s fruitless to spend his tears. Developers have rapidly put many things on the iPhone that should have been there to begin with! Where the heck is iChat? Even Verizon includes AIM compatible apps now! How about a dictionary or games or themes or GPS… all now doable in a few finger taps via Installer? An Apple product ought to provide for users, not work against them. Apple – learn from Google – “don’t be evil!”
Apple missed the boat on the iPhone went Jobs decided to exclude an SDK from the plans. When he told us that “AJAX” was the SDK, I threw up a little in my mouth. Notice my comment from back in January… even then we knew that the lack of an SDK was bullshit.
If Apple decides to truly brick iPhones with third party apps, they are doing a tremendous disservice to all iPhone owners. They are removing capabilities from a device that really ought to have extendable capabilities; well, that or admitting that Windows Mobile or Java platforms are superior. I suspect Jobs is locking it down so he can resell it to us in iPhone generation 2, which is so Microsoft-ian is scares me that maybe Apple is becoming just as evil as Redmond.
An unintended side-effect is that Jobs will birth a new hacking community, one that will certainly rival Apple in what they provide. It may be that all 1st gen iPhone owners decide to stick with 1.0.2 firmware and let hackers extend the functionality, which I glibly believe today will offer more than Apple foolishly will ever allow. To their own peril, I guess. I suspect that Apple’s limp effort to contain iPhone hacking is going to backfire as the people who make a difference forsake them in favor of a community firmware, or maybe just community added functionality.
Frankly, I think the solution is to quickly organize a massive “Do Not Buy Apple Products” day before the new firmware comes out. Maybe October 1. Send a message to Apple that they enjoy success at our pleasure, and that a second rate iPhone experience is not acceptable and not what we’ve come to expect from Apple.
So on October 1, do not run Software Update. Do not buy an iPhone. Do not buy Mac apps at all, including shareware or third party OS X stuff. Let’s piss off Apple, let’s piss off small developers who will have no one to complain to but Apple. Let’s make them open up the iPhone, which has the potential to be great, but may perhaps be, at the very wish of Jobs, destined to remain just a fancy phone.
Update: A few things for those who emailed me —
1) I am a very loyal Apple user, all of the computers in our house are Macs. I do not hate Apple, I do not hate Steve Jobs, I’m just pissed that they are condemning my iPhone to death if I want to actually use the “OS X” on it. Their over-eager rules actually prevent me from doing things I can do on a comparably priced Windows Mobile phone.
2) About the “boycott just shifts the spending to another day” argument – no one is trying to hurt Apple financially, just send them a message: that we won’t stand for the half-assed “SDK” they have provided when hackers have already demo’ed better capabilities the phone inherently possesses, but can’t access due solely to …a EULA?!
3) I am still in love with my iPhone, I just will love it much less if Apple decides to make me restore it, and I’ll love it A LOT less if they destroy it. Oh, and I will NOT replace it. They will simply lose me as a customer on the iPhone. There are some awfully nice Nokia sets out there that allow me to download Java applications like Gmail that really extend the phone as a platform rather than cripple it on purpose, which sounds a lot like Vista and its ridiculous “editions.”