In a recent conversation I’ve heard people voice their intention to buy an Apple iPhone. Surely the iPhone hardware and software is well designed and Apple’s marketing is effective, but there’s also a bandwagon effect at work here. People want an iPhone because they see others who use it, and they don’t give much thought to buying competing smartphones, or the iPhone’s restrictions. There are some compelling reasons why you should not buy an iPhone:
- The iPhone is only available through Apple-approved carriers. Apple uses a SIM lock to enforce it. As you can read on Wikipedia that’s not the case everywhere, but for example you can only get an iPhone in the USA in combination with an AT&T contract, in the Netherlands you’re restricted to T-Mobile. Yes, there are ways to unlock the iPhone, but Apple doesn’t like that of course.
- Apple doesn’t allow you to use third-party software, you can only use Apple-approved software. Developers who want to create applications for the iPhone need to pay a membership fee for Apple Developer Connection. Developers can decide on a price for their application if they want to distribute it through the App Store, but Apple will take 30% of the sales if it’s not free of charge. Apple can decide to stop distributing applications if it doesn’t like them, as most recently happened in the case of Google Voice. Of course, it’s possible to circumvent this by jail-breaking the iPhone, but Apple thinks that is illegal.
In conclusion, Apple is treading on your freedom. Do you want to buy iPhone and be enslaved by Apple, live with the restrictions, or the trouble to circumvent the restrictions? I certainly don’t. I’m looking forward to the Nokia N900, the successor of the Nokia N810. The N810 was an internet tablet without cellular capability, which made it uninteresting for me, but the N900 will be a full-fledged smartphone. The N900 will run the Maemo Linux-based OS which is mostly free and open source software, like it’s predecessors. It gives you the freedom to install the applications you like, and you can choose the carrier you like. I know Android exists as well, another Linux-based smartphone OS which is mostly free and open source software, but I think it’s flawed, and Google is well on it’s way to the dark side just like Apple. I especially appreciate how Nokia managed to involve the community with application development for Maemo, and I hope the N900 will arrive soon.
But Apple’s anti-competitive practices aren’t limited to the iPhone. Apple has also prevented the Palm Pre smartphone from syncing with iTunes. In the past I used to think that Apple wasn’t evil because of their involvement in free and open source software, especially the WebKit web browser layout engine. But it’s recent behaviour discredits Apple, who have become a second evil empire next to Microsoft with their market dominance of the iPod and the strong position of the iPhone.
If you don’t approve of Apple’s and Google’s actions, there’s only one option: punish them by voting with your wallet, and don’t be seduced by pretty-looking smartphones.