Archive for July 29th, 2009

Apple, AT&T, shame on you

After Adam and Thom, I will be putting a break on my Apple purchases too. I have already promised days ago one more Apple iPhone review to a third party store, so when I am done with that too, it’s over for me as well.

Apple is quickly becoming the new Microsoft in the eyes of the people. The funny thing is though, that Apple was always like that, it’s just that people outside of the Bay Area didn’t know all of the juicy details most of us residents know. You see, Silicon Valley is a small place. You will be surprised how small it is. Word goes out easily. So while I might not have been blogging or reporting much about small tidbits that I happened to hear over the years (in order to protect my sources), the truth is, Apple never had a good name as a workplace/business in the area. Not before Steve Jobs came back as a CEO, and certainly not after.

But I guess, the cat is out of the bag now.

Between the crude iPhone application authorization process, the no-background processes allowed, to selling only locked phones (something that’s pretty illegal in other countries and I hope it would be here too), it makes me loathe what Apple is doing. They have created the best smartphone experience, they started the true smartphone revolution with the iPhone, but at the same time they try to limit progress in other areas.

It’s not a coincidence that the un-approved, and previously approved by Phil Schiller himself, iPhone apps were ALL Google Voice-related (I think there were 2-3 Voice-related apps un-approved, plus the Google Voice official app that was unauthorized from the get-go). The hard work and sweat of these developers, all went to waste. It’s more than obvious here that AT&T is behind this plot. You see, Apple has nothing to lose with Google Voice, if anything, Apple has everything to gain from it (it makes their phone more useful)! But AT&T is the one who has everything to lose. Google Voice allows for free US-bound calls and dirt cheap international calls (just $0.02 per minute for US to France/Greece), which of course, puts AT&T’s business at risk.

What Google is doing with Google Voice is nothing but progress. They have the bandwidth, so they go with it. AT&T on the other hand, is nothing but a new RIAA/MPAA, scared of the new realities that technology brings! They can’t, or they don’t want to, change their business and/or technologies, and so they fight against the new kids on the block, who use technology in a more flexible way.

Put that in addition to what AT&T did to my iPhone last month: they cut off my EDGE support. My iPhone is LOCKED to AT&T, and it is NOT jailbroken. It is as vanilla as it goes. The only difference here is that I didn’t buy the iPhone from AT&T at the time, as I only needed to use their PayAsYouGo plan (since I do not do more than 4-5 calls per month).

Think about it. AT&T blocks NO OTHER cellphone-maker for that plan! They single-out the non-AT&T-bought iPhones, like they are a plague, EVEN if they might be as vanilla as they get. THIS ALONE can be used for a class action lawsuit. I had no plans contacting EFF about it, but be sure I will do so now, after the latest Google Voice fiasco. There are too many things to hold a grudge now, I am afraid.

In the meantime, I have emailed Apple with feedback about their practices, and I suggest you do so too.

Update: Kroc wrote on Twitter that “I think you peeps should create a charter that defines “iPhone fixed” and publish it“.

Here’s my list, in this order, for Apple:
1. No more locked phones. Phones should also be able to be purchased at full price, with no ties to any carrier. Subsidized phones with a contract should also be unlocked.
2. Authorization denial of iPhone/iPod apps should be restricted to malware/spyware/buggy apps, and to illegal apps (e.g. a Nazi-related app). All other apps should be allowed to go through to the Apple Store. Sexual-related apps should be allowed, but with age verification or warning.
3. Allow background processes on the iPhone/iPod, as long as they are don’t seem to be compromising the system (e.g. battery life, system software, towers). The iPhone is not a real smartphone without background processes.

For AT&T (and ANY other carrier):
1. Stop dictating to manufacturers what software they can put in there and what they can’t. It’s not your job. It only becomes your job if your towers are compromised. Otherwise, SHUT IT.
2. No more locked phones. Period. You can still subsidize phones, but they have to be unlocked.
3. Allow EDGE/3G/GPRS for all phones. Artificially limiting the non-contract-bound Blackberries and iPhones, is unacceptable, even if I am willing to pay up your crazy prices ($10 per 1 MB of data transfered)!
4. Allow “PayAsYouGo” calls from Europe and other places within US (e.g. the Ukiah area in CA, USA). It’s *unacceptable* to not be able to use my phone when I am on vacations (I am blocked from calling out in these areas), even if I am willing to pay up your crazy ass prices!

Finally, if Apple can’t design protection to open the app CPU without compromising the radio CPU, they need better engineers. The notion that the towers aren’t designed to deal with faulty clients is just bullshit. Who would design a client-server system where the server trusts the client?