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Why the iPhone is evil - Journal of Omnifarious

Sep. 13th, 2008

02:48 pm - Why the iPhone is evil

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Date:September 14th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)

Re: So ...


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

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[User Picture]
Date:September 16th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)

Re: So ...

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*?
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