The shit that Apple can get away with. They bring out the iPod nano, and clever folks reverse engineer and kludge their way to a user friendly way that a Linux or iTunes hating person (and I’m both – latterly it’s the worst piece of application software I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience) can get their songs onto the device.
Apple then come along and provide device firmware (and also iTunes) updates to render the device then incapable of speaking to the software that holds your vast library of tunes. The clever folks respond in kind in a quick manner by again reverse engineering a fix. Apple then bring out new iPods. Better screen! Better battery! Better shit! In fact they’ve put more roadblocks in to the device and iTunes, so that you are locked into what they give you and not what you, the customer, prefers to use.
Now we have the case of the iPhone. I can take or leave this device (more likely the latter), but the fact remains that here in the UK, it’s been calculated by someone with more fingers and toes than I that this device will cost you north of £900 over the two year O2 contract. Any sane person realises this is a super shit deal, but with Apple having something of a cool image, they will of course sell by the truckload.
I’m wandering off point, so I’ll get to it now. My point is that again the clever people spend days, nights and weekends reverse engineering this device so that the consumer has a choice of which network they want to use, how much they want to pay and where to buy it from (eBay being the obvious home of something of this nature). Apple have caught wind of this, and owing to the screams of their “trusted partners” (see corrupt bedfellows) and the severe loss of revenue, they threaten buyers with bricked phones once updates come out. To anyone thinking of buying an unlocked phone, this scare tactic works. The obvious mitigation is never to update the handset software, but this is hardly desirable.
On top of this, the phone is a highly restricted and proprietary environment. Most interested third parties are told to shove off, and anyone making home brew applications is again threatened with extinction with phone updates. It makes one wonder if these phone updates are little more than barely disguised rogue software exterminators.
In conclusion, Microsoft are (rightly) taken to the cleaners for their use of proprietary protocols and file formats, and their anti-competitive and immoral business practices. However, this does not lend itself to Apple, which has cultivated itself an image as the epitome of cool. In some regards, Sony is guilty of the same thing. They wouldn’t know an open standard if they fell over one. Blu Ray and Memory Sticks are just two examples of them creating their own specification when another one would do.
Let’s start going after the behemoths who put their stockholders before consumer choice – and this comes from one who owns an iPod nano, Sony PSP and PS3. They wonder why hackers target them, when the corporates leave little choice.