MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Posts Tagged ‘AT&T

iPhone update raises hackles

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Last week I touched on the controversy caused by the iPhone’s recent firmware update. Now Macworld journalist Chris Breen has construed this as evidence that Apple has somehow lost its way, or as he puts it “is on the wrong path”. He cites a whole range of issues to support his theory, from the iPhone’s recessed headphone to dull-coloured folders in Apple’s upcoming 10.5 Mac Operating System, codenamed Leopard.

He makes some valid points. Charging their clients twice for the privilege of putting ringtones based on songs that they have already bought is daylight robbery. (Though to be fair other service providers charge even more.) It is also a little rich of Apple to expect clients to replace their iPod accessories when upgrading to the new models.

However his argument falls down on several fronts.

First of all his contention that Apple were either negligent in releasing the firmware update or, worse, maliciously “bricked” iPhones hacked to operate on non-AT&T networks is flawed. The fact of the matter is that Apple had no obligation to protect the hacker’s interests as the latter were in contravention of the EULA (end-user license agreement) that they entered into when buying the phone. Despite this Apple did provide a warning that hacked phones could be disabled by the update. Surely then if the owner of a hacked iPhone goes and runs the update he or she has no right to complain about the consequences? Ultimately Apple is responsible for protecting the interests of itself and its business partner AT&T against the small minority of customers who have put their own necks on the block by hacking their phones.

As I pointed out in my earlier post though, disabling third-party applications is more contentious. There is no clear threat to Apple’s or AT&T’s interests here (unless you count instant messaging applications, which may reduce text messaging revenues). Still, I don’t believe that Chris fully appreciates Apple’s dilemma here. If it altered the update (assuming that this was possible given the usual resource and time constraints) to somehow accommodate the applications, Apple would thereby be tacitly endorsing them. This would fly in the face of its decision not to allow third-party development of native applications, at least for now.

Secondly, Apple has been criticised about its hardware designs many times in the past. Two examples that spring to mind are the decisions to discontinue floppy disk drives and later built-in dial-up modems in the Mac. Compared to this the iPhone’s recessed jack is small beer (although audiophiles may disagree); in any event it hardly represents a new departure for Apple.

Chris’s other complaints hinge largely on his own personal tastes. For instance he dislikes the new Apple keyboard but his opinion is by no means universal as the keyboard has received a lot of praise from other quarters.

It is a given that no company is going to please all its customers all of the time. While not all of Apple’s decisions will necessarily sit well with every one of its customers, I believe that it gets it right at least most of the time and I certainly don’t agree that it is on the wrong path.

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iPhone update

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iphone.jpgOn Thursday Apple released a software update for the iPhone. Not surprisingly this disabled iPhones that had been hacked to use with non-AT&T SIM cards. It also disabled hacks used to install third-party applications. (Currently Apple does not officially allow third-party development of native applications for the iPhone.) Preventing the use of non-AT&T SIM cards is an understandable move on Apple’s part; it needs to protect the interests of its partner, especially considering that it takes a cut of AT&T’s iPhone revenue. Disabling the other hacks is more controversial though. Some regard the lack of native iPhone applications as a big minus and at some point I think Apple will have to officially endorse development of these. It would certainly be preferable to the current free-for-all.

Written by macinjay

September 29, 2007 at 3:42 am

Posted in Apple Mac

Tagged with , ,