Apple to sell lemons?

The Apple iPhone was released during my downtime, to much hoopla! It looks fantastic and sports a slew of features which, while previously available on Treo’s etc., Apple are now making available in a much more consumer-friendly device.

However, Apple is now taking a panning on the device after the initial honeymoon period has worn off.

Cory Doctorow has a great piece over on Boing Boing where he takes apart Apple’s offering for their DRM and lock-in:

Apple and Cingular have been trumpeting the technical prowess they’ve deployed in locking iPhone to the Cingular network, to be sure that no one can switch carriers with their iPhones. Even the Copyright Office has recognized that locking handsets to carriers is bad for competition and bad for the public.

There’s another thing you can’t switch with the iPhone: the software it runs. You can’t install third-party apps on handset. Steve Jobs claims that this is because running your own code on a phone could crash the phone network, which must be news to all those Treo owners running around on Cingular’s own network without causing a telecoms meltdown.

I’m a big Mac fan (I know, I hide it well!!!) but Cory has hit the nail on the head here. Imagine if Apple locked down the Mac, saying you couldn’t install 3rd party apps on it in case it might crash (or cause the Internet to fail!!!).

No, unless Apple row back on this stance, they’ll have a lemon on their hands.

12 thoughts on “Apple to sell lemons?”

  1. No they won’t.

    This is an iPod nano bundled with a phone and aimed at the mass market. (Price tag be damned) There’s nothing “smart” about a GSM phone which doesn’t have 3G connectivity, MS Exchange integration, doesn’t allow for viewing of docs, spreadsheets, or presentations.

    As such it won’t be bought by Blackberry or Treo users as it doesn’t even attempt to match the feature set of those products.

    The people who’ll buy this will be people who don’t give a damn about smartphones, which currently is 98% of the total mobile market.

  2. There’s nothing “smart� about a GSM phone which doesn’t have 3G connectivity, MS Exchange integration, doesn’t allow for viewing of docs, spreadsheets, or presentations.

    Ouch! I hadn’t realised there was no 3G in the phone. That has to be a big boo boo. 3G hasn’t taken off here yet due to the extortionate pricing but that will change soon and Apple’s iPhone will be high and dry if they don’t have it then.

  3. I thought the killer app for the iPhone would be routing calls over the cell network when nothing better was available, but using free VoIP whenever a connection could be found through WiFi or Bluetooth.

    Given the supposed ban on third party applications, this now seems unlikely to transpire, at least on this device.

  4. From David Pogue’s Ultimate iPhone FAQ(part 2):

    “No 3G is almost a deal breaker. EDGE is horrible for a device this advanced…how did that get overlooked?� –It wasn’t overlooked. 3G (HSDPA) is available only in a few cities. Apple says that when it’s more prevalent, the company will upgrade the iPhone.

    FAQ Part 1

    FAQ Part 2

    From an interview with Steve Jobs in The New York Times:

    “We define everything that is on the phone,� he said. “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.�

    The iPhone model, he insisted, would not look like the rest of the wireless industry.

    “These are devices that need to work, and you can’t do that if you load any software on them,â€? he said. “That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be software to buy that you can load on them coming from us. It doesn’t mean we have to write it all, but it means it has to be more of a controlled environment.â€? [my emphasis – GOS]

    All from Daring Fireball

  5. Eoghan: I’d bet an optimised version of Google Docs will be made available for iPhone/Safari, chances are more likely that Apple will look to flog a mobile version of their iWork suite.

    General comments: Which reminds me, no mention of iLife at all. One thinks Jobs has ditched the Digital Hub concept for a new life in consumer electronics.

    What was interesting was how Jobs put the boot in Java (No one uses it, too bloated, and so on) but gave us a maybe (Which is a yes in Jobs speak) on Flash. I’d be interested to see if Apple include the Adobe Apollo Framework in iPhone. They have the QuickTime and Cocoa Frameworks in there all ready, (No Carbon so all apps will now have easier portability between CPU architectures), but if they included Apollo they’d have the capability of running Flash apps without a browser.

    We’ve seen Flash video become a standard with the rise of YouTube, could cross platform Flash apps succeed where Java apps failed so miserably?

  6. Something more interesting is the notion that OS-X now runs on an ARM chip inside an embedded device. Treo, Palm and many smart phones with windows mobile 5 mobile phones and PDA’s are all running ARM cpu’s. That means OX-X running on just about anything. It may also be the reason that third party apps will not run, as there is no ARM/OS-X development environment (I’m a registered Apple developer). At best you need a compiler in the current developer package that can compile an ARM application. The current duel compile app (intel/PPC) could be used to deploy such a thing, but in a small embedded system would be wasting the environment. Wait for for a developer Appet development package, then you will see third party apps.

    Better yet look for a kit to break network lockin!

  7. That really isn’t anything new.

    NEXTSTEP ran on x86, PA-RISC, 68000 and SPARC processors more than ten years ago. One of it’s greatest strengths was that everything from the Mach Kernel upwards was insanely portable.

    The System 7 Toolbox and QuickTime threw a monkey wrench into that on the desktop side, porting Carbon to x86 alone for OS X on Intel must have taken a phenomenal effort. About as much effort as it took to create Carbon in the first place.

    No such effort needed on the iPhone so it probably moved to ARM pretty smoothly.

    The lesson here, and with Apple TV from what I can see, is that Carbon probably has a gun to it’s head inside Cupertino. Love it or loath it it’s all Cocoa all the time.

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