Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thoughts on iPhone 4 & Apple

I am one of the 600,000 people who pre-ordered the iPhone 4. I got it in the mail on Wednesday, a day before the retail insanity started. My verdict? It's a nice phone. The processor is blazingly fast, and the battery life is dramatically better than the one I experienced on my older iPhone 3G. Having said that, I want to share a couple of thoughts on the whole iPhone phenomenon.

Retail Insanity - what possesses people to camp out for days just to get a phone? Do these people have no jobs or families? Stranger still, why couldn't they just pre-order the damn thing online, like I did? Or else, why couldn't they wait a few weeks and just walk into any store and buy one off the shelf? I am amazed by people's impatience.

The Walled Garden - I think that this will be my last iPhone. I was seriously contemplating getting an Android based machine, but was intimidated by the hassle of prying all my music from the clutches of Apple's obnoxious music management system. There are phones out there that are just as good as the iPhone, but that don't restrict users from installing whatever the hell they please on the machines they buy with their hard-earned cash.

I hate Apple's censorship of applications. I am an adult and don't need a nanny to screen my content.

Worse still, I hate the fact that Apple is acting like a monopolist - restricting choice of carriers to AT&T's crappy network, preventing Flash from running on its platform and actively disrupting other devices from syncing with iTunes.

As monopolists go, Apple is far, far worse than Microsoft ever was.

The bottom line is that iPhone 4 is a great device and I highly recommend it, but Apple's smug and arrogant behavior makes me hope that the others guys win. Go Google Android!

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Ren said...

OK, I know I shouldn't, but I can't resist.

"As monopolists go, Apple is far, far worse than Microsoft ever was."

Really? While I may not agree with many of Apple's choices, it still seems that most of them are made for the purpose of providing a consistent and clean user experience rather than for the purpose of shutting out competition. In fact, the only thing iPhone related monopolistic behavior I can think of is the pre-iOS4 limitation that only Apple apps could multitask. But all of those apps were included with the phone from the beginning, so even that doesn't rise to the level of abusing a monopoly.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is known to have exploited undocumented OS calls in their Office products; forced computer manufacturers to pay for Windows licenses for all of their systems regardless of whether Windows was included, or lose the right to ship Windows at all; pull the rug out from under Netscape's marketplace by bundling the functionality with Windows after-the-fact; and much more.

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but if what you were saying was that the iPhone is a much more closed environment than Windows ever was, than I would totally agree with you. However, the obvious viability of Android-based devices underscores that the iPhone isn't even a monopoly in the first place. Unless, that is, you define the monopoly as something like iOS-based devices, which seems overly narrow.

Oh, and I just remembered (and then noticed that you also mentioned) the disruption of other devices syncing with iTunes. I would agree that this is potentially a problem, particularly with how much of the music market iTunes now commands. Even this, though, seems like it might be a bit thin to rise to the level of monopoly abuse. You'd have to demonstrate how this is leveraging their dominance of the music market to benefit another market. Perhaps it does. I could certainly support action to force Apple to open up iTunes for syncing with other devices, as long as the security model wasn't violated (since this would presumably run afoul of their existing distribution agreements).

On a lighter note -- though I hope this hasn't been particularly heavy so far -- I ended up standing in line 5 1/2 hours to pick up my pre-ordered iPhone 4. However, it's not like I made a decision at some point to wait that long. When I was pre-ordering, I decided that I didn't want to wait at home for delivery and figured I'd spend two or maybe three hours in the morning at the Apple store. I'd never gone for a first day and heard it was interesting so I decided to give it a go. Two and a half hours after the store opened, I felt like I had made it about 7/8 through the line. It turned out that I was wrong about that because there was more line in front of me than I knew. But worse, three hours after the store opened for iPhone 4 purchases, it opened for other business. At this point, the progress of the line slowed down significantly.

Without question, I won't make the same choice in the future.

Shadox said...

I stand behind my comments - although you do make valid points (as in, Microsoft was not a rose garden either).

If Apple had won the operating system wars, we would be in a very different (and worse) place in the computer arena. Think fewer computers, more expensive computers, far less choice for consumers and developers.

Apple's war against Flash and their position on iTune's sync - while maybe not monopolistic behavior in the legal sense of the term - is absolutely an abuse of market power, intended to restrict competition and reduce consumer choice.

In recent months I have come to resent and actively dislike Apple. Hopefully, their days of dominance are numbered and the company will return to it's rightful place as an innovative niche vendor.