Tuesday, September 02, 2008

iPhone - 5 or 6 reasons to consider from an actual owner

On Tue, Sep 2, 2008, to my 20-something son who is an early iPhone adopter, I wrote:
What would you say?

His reply:

1. iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can't be on everyone's phones.
To a degree this one is true. To make software for the iPhone and release it through the App Store, you need to buy the $100 SDK for the iPhone. After you make the app, then you have to submit it for approval from apple, then its put into the store. So for most people they just list their app for $0.99. As far as I can tell, they are fairly lax about what they let get into the store, basically it just has to not brick your phone or steal your data.

2. iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.
You aren't forced to use DRM only files. You can download anything you want then convert it to an appropriate format and put it on your phone. This one is pretty much a non-issue.

3. iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.
Only if you are stupid and get apps that let people do that... Every single application has to get your permission to use the GPS. And if you're talking about at&t knowing where you are or whatnot, they can do that very near as accurately with any cell phone, based on signal strength and looking up which tower you're using.

4.iPhone won't play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.
This is true, it won't. But it also takes almost no effort to convert them to something it does play. This will be true of nearly any device... They can't support every format, so you make it support most of the common ones, which the iPhone does.

5. iPhone is not the only option. There are better alternatives on the horizon that respect your freedom, don't spy on you, play free media formats, and let you use free software — like the FreeRunner.
Whoever wrote this article just doesn't get it. Just because something does similar things, doesn't make it competitive. The iPhone has one of the most intuitive interfaces I have ever seen. Also, even if it could compete with the interface, it still just wouldn't be an iPhone. This thing they are suggesting is going to be the equivalent of the Zune mp3 player.

6. Its way over priced for something that WILL break in your pocket (OK, I added the last one)
I have yet to break a single phone I have owned. Maybe the author should take better care of his expensive things?

Its all pretty silly to me. What if it didn't support DRM? People that bought DRM content wouldn't be able to play it, that's what. It has to support DRM, but it doesn't restrict you to DRM content. As far as the App Store goes, there are literally hundreds of completely free apps, and hundreds more that are only $0.99. As I see it, there are a few minor issues with the phone/app store, but certainly no reasons to avoid it. If you read the original authors whole post ( http://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/5-reasons-to-avoid-iPhone-3g ) it is more than a little preachy.

We were traveling together a couple of weeks ago, so I got to see his iPhone first hand, use it myself and benefit from its many features. The price isn't out of line for the service with remarkable voice AND data coverage. We were able to use the iPhone in lots of places where my cell phone charges would have been high and wireless internet access was not available. It is certainly a new and different way of reaching out and touching the world.

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