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4/27/2010


Why I won’t have an iPod/iPhone/iPad…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 11:17 pm

For quite a while, I have threatened to publicly explain why I do not now have, and do not plan to own, an iPhone. I have explained it numerous times to folks who ask, and it’s starting to get a little old; the release of the new Apple iPad has brought all the questions back again, so I figured it was time to explain this publicly once and for all…after this, when someone asks me why I’m not leaping at the latest Apple product, I can just point them to this post.

A little background; for easily a decade, I was a huge Apple promoter. My earliest Macintosh is a 512k (still in the basement, and still worked the last time I fired it up), I owned the Mac Plus (which was tricked-out with all kinds of stuff, like an internal hard drive), SE/30 (which was tricked-out with all kinds of stuff like an external color monitor and processor upgrade), and the 7500 (ditto on processor upgrades and other internal doo-dads)…the Macintosh I still use routinely is the PowerMac G4, the last Macintosh built that can natively boot into Macintosh OS9. However, when the original System 10 was scrapped and replaced by the thin-shell of OSX layered on top of FreeBSD, I pretty much gave up on the Macintosh. (Oh, c’mon…I’ve been running FreeBSD and linux since the 386 processor. Why would I pay hundreds of dollars in premiums just to run a free operating system? Besides, the real advantage to the Macintosh operating system pre-X was the complete lack of a command line underlying it…since it was built from the ground-up as a graphical system, there was little way for any hostile application to hook into the system in the first place. OSX is just as vulnerable to viruses as any other *nix derivative being operated by a non-guru…that is, very.)

All of this is to say that there was a time when no one was more of an Apple advocate than I was, so you can’t accuse me of being one of those Apple-bashers. My reasons for avoiding the iPhone (and other Apple devices) isn’t based on an irrational dislike of the company…it is instead based on perfectly sensible reasons. To explain the main one, though, I need to temporarily create an alternate universe. Hey, it’s got to be better than the idiotic one being spoon-fed to us on Fringe…

William Bell…er…I mean…Bill Gates and Microsoft have decided to release their own hardware to go along with their Windows operating system. This computer is a breakthrough in technology, and runs a specially-created version of Windows, one that runs faster and cleaner than anything previous. However, on this new PC, you cannot purchase third-party software…you may only install software specifically “blessed” by Microsoft, software that must be approved and sold by Microsoft alone. No other publisher is permitted to provide software for this computer…any software by a third party that duplicates software provided will be immediately disallowed, and anything that operates on the machine without Microsoft’s permission will be eliminated with future required firmware updates.

If that last paragraph had ever actually happened, the computer literati would have pilloried the company, and the rank-and-file would have massed at Redmond with pitchforks and torches. Imagine the scorching reviews by the techno-reporters, and the Justice Department opening a case file to research the likely anti-competitive position.

Yet when Apple Computer does exactly the same thing, the techno-weenies proclaim it good, and roll over like panting dogs allowing the company to completely control what their telephone and MP3 player can and cannot do and all the while paying Apple for the privilege of getting royally screwed. Developers cannot even write programs (call them apps, call them anything you want, they are simply programs) for the devices without signing an agreement giving Apple complete control.

Yes, kids, the iPhone is specifically designed to keep the purchaser from using the device as he or she sees fit, and instead as a matter of technology cedes all control over to the company that manufactures it. It’s as if General Electric could dictate which brands of bread could be used in their toasters, or Ford telling you on what roads you may drive your car, all the while charging you by the mile.

Some of you are probably laughing right now, figuring I’m joking, or at the least wildly uneducated. Unfortunately, I’m not, and have, I believe, accurately (and conservatively!) described the current state of the iPhone and iPods (and now the iPad as well). It is exactly that you may not run any application that hasn’t been approved by Apple for inclusion in their store, Apple is the only company that may sell applications for the iPhone, and Apple will make profit on every application you purchase. They over-charge for the razor, and then over-charge for the blades. No wonder Apple stock is the darling of Silicon Valley…

Yes, yes, I know all about “jailbreaking” the iPhone. There is a constant push/pull between hackers (good form of the word) and Apple (Evil Empire), with Apple routinely attempting to brick jailbroken iPhones. I know I could do this, but d*mnitall, I shouldn’t have to break a phone I purchase just to use it as I d*mned well see fit!

Now you should understand not only why I won’t be owning one any time soon, but can not understand why normally intelligent reviewers and users are so ga-ga over the devices when their entire purpose is to take away control from the user (you know, the person who spends the money to buy the thing?) and place it firmly in the hands of the manufacturer (you know, the company that receives the money from the user, effectively charging the user for the ability to do less!).

I admit the Android operating system is attractive, but I’m even avoiding those right now because I don’t know how deeply Google has tangled itself into the OS (bad enough Google tracks everything on-line, I sure as hell don’t want them following me around in the real world, too!). So I’m pretty sure the next phone I own will just run Java, like the one I have now…it won’t be the darling of the techno-weenies, but at least I can install whatever .jar files I wish without having to ask permission from and paying kickback to some large corporation.

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One Response to “Why I won’t have an iPod/iPhone/iPad…” »

     

  1. Nostalgic Rumblings » I’m beginning to hate cell phones… Says:

    […] My old phone was a Sony Ericsson Z520a, a great little phone, but a little constricting when trying to make to-do lists, memos, and the like on-the-road…so I bought an LG Cookie (over on the left) at a great price; it’s a touch-screen phone that accepts java applications (so I’m not locked into someone else’s idea of what I can run on my own phone) and so far I kinda like it…it’s everything a modern phone should be (which tends to mean about everything except a telephone), and even handles importing vCard-format contacts, which I should have been able to get out of my old phone, but for some reason couldn’t. So I wasted a whole lot of time manually sending the contacts one-at-a-time from the SE to the LG via bluetooth. Once on the LG, editing was relatively easy what with the various input methods including phone keypad, QWERTY keyboard, and even handwriting-recognition (although there’s no programmer in the world good enough to program a device to recognize my writing!). Using down-time, I was able to get my contact list looking pretty good. […]


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