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Searching for beauty in the dissonance

Why I Won’t Buy An iPhone

I thought I’d celebrate the official launch of the iPhone in Canada by noting a few of the reasons I won’t be caught dead with one.

  • The iPhone isn’t free software, like the Android or OpenMoko. As the FSF points out, why take a device you can’t control when there are devices you can?
  • The iPhone is extremely hostile to GNU/Linux. For previous iPods, developers already had to reverse engineer a proprietary iTunesDB file to sync with programs that aren’t iTunes, but Apple decided to throw a security hash on the iTunesDB file for the iPhone and iPod touch. To help a friend sync her iPhone to her Ubuntu laptop, I needed to unlock the phone (so she could use it in Canada), jailbreak it, install an OpenSSH server, mount the iPhone to the laptop over ssh via WiFi and then sync. If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. Not caring enough to support GNU/Linux is understandable, but throwing up roadblocks for those that will do it for Apple is dumb and insulting.
  • The iPhone is not a truly open platform for developers. There are technical and contractual problems, including apparent incompatibility with free software. The app store seems like a great idea, except that it’s the only way Apple wants developers to create software for the iPhone.
  • Rogers’ ridiculous pricing plans and lame attempts to appease the “very small group of early adopters,” because, you know, no one else wants to browse the web. Though, apparently Rogers didn’t get many phones, in stark contrast to the absolute frenzy here in Australia with three GSM providers all getting healthy stocks of the new device. Serves Rogers right.
  • From a purely technical perspective, it’s not quite there yet. I have three devices: phone, pda, digital audio player. By “there,” I mean that I’d love it if I could reduce that to one device, or even two. It’s a phone, not quite a PDA (I couldn’t use it to take lecture notes like I do with my Palm Pilot), and not quite the digital audio player I’d like (my collection is ~27GB and I use Ogg Vorbis). I’d rather try to get another few years out of my current hardware and let Moore’s Law work a little bit more magic.

However… that FreeRunner is looking pretty good.

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