"Shut her down Clancy, she's blowin' mud!"
That's something I heard as a way of saying that an oil well was all tapped out. Alas, there are few things in life that are all tapped out, but one of them should be the screaming about the Apple 1.1.1 update. I get people are pissed. I get people want total control over ever damned doo-dad they own. However, the screaming on this issue is getting stupid, to where I'm of the opinion: "Just take the fucking thing back, eat the restock fee and get the fucking Blackberry you obviously wanted in the first place, and some fucking iPhone skin. Get a Windows Mobile device, get a fucking Treo, but for the love of god, stop whining."
Were you to listen to it, you'd swear that Apple had personally gone into their houses, and violated their dogs.
One of the longer, better written screeds on this is by Rob Griffiths in Macworld. I think Rob's wrong all over the place, and I'll guess he's never had to do either developer or large-scale user support, but at least he can put together a proper English sentence on a consistent basis. That doesn't make him right, but it's easier to read such things when they are well-written.
However, as you’ve also read by now, the update did a few other things. First, as Apple had warned, it turned unlocked iPhones into expensive paperweights, rendering them useless. (A Macworld staffer who unlocked his phone so that we could document this procedure, had this happen to his iPhones.) Second, if you had a modified iPhone that ran third-party applications, like I had, the update removed those apps. So much for my plea to Apple. Finally, if you used Ambrosia’s iToner, or any other such ringtone utility, you discovered that all your custom ringtones were also gone."So much for my plea to Apple". I think that right there is a central point in this. Rob wanted something very badly and didn't get it. He's so very mad about this that he ignores a few things. First, in what universe did he think that Apple would, considering the deal with AT&T, not ruthlessly undo unlocking procedures, or at the very least, invalidate that device? (Spare me any ranting about AT&T being so evil you have to do it. Bullshit, because for that argument to have any validity, there would have to be some cellular provider that wasn't a festering pool of greed and corruption. Since there is not, stop acting like AT&T is that special. They aren't. All cell providers suck. Arguing which one sucks worse is like arguing about which hurts more, getting stabbed in the eye with a dull ice pick or a rusty nail. Furthermore, all my dealings with AT&T have been at worst, professional, but I've had several potentially sticky problems handled in a very nice manner for all concerned, with nary a bad attitude to be found. Just like Sprint. Hmm...) Apple and AT&T have a contract, one, I'll guess, which has very specific requirements for both parties. For Apple to know about ways to unlock the phone from AT&T and not do anything about it could be seen as tacit approval. That would be bad for Apple, but very good for AT&T, or at least AT&T's lawyers. Or Apple could just be acting like a bunch of dicks. However, I've learned that if you have two choices for stupid maliciousness, and one option is a cell provider, go with the cell provider first. Do I think it's a great strategy? No. But then, I know Apple doesn't give a fuck what I think, and I'm fine with that. I bought the iPhone with full understanding of its limitations, and don't see how whining that those limitations are really real is any better than people moving next to an existing airport and discovering that, OMGWTFKHAAAAAN!...airplanes are loud.
Rob also leaves out that a lot of the changes that broke iToner and the like have to do with application signing. I won't go into that whole deal, because it's equal parts good idea and stupid, but will suffice it to say that unlike a general purpose computer, which the iPhone is not, an embedded device, which the iPhone is, is a good place for application signing. Do I miss my iToner ringtones? Sure, but come on, it's a picayune thing to whine about on this scale.
Unlike most Apple software updates, I held off on running this one until there were some field reports about exactly what happened. Once those reports started trickling in, I came to a painful but obvious conclusion: I will never install the 1.1.1 update on my iPhone."BUT THEY CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY...OUR...FREEDOM!!!!!" Spare me the histrionics and drama. "Unlike most Apple updates". Please. Rob, if you blindly run every update Apple releases as soon as it comes out, you have far more problems than the iPhone 1.1.1 update. But I don't actually believe you do that.
I’ve chosen not to upgrade because I value the productivity, entertainment, and customization abilities offered by the third-party applications I’ve added to my iPhone. I don’t want those abilities to go away just to earn the “right” to send Apple more money via the new Wi-Fi Music Store. No thanks; my iPhone will stay at version 1.0.2 for quite a while, it seems."I bought the iPhone knowing that it really didn't meet my needs, and so relied on unsupported hacks to make it usable. With that in mind, I shall never update my phone again, because potential security flaws are far outweighed by Tetris." <eyeroll>
Now, if some brilliant individual or team of individuals figures out how to work around the locks that Apple has put in place on the iPhone and again enables third-party apps, I will then upgrade my phone—I want the new features, but not badly enough to give up what I’ve already got."I've spent far too much time and effort on this to get something that would better meet my needs out of the box. Given enough time, I'll come up with a nearly coherent reason to explain this."
Now, before I go any further, I believe Apple was well within its rights to do exactly what it did. I understand that I (well, my employer) purchased a phone that wasn’t designed to run third-party applications; that it’s Apple’s right to upgrade the iPhone however it sees fit; and that if bad things happen to my modified iPhone as a result of any Apple upgrade, it’s not Apple’s fault."However, I'm going to spend pages and pages explaining why Apple is a big bunch of assholes for doing this thing that they had every right to do and even warned us about, because otherwise, this post would be really short."
I also understand that the new encrypted communications between the iPhone and iTunes may very well have been necessary to prevent SIM unlock programs, which directly impact Apple and AT&T revenue, from being created. I fully believe that Apple has the right to do what it needs to do to protect its revenue, and that of its partners."See? I'm showing that I'm really quite reasonable. It will make the rest of my screed look better, even in the face of factual error."
Still, with that understanding, I have to ask…what was Apple thinking?"How dare you not spend time and effort to work around random unsupported hackery to give the 95% of iPhone users stuff they seem to really like in spite of the fact that it pisses me off?"
What I don’t understand is that Apple apparently doesn’t see any upside to allowing third party applications on the iPhone. This confuses me, because an active third-party development community can only help, not hurt, Apple’s bottom line. If there’s a large and diverse pool of iPhone applications available, then there’s a large group of potential customers (think geeks and techies, at the least) that would put the iPhone on their shopping list. If they then chose to buy the device, Apple would welcome both the initial $399 in hardware sales as well as the portion of the monthly service charge it’ll receive from AT&T.Ah, this old saw..."Sell features for techies, we drive sales, we're the people who get non-techies to buy your stuff!" You know, this is crapola when Scoble uses it, and it's crapola here too. Here's my answer for that one. If geeks and techies were that important, the iMac and the Wii would have been great whopping failures, because neither of them are aimed at that market, and indeed, that market tends to not like either. Perhaps propellerheads are not the great indicators of success they so desparately want us to think they are. I've had over a hundred non-techies ask me about my iPhone and none of them have cared about hackery and third party applications. Only one asked me about Exchange, and I knew he would anyway. Linux sells to geeks, Apple sells to normal people. Who's doing better, Ubuntu or Apple?
These poll results seem to show that there is such a market of potential consumers out there: fully 15 percent of the respondents indicate they are no longer planning on purchasing an iPhone, thanks to the inability to run third-party applications with the 1.1.1 update. (And an amazing 42 percent of the voters are taking the same approach as I, and simply not upgrading their iPhones.) Granted, this isn’t a scientific poll, but the number of respondents in the “will not buy now” category indicates that there are quite a few users who value the ability to run third-party applications on their phones.Rob's using an Internet Poll to back his opinion up. I don't have to say anything else here, except to note that his "quite a few users" adds up to, according to when I looked at that poll, right around 10,000 people. That's not exactly a huge groundswell anywhere but the intarweb echo chamber, and I'm assuming no one voted more than once.
So how does Apple lose at all by enabling (and hopefully helping to promote) third-party applications on the iPhone? The company gains more hardware sales, and more revenue from monthly service fees from AT&T. It seems like a no-brainer decision to me, but apparently I’m mistaken.Well Rob, no, they don't actually gain more revenue in fees from AT&T off the phones that are unlocked now do they? No, no they don't. You may want to reword that part. Of course, now Rob's splitting hairs by attempting to disassociate "third party application developers" from the "hacktivators". I don't really buy it either.
But here's the biggest mistake of the piece:
I think this is completely the wrong approach: The iPhone is a Mac, and it should be treated as such.No, it's not. It's nothing like a Mac. By Rob's logic, there's no real difference between my Verizon 6700 Windows Mobile device and my Toshiba Wintel box at work. Just because it runs OS X, it's not automatically a Mac, and no amount of wishing nor Tinkerbellian hand-clapping, nor clicking of heels even in sparkly red shoes shall change that. The iPhone is not a Macintosh. Even if Apple comes out with a proper SDK for it, it's still not a Macintosh. Nor shall it ever be. I understand that Rob wants it to be a Mac, and very badly, but it is not one. It is a computer, but not all computers are the same. Rob, and the others under his banner really need to learn that, and badly.
When you combine the iPhone’s OS X core with the large, gorgeous and innovative multi-touch screen, there’s an amazingly vast amount of software that could be developed for the iPhone.There's a lot that could be developed for almost any computer. That still doesn't make the iPhone a Mac, anymore than it makes the iPod a B&O system. Similarities of function do not create identical states of being.
In just a few months, we’ve seen more than 60 applications developed for the iPhone—and all of them were created without any sort of documentation or an official development kit from Apple!This describes almost every programmable device ever made. The iPhone is nothing new here. The fact that it has been hacked doesn't make it special. It just makes it a programmable device. Just because it says "Apple" doesn't make it all different and unique.
There are developers eager to help turn the iPhone into a most amazing device, if only Apple would recognize the potential of the platform and the contributions that third parties could make to its success.Who says they haven't? Maybe Rob, Apple's not as stupid as you think they are. Maybe they're waiting for an OS release that would be the same basic version as the one on the iPhone? One that wouldn't be in beta? With dev tools that weren't in beta. Maybe they're a little busy on that, and decided that an iPhone SDK can wait for said OS release. Nah, it's stupidity. That's the only possible answer.
And why would we need third-party applications on this “revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone,” as Steve Jobs described it? Well, this revolutionary device lacks a full Internet messaging (chat) program, something you can find on the giveaway phones found in any cellular store. This revolutionary device lacks the ability to locate itself on a map, something found in quite a few phones via a GPS chip. This revolutionary device lacks any way to customize its look, beyond the opening screen wallpaper—again, you’ll find this ability exists on nearly every other cell phone out there. This revolutionary device can’t customize sounds for various events, such as the new mail sound, the sent message sound, and the unlock sound. This revolutionary device can’t play any games, unless they’re hosted on a web page. This revolutionary device can’t use any MP3 as a ringtone, unlike many giveaway cellphones.Astoundingly, a rather huge number of people know this, and don't give a fuck. Jesus, it can't make me a margarita, nor can it give me a pedicure, do I slam Apple for everything the iPhone doesn't do? $DEITY$ on a stick, what's next, the iPhone sucks because it doesn't squirt like a Zune?
But amazingly enough, my iPhone can do all of those things, and much more. All thanks to the third parties, who have done all of this without Apple’s help, and without any sort of official documentation. Just imagine what would be possible if they had both support and documentation: The iPhone really could be a revolutionary device.Right, because a safe supported SDK and dev environment on an embedded device is something you just whip up overnight, and that infrastructure takes no time at all. They take no time, just ask Microsoft and Palm, why they've never had a third-party application written with their SDKs do anything bad to the device they run on.
I think Apple blew it here, and blew it in a big way. Instead of embracing and extending the development of third-party applications, it seems they’ve gone in the opposite direction: to make it as hard as possible for third-party applications to exist. From a consumer’s perspective, this is awful, as it’s removing choice from the consumer—not everyone is going to want the same apps and the same look on their iPhone, yet that’s what Apple’s telling us we must have (“Enjoy your new iPhone. Everything you could ever want is right there, and we’re sure you’ll love the theme we’ve installed for you.”)Yeah, who'd want a device like that..why, it would be as hard to sell as the iPod! Again, Rob is confusing his loud, yet really astoundingly small geek squad with the larger set of all consumers, and while I bet his ego purrs like a well-fed tribble when he does that, it's still not true. Rob, the vast majority of consumers don't hack their shit. Ever. Again, I give you the success of the iPod as evidence.
Of course, consumers still do have a choice, but that choice is to purchase a competing brand’s smart phone. Is that what Apple really wants us to do?At this point, I almost wish that a certain segment of the iPhone population would do that, and soon. Really. You never really wanted an iPhone in the first place, so please, go buy something that you do want.
Until that happens, though, I’ll keep using my non-updated iPhone with its assortment of third-party applications, and hope that Apple eventually sees the upside of opening iPhone development to those who are eager to extend and enhance this amazing device."I'll make sure that I make all of you who don't give a fuck about hacking the iPhone suffer until I get what I want."
Look, I get wanting more out of the iPhone, but come on already, enough. If third party developers are that important to you, then why the hell did you buy the thing knowing it was missing a critical feature? However, since you did, if you must whine and gripe about this, and obviously you must, then stop assuming you speak for the majority of iPhone users, or anything more than a vocal whiny majority minority. The rest of us are quite happy with the device we bought when we bought it, and are getting tired of being misrepresented.
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Sherman, fire Up the Contrarian machine | bynkii.com: John C. Welch seems to agree with me, as he too is asking folks to return to their senses over the topic of 3rd party iPhone apps: One of the longer, better [Read More]
Tracked on October 2, 2007 1:02 PM