Channeling Jonathan Zittrain, Alex Curtis of Public Knowledge continues his incessant ranting against Apple and the iPhone for supposedly not being open enough and, therefore, somehow harming consumers and 3rd party developers. In his essay today about the supposed evils of the iPhone App Store, he accuses Apple of an "1984 kind of total control."
Hmmm, let's see... Apple creates a great new product that is so insanely sexy and innovative that even Apple-haters like me are forced to admit that it is the most brilliant tech gadget of the decade. Millions of people have flocked to Apple stores, stood in lines so long that you'd think they were giving away free pot and floor bongs inside, and then voluntarily handed over seemingly all their disposable monthly income to get their hands on one of these things.
OK, so how is this like 1984 again? Is evil Steve Jobs forcing the masses to buy this product? Of course not. So it strikes me that we can easily dispense with analogies to a book about coercive, totalitarian government control like 1984.
And if all this anti-iPhone ranting is just about the degree of control that Steve Jobs and Apple exercise over product add-ons then hey, I've got an easy answer for you: go get a different phone!
My current phone -- and I tend to cycle through phones pretty quickly in the search of increasing functionality and 3rd party app-friendliness -- is the wonderful HTC Touch. Specifically, I have the newer model that Verizon is offering with the oh-so-clunky moniker XV6900. (The Verizon branding / marketing department isn't going to win any awards with robotic phone names like that!) Anyway, despite the silly name, this phone is a masterpiece. It has more functions than I know what to do with. And did you say you want 3rd party apps? Well, head over to Handango and check out the HTC Touch store there. I hope you have some time on your hands because you'll be sorting through 5,100+ software apps available there for the device. But that just scratches the surface. There are so many other apps and freeware I have pulled off the Net for this phone that I can't even begin to count them all. Hell, spend a couple of hours over on the Howard Forums trying to sort through all the stuff that you can do with this phone and your head will start to spin. It's insane. And, as I've found out with this phone and my previous and equally app-friendly HTC XV6700, it's also an easy way to quickly eat up all your storage and slow your memory down to a crawl.
The bottom line is, Apple offers people a choice. Yes, there is a little more hand-holding in their world than I can stand. I wrote about that in my original review of Zittrain's book; a book that makes Apple out to be some sort of evil anti-consumer nemesis because their products aren't perfectly open to tinkering. But that's not what everyone is looking for in a phone. Many people just want stability, sexiness, and a somewhat smart device with a degree of tinkerability. Thus, Apple creates some trade-offs for its consumers, but it's a deal most of them will gladly take.
Again, if Curtis doesn't like the sound of that deal, then he should just go get a different device. There are millions of people who would happily buy his old iPhone, or take his place in line the next time Jobs rolls out another upgraded iPhone at an even lower price.