Why I will *probably* never buy another iPhone

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 13:36


That’s a pretty bold statement considering I have no idea what the future holds for Apple and their mobile devices. But it is one I can honestly make. However, the way they’ve handled themselves, the control over the various iterations of the iPhone, as well as other entities such as the app store signals to me that Apple is not here for the customer but merely to make money. (Shocker…I know). It is by no means a new revelation in my mind, but one that I hoped over time, as Apple became more and more entrenched in the mobile market, would loosen up. So what exactly is all of this anger and resentment about?

There are two types of gadget/electronic/computer people: those who like to tinker and love gadgets, and those who simply love gadgets when they work and have no interesting in tinkering. For so long, Apple has (to me) catered to the latter. That is, they limit options and choices because “that is what the cusotmer wants”. Now, before you think I’m going off on an anti-Apple rant, I’ll let you know that I’m far from anti-Apple. I have several Apple products and will continue to buy from them. Just not an iPhone.

A mobile device to me is something that is unbound by limitations, cords, restrictions, etc. The complete world in your hand. While the iPhone is one of the best currently on the market that offers that ability, it is no longer the only one. There is android (on any device) and the Palm Pre and webOS which both offer experiences that are on par and at times better than that of the iPhone. Notice, I didn’t mention my other personal favorite, the BlackBerry. While I dearly love my BlackBerry and wish the best for future devices, in a consumer centric multimedia world, the BlackBerry doesn’t come close to the aforementioned three — not because of hardware, but software. The BlackBerry OS is so outdated and under developed in the sense that it still feels like it hasn’t changed much since 2001, something that simply won’t fly in 2009.

In regards to “no limitations”, no matter how often I play with my iPhone, which is now a glorified iPod Touch since I have yet to get my BlackBerry SIM and data plan to work on 3.0 (thinking about downgrading to 2.0), I still come away wanting more. More freedom. If I pay several hundred dollars up front and then several more over the course of two years, I should be able to install any damn application I want on my device. Instead, the “Dynamic Duo, (AT&T and Apple) have created a locked down device that is so anti-consumer it isn’t funny. Yet the iPhone is selling like hotcakes and insanely popular. Why?

People like you and me, that is people who are really in to gadgets generally love options and choices. The more control over every little aspect the “cooler” we feel. The general public doesn’t care about many of the things gadget nerds long for. They just want a pretty device with a cool touchscreen and the most apps in da world. Apple knows this. AT&T knows this. That is why they do what they do.

Take for example the numerous apps that have been rejected from the App Store for violating AT&T’s terms of service. Mind you, their terms of service is complete Bull Sh*t to begin with. Moving forward, the apps that that get denied have been some of the coolest, most innovative apps yet. VoIP apps that use 3G connections can really help people who need to save a few pennies here and there. The Slingbox apps that was rejected for streaming over 3G…only to have the MLB.com app pass with flying colors shows that favoritism and under the table deals are ruining what is supposed to be a consumer based experience.

Perhaps the biggest conundrum that boils me beyond belief is the fact that Apple deactivated original 2G iPhones from benefiting in MMS. WTF!? It is a simple feature that phoens have had for years upon years. Apple has commented time and time again that due to hardware limitations, the original 2G iPhone couldn’t send or receive MMS with the latest 3.0 update. Again, this is complete and utter BS. The only reason they did this is because those 2G iPhone users are now around that hallowed 2-year mark where they can restart their contract (good for AT&T) and buy a new iPhone (again good for AT&T…better for Apple). However, many people don’t need 3G and would be perfectly content on keeping their 2G iPhone for another 2 years. This wouldn’t make Apple nor AT&T any money so matters had to be taken into their own hands. Lock out those 2G iPhones from being able to use one of the most requested features since day one and now you have a new incentive to upgrade.

Sorry guys. I’m not buying it. While most people will be oblivious to the diservice being performed, how relatively easy it is to enable MMS on 2G iPhones, and sadly upgrade for no reason at all to newer devices, those who are tech savy enough will see around their smokescreen.

While it may seem like I’m singling out Apple as the sole problem behind the iPhone, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Besides, what good is a phone without a network? Here in the states, AT&T has been ruining its reputation for quite some time now, especially these last two years with the iPhone/3G/S. The App Store has only highlighted what many have known for a long time…AT&T’s network sucks like none other. It’s funny. Many people (including myself) harp on Verizon for being so consumer unfriendly yet AT&T often sails right through. Though, again, in recent times anti-AT&T rhetoric has escalated thanks again to the App Store and it’s polices.

Creating an environment in where the user is at the mercy of one manufacturer and one cellular provider is essence creates a monopoly (or I guess more technically speaking, a duopoly). Thankfully, all of the iPhone’s and AT&T’s success is drawing more and mroe attention to the biggest problem — exclusive contracts.

Within the last month, Congress has finally stepped up and actually started being a voice for the people when they announced an investigation into exclusive deals. Of course, AT&T and Apple claim that the exclusive deals are “a great deal for customers”. Pure BS and PR pretty face talk plain and simple. Exclusive deals are terrible for customers. They lock people into a single carrier and give them no where to go even after they serve their 2-year prison contract term. While exclusive deals may help a customers wallet in that a subsidized price is substantially lower than a phones outrigh retail price, subsidized pricing is available regardless of exclusivity. The idea behind exclusive price discounts is nothing but a PR ploy to try and put on a good face for Congress. Many times before, Congress and other politicians have been fooled and persuaded by varoius tech companies and policies that benefit the few rich and harm the majority.

But such practices aren’t likely to end anytime soon. Not as long as big companies still throw large amounts of money at politicians. That’s just how a free market works. Politicians are not “the voice of the people”. Instead, they are the voice of the few companies that can afford to speak.

Through all of this, the simple philosophy that Apple and AT&T are showing makes me disgusted, angry, frustrated, and unwilling to do business with them again. Hell, I may go back to T-Mobile. While Verizon has tempted me before, even with my love/hate relationship with them, I can’t find myself giving up the freedom SIM cards allow me, hence the move back to T-Mobile. In the end it all comes down to what you can stand, what you stand for, and how much you let your values and beliefs dictate your gadget purchasing decisions. Am I alone on my little boat of criticism, floating in a sea full of complaints? Or do I at least have someone else out there with me to keep me company?

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