?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Why the iPhone is evil - Journal of Omnifarious

Sep. 13th, 2008

02:48 pm - Why the iPhone is evil

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

I think the iPhone is evil, and doubly so because it is so nice and pretty. The reason I think it is evil is because it is laden with DRM. Apple controls it completely. By putting your life into your iPhone, you've basically sold your soul to Apple.

Apple must approve any application that runs on the iPhone. Any application must be signed by Apple in order to run. So, as an example, Apple is refusing to allow an iTunes competitor to run on the iPhone. Why anybody would want to pay money for a device that basically isn't really their's is beyond me.

I think the iPhone is especially evil because it is such a neat and pretty device. Many people would be tempted to think that really they do actually get the value they pay money for and ignore the fact that really, the device exists only to benefit Apple and any benefit it provides to them is like the lure of a angler fish. The iPhone is basically a trojan horse, and the fact that you are tricked into paying for it only adds insult to injury.

Current Location: 2305 NW Market St, 98107
Current Mood: [mood icon] annoyed

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:mysticalforest
Date:September 14th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
(Link)
Why anybody would want to pay money for a device that basically isn't really their's is beyond me.
Because we don't care in the slightest.

What I do care about is shite that actually works instead of buggy crap, has a good interface instead of a hateful one, and is elegant instead of looking like a Soviet-era box phone. iPhone not only has all three but kicks ass in all three.

the device exists only to benefit Apple
Nope. It benefits me. I got mine when it came out because it combines several devices into one reducing the load in my purse significantly and works seamlessly and effortlessly with my Mac, which no other device does. Even when I was using my various PalmPilots which had Mac-specific software there was always a significant degree of crapitude. It didn't always sync, the interface was horrible and un-Mac-like, and on and on.

No competitor to iTunes on the iPhone? No one, and by no one I mean me, cares. I'm not aware of any solution on the Mac that works as well on its own, is as seamless with my Mac, has as many options, is as convenient to buy things, and has such a good interface. That's more than most things that float to the surface.

As well: I fully recognize Apple's right to nix whatever they want. I'm more than happy to allow this control in exchange for having something so awesome that works as well in the real world. If what they were offering didn't hit all those marks at once and so well, it would be a different story.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:omnifarious
Date:September 14th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
(Link)

Because we don't care in the slightest.

I am saddened that there are people in the world so eager to trade their freedom for comfort. I wouldn't be the guy who was happy to go back into the Matrix for a steak dinner.



Edited at 2008-09-14 01:03 am (UTC)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mysticalforest
Date:September 14th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
(Link)
Freedom to do what?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:byrdie
Date:September 14th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
(Link)
Freedom to install whatever third party software you want, I'm guessing.

I once lived with a techie who lived completely ignorant of Apple products because he'd heard some bad things about them. Nevermind that he mainly worked developing Microsoft software rather than working completely in Open Source material. When a Mac advocate friend of mine gave him a updated view of Apple hardware and software, said techie acknowledged the superiority of their product but for two problems:
  1. It was far more expensive than PC hardware.
  2. A random techie couldn't just write a new OS for it if he or she wanted to.
Nevermind that he had a storage unit holding computer bits that he didn't need or want anymore, and thus had probably sunk as much or more money into PC hardware than he would have just in getting a Mac laptop or workstation. There was also the fact that he had no plans to write this supposed OS -- it was mainly the principle of the thing. This principle had the Mac advocate scoffing because the techie continued to beat his head against MS products year after year.

The "I can't use this for whatever I want to" is that same problem as with the CueCat scanners from the early oughts and the whole music copy protection issue. Voting with one's dollar and supporting Apple's restrictions on the use of their products likely sets a precedent for what can be done with all these other companies as well.

Am I merrily getting an iPhone for my birthday? Fuck yes: I asked for it specifically, and this conversation hasn't changed my mind at all for specifically the reasons you said: I want something that works well with my Mac laptop, and has features that I actually find useful. After years of dealing with poorly designed products, I want something that works well. That's what Apple does -- even during Steve Job's brief stint with the incredibly expensive NeXT -- they make items that do what they say that they're going to do.

People vote with their dollar. The people who care about DRM either won't buy the current iPhone or have never bought one: they notice that they can't install what they want on it and that matters to them. But it'd be nice if the people who actually complain about this sort of problem would make affordable products that easily compare with Apple products and don't suffer from DRM rather than complaining that the rest of us should do without quality.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mysticalforest
Date:September 14th, 2008 03:57 am (UTC)
(Link)
rather than complaining that the rest of us should do without quality.
Truer words.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:omnifarious
Date:September 14th, 2008 09:00 am (UTC)
(Link)

Your friend is wrong about Apple hardware. There exists several distributions of Linux that run on it.

And I do use mainly Open Source software for everything I do, and all of the software I write on my own time is Open Source, and I try as much as I can to get employers to release their stuff that way too.

And I make a quality/freedom trade-off of my own that I'm rather ambivalent about, and that's buying nVidia cards for my main workstation Linux box when I can't get Open Source drivers that work decently for them. :-(

There are Open Source alternatives to the iPhone that I admit are currently not as good. One isn't as good because it just isn't as good, and that's the OpenMoko Freerunner. The other isn't as good because it doesn't exist as a purchasable product yet, and that's a phone that's based on Google Android. Either of those are as affordable and at least in the same ballpark of device as the iPhone. I will get one of those as my next phone, and I will do what I can to improve the quality of said platform.

I consider DRM to be one of the biggest (not the biggest, sadly) long-term threats to our democracy. It is about nothing less than whether we are pampered slaves or free people. If all of the electronic devices I own are subject to control by a central authority at that authority's whim, freedom is a joke in a computer-centric world.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mysticalforest
Date:September 14th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I consider DRM to be one of the biggest (not the biggest, sadly) long-term threats to our democracy.
Wow ... that's kinda crazy. You're making an illogical leap and throwing some hyperbole on top of that.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:omnifarious
Date:September 14th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
(Link)

I don't think so. Most DRM software has remote shutoff capabilities or ways for the company that controls the DRM to have ultimate control over the device. The police have already been nosing around about having the ability to shut off cars remotely. I imagine they would really like a way to grab all the data from something remotely as well, or get it to report its GPS position, or whatever. DRM can give that to them.

If I don't stand firm on my principle that the ultimate controller and owner of all of my devices is me, I'm opening the door to allowing that kind of control.

I don't think I'm being all that paranoid. AT&T was perfectly happy to give the NSA a giant data tap into all the traffic going over their network without even telling anybody. I think Apple would be willing to do the something equivalent if leaned on in just the right way.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mysticalforest
Date:September 14th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'm not seeing how law enforcement being able to remotely shut off cars has anything to do with DRM. The technical capability to do so has existed for decades, and the authority to stop your car has existed for even longer.

AT&T giving it up was also not a DRM issue but a plain jane wiretap/privacy issue—also something that's existed for decades.

Unconvinced, I remain.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:byrdie
Date:September 14th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)

So ...

(Link)
-- this becomes about the freedom of what YOU want everyone to buy as opposed to what the hardware manufacturers want everyone to buy?

Here's my thing: if people buy the iPhone, find that they can't load what they want on it and then get upset and stop buying it, then the iPhone becomes a fad and people move on to something that really works. Folks upgrade phones all the time: phones stop working or apparently become obsolete. Cell phones aren't going away, so there's plenty of time for the anti-DRM people to make something even better than the iPhone while Apple rakes in the cash for being clever enough to make something pretty and cool.

That's one of the questionable beauties of capitalism: the person who makes and markets the bigger, better and -- for what you're getting -- cheaper gets the cash. All the non-DRM folks have to do is catch up with the functionality, style and marketing and they'll beat Apple.

However, I have been bossed around numerous times by people who've insisted that I not buy or not wear something based on their own personal preferences, and I'm currently enjoying the freedom to buy or wear what I want based on my own preferences, not someone else's. For years, I didn't wear one of the last necklaces my father bought me because some politico lover of mine ranted against the slave-labor based around the mining of gold. This wasn't a new purchase: it was a necklace that had strong sentimental and spiritual value to me.

And thus the joke, to my mind, would be to submit to peer pressure. Some of us pick our battles. I'm sorry that your favorite products haven't hit the popular shelves in numbers that make you comfortable yet: that's unfortunate. Apple waited for its time in the sun, and thus so will yours.

Edited at 2008-09-14 04:32 pm (UTC)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:omnifarious
Date:September 14th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)

Re: So ...

(Link)

I would be happy if products that contained DRM were only allowed to be leased. Telling you that you own it is false advertising.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:kickaha
Date:September 16th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)

Re: So ...

(Link)
Then you ought to be thrilled by the DMCA, since that's essentially what it enforces... ;)

While I agree with you that the trend in DRM legislation is extremely worrisome, I prefer to consider the legislation and the products as distinct entities. The legislation will be pushed through, or not, no matter what happens with the products, and the products will exist, or not, regardless of what happens with the legislation. Fight the good fight on the legislative front (I assume you're an active participant in that), and vote with your wallet on the product front if you like.

However, the DRM issue on the iPhone/iPod is two fold: media, and applications.

1) Media: You don't have to have a lick of DRM on the iPhone/iPod if you don't want to, for media. This is a long running fallacy about the iPod - that it somehow requires DRM to function. Not at all. Go grab DRM free MP3s from Amazon if you like, and throw them on. Rip your CDs into AAC (preemptive mythbusting: it's not an Apple proprietary codec, it's the MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Codec), they work fine. Rip your DVDs if you like, fear of DMCA notwithstanding, and plop them on in H.264... there are lots of completely DRM-free options. Remember, this is the company that opened up the digital media market by producing a DRM for music that actually didn't completely screw over the consumer, and the company that is bound by what the labels dictate. You think Amazon is selling DRM-free because the labels prefer it? Hell no. It's a move to try and cut the legs out from under the iTunes Store. If they can accomplish that, the shackles will be slapped right back on, guaranteed. DRM on media for the iPhone/iPod, however, is a red herring - it's easily avoidable if you wish it to be.

2) Apps: This is a new frontier, and an interesting one. Code signing has both good and bad sides to it, absolutely. So far, MacOS X 10.5 has done a great job of balancing this act. The OS X in the iPhone inherits most of the same behavior, but the App Store makes it... unique. For being a blockade to malware, it's a good front line. I appreciate the monitoring aspects of it on MacOS X, it's caught a couple of corruption issues, for instance. For being the thin edge of the wedge to blocking potential competition when there's a single point of distribution, it's troublesome. We'll have to see how it plays out. Expect missteps, but it's in their best interests to get it right as soon as possible, and they're obviously not idiots.

There's a third leg to this of course, and that's AT&T... but you're going to have that with any carrier in the US. They all pretty much equally suck on the bending-over-the-consumer-without-lube front. Whether it's an iPhone, an HTC Touch, a Blackberry Storm, or whatever Android device manages to see the light of day, you're still going to have those restrictions. The fact that they become so obvious on the iPhone is, I believe, as much a commentary on the relative ease of use of everything else on the device such that the pain points *really stand out*.

You've said that you're unwilling to jailbreak your iPhone, due to 'questionable legality'. I'm sorry you feel that way, I don't believe that it's worth being overly paranoid about possible what-ifs regarding vague legislation concerning how I operate a piece of equipment that I purchased. Look at it this way - I'm sure that App Store rejects will be in violation of the terms of agreement of pretty much most any carrier you may be on... in which case, you're already in a grey area, even if you had the freedom to install them.

Isn't it *FUN*?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:byrdie
Date:September 14th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)

Which friend?

(Link)
The techie still thought that you needed to take Apple hardware into the shop and get it opened with special tools to get it worked on. The Mac enthusiast actually spent huge amounts of time doing Apple urban legend trouble shooting before his wife got him to start drinking decaf.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:omnifarious
Date:September 14th, 2008 08:47 am (UTC)
(Link)

Freedom to install any random software I want whether or not Apple approves. Freedom to use AT&T's (or whoever's) network only worrying about how much data I'm transmitting or receiving, not whether or not AT&T likes what the data is.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mysticalforest
Date:September 14th, 2008 02:26 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Then why not simply jailbreak an iPhone?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:omnifarious
Date:September 14th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
(Link)

First, that's possibly illegal. I imagine Apple tolerates it without invoking the DMCA because they realize it increases the popularity of their phone and people can use the ability as an excuse. I don't consider doing something possibly illegal to be an option.

Secondly, I want everybody to have that freedom. Many applications increase their usefulness by having more people use them. If people have to go to inordinate lengths (like doing something that already sounds pretty questionable) to use the same application I am then that means the application's usefulness is limited for me.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mysticalforest
Date:September 14th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
If it's such an important issue, I'm surprised you haven't done the research to find out positively one way or another.

Isn't is a central issue for you?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:omnifarious
Date:September 14th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)

It is a central issue

(Link)

But, I already know I don't want an iPhone because of the DRM. Whether or not jailbreak violates the DMCA isn't big on my radar. But, a bit of preliminary research shows that nobody really knows for sure. The way the DMCA is written is very vague and it's difficult to decide what does and doesn't violate it, especially in the case of things like jailbreak.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:reddragdiva
Date:September 22nd, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yes, Apple is evil. There is an alternative ...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:omnifarious
Date:September 23rd, 2008 12:13 am (UTC)
(Link)

*chuckle* *sigh* Yeah, exactly.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)