Au revoir iPhone!

Yesterday I said goodbye to the iPhone and along with it, Apple as well. While I was working on the AGCO social media project, my good friend and partner on the project David Sauter of Envano had been kind enough to let me use an iPhone [I think he was secretly trying to bring me back into the Apple fold] until he hired a new account manager and yesterday my love/hate relationship with the iPhone — and Apple — came to an end when I returned the phone to Envano. It takes a lot of Apple to lose the love of a fanboi like me, but at the end of the day, to paraphrase the great Ronald Reagan “I didn’t leave Apple, Apple left me…

It wasn’t so much dissatisfaction with the iPhone that brought me to this point — it actually had much more to do with the iPad announcement. As Alex Payne lamented…

“”The iPad leaves me with the feeling that Apple’s interests and values going forward are deeply divergent from my own. The future of personal computing that the iPad shows us is both seductive and dystopian. It’s not a future I want to bring into my home.”” Source: Alex Payne on the iPad | Smarterware

Lifehacker went into greater detail…

“The iPad, much like the iPhone, is completely locked down. The user has no control over what she installs on the hardware, short of accepting exactly what Apple has approved for it. From past experience, we know what happens when a completely legitimate application—from a huge company that’s actually partnered with Apple—doesn’t gel with Apple’s business plan. They reject it, and you can’t use it. And what recourse does the power user have?

Jailbreaking! And certainly the iPad will see plenty of hacking, but only because Apple requires you to hack the device if you actually want control over it yourself. Apple’s gotten into the habit of acting like you’re renting hardware. They’ve become the all-powerful, over-restrictive, ambivalent IT person in the sky, restricting what users can and can’t install on their hardware.

With a device like the iPhone, most people slowly accepted Apple’s IT state over time. Apple’s stance is basically that their lockdown is for your own good—they’re protecting us from unstable apps, pornography, confusion, and other nasties. And for the most part, it worked, right? iPhones have remained fast, capable, strong-like-bull, and extremely popular. But conceding that Apple’s restrictive policies are to credit is sort of like claiming you’ve cured cancer because you knocked on wood every morning of your life and, as a result, never got cancer. (Sorry for the weak simile.)

What’s dangerous about the iPad is that it’s much closer to a “real” computer than the iPhone is. If you dock it with the keyboard accessory, it really is just a sort of low-powered franken-laptop. And yet this is a computer over which you have absolutely no control. And the question is: If we all continue to buy Apple’s locked-down products hand-over-fist (Jobs went so far as to talk about Apple as a mobile device company yesterday), what reason does Apple have not to keep moving forward with that model—a model that, to many, is defective by design.

Apple’s saying to consumers: “Trade in choice for a guarantee that this will work exactly as we designed it to, and you’ll never be upset with a computer again.” Unfortunately there’s no reason to believe the trade is necessary. At the very best, it seems like Apple’s extreme and obsessive control over what you’re allowed to run on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch is maybe delaying the point at which your software demands outpace the hardware, but even that is debatable. With the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, you’re trading choice and control in exchange for unsubstantiated promises.” Source: The Problem with the Apple iPad – apple ipad – Lifehacker

Perhaps the Unclutterer puts it best in this lengthy excerpt…

“My… problem with the iPad is more fundamental: The iPad appears to be Steve Jobs’s attempt to roll back the multi-decade trend toward more open computing platforms. Jobs’s vision of the future is one that revolves around a series of proprietary “stores” — for music, movies, books, and so forth — controlled by Apple. And rather than running the applications of our choice, he wants to limit users to running Apple-approved software from the Apple “app store.”

I’ve written before about the problems created by the iPhone’s top-down “app store.” The store is an unnecessary bottleneck in the app development process that limits the functionality of iPhone applications and discourages developers from adopting the platform. Apple has apparently chosen to extend this policy — as opposed to the more open Mac OS X policy — to the iPad.

With the iPhone, you could at least make the argument that its restrictive application approval rules guaranteed the reliability of the iPhone in the face of tight technical constraints. The decision not to allow third-party apps to multitask, for example, ensures that a misbehaving app won’t drain your iPhone’s battery while it runs in the background. And the approval process makes it less likely that a application crash could interfere with the core telephone functionality.

But these considerations don’t seem to apply to the iPad. Apple is attempting to pioneer a new product category, which suggests that reliability is relatively less important and experimentation more so. If a misbehaving application drains your iPad battery faster than you expected, so what? If you’re reading an e-book on your living room couch, you probably have a charger nearby. And it’s not like you’re going to become stranded if your iPad runs out of batteries the way you might without your phone. On the other hand, if the iPad is to succeed, someone is going to have to come up with a “killer app” for it. There’s a real risk that potential developers will be dissuaded by Apple’s capricious and irritating approval process.

The iPad also has a proprietary dock connector, a headphone jack, and no other ports. The net effect of this is, again, to give Apple complete control over the platform’s evolution, because the only way for third-party devices to connect to the iPad is through the proprietary dock connector. Again, this made a certain amount of sense on the iPhone, where space, weight, and ergonomics are at a premium. But it’s totally unacceptable for a device that aims to largely replace my laptop. Hell, even most video game consoles have USB ports.

The iPad book store looks like it has similar flaws. From all indications, the books you “buy” on an iPad will be every bit as limited as the books you “buy” on the Kindle; if you later decide to switch to another device, there’s no easy (or legal) way to take your books with you. I think this is an issue that a lot of Kindle owners haven’t thought through carefully, and that it will trigger a backlash once a significant number of them decide they’d like to try another device.

This is of a piece with the rest of Apple’s media strategy. Apple seems determined to replicate the 20th century business model of paying for copies of content in an age where those copies have a marginal cost of zero. Analysts often point to the strategy as a success, but I think this is a misreading of the last decade. The parts of the iTunes store that have had the most success — music and apps — are tied to devices that are strong products in their own right. Recall that the iPod was introduced 18 months before the iTunes Store, and that the iPhone had no app store for its first year. In contrast, the Apple TV, which is basically limited to only playing content purchased from the iTunes Store, has been a conspicuous failure. People don’t buy iPods and iPhones in order to use the iTunes store. They buy from the iTunes store because it’s an easy way to get stuff onto their iPods and iPhones.

Apple is fighting against powerful and fundamental economic forces. In the short term, Apple’s technological and industrial design prowess can help to prop up dying business models. But before too long, the force of economic gravity will push the price of content down to its marginal cost of zero. And when it does, the walls of Apple’s garden will feel a lot more confining. If “tablets” are the future, which is far from clear, I’d rather wait for a device that gives me full freedom to run the applications and display the content of my choice.” Source: The case against the iPad | Unclutterer

I’ll give the final word to the Wall Street Journal…

“An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal argues that Apple’s love of strategy has overclouded its passion for products. Is Holman Jenkins right that Apple is the new Microsoft, and iTunes is the new Windows?

Obviously, the companies are so inherently different both culturally and strategically that it’s easy to dismiss Jenkins’ claim out of hand. But there’s at least one strong point here: Apple’s refusal to incorporate Flash may hamper the iPhone’s capabilities, but it forces users to go to iTunes for content they could otherwise get for free on Hulu” Source: Has Apple Become Microsoft? – Microsoft – Gizmodo

At one time, I was so passionate about the Macintosh platform that I switched careers and literally became a “Kelly Girl” just so I could get my hands on a Macintosh. In 1989, I spent $4,000 on a Macintosh SE with 4 megs of RAM, a 40 MB hard drive and a dot matrix printer so I could continue my journey. I established a national reputation as one of the top Mac consultants in the country by receiving the first ever Croix de Crabbe award from Don Crabbe of MacWeek. Eventually, I worked three years for Apple and was ‘reorged’ out of the company twice. Today’s Apple is the evil Microsoft we waged war against so long ago when the passion that drove me was the Steve Jobs mantra that it was ‘better to be a pirate than to join the Navy’. Now, 25 years later, Jobs is just a pirate and I’m getting off the ship…

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