The folks over at Gizmodo aren’t happy with the latest firmware update for the Apple iPhone. It seems Apple has followed through on their threat to render any iPhone that had been unlocked so it could work with a carrier other than AT&T into a $400 paperweight and, just to add icing to the cake, they also stripped out any unofficial third-party applications. This has caused the folks at Gizmodo to change their recommendation to Don’t Buy:
I get that Apple might not have wanted to wage a long back-and-forth war with hackers, as the PSP developers are. And this kind of big blow is going to be a devastating and effective scare tactic, even if a fix comes a few days later. Unlike a Sony PSP, people can’t go a few days without their phones, without social or work hiccups. This is why I never unlocked my main iPhone, only testing these hacks on a spare 4GB test dummy. But I don’t want to be held hostage like this. Did I buy these phones or am I just renting them?
Screw the unlock for a second. Let’s talk about the those third-party apps. While my 4GB iPhone is a brick, and the 8GB phone, which I kept on a totally legit AT&T contract, is now stripped down. Programs like the faux-GPS, IM clients, Flickr Upload, and NES emulator—what did they ever do but make the iPhone far better than the stock original? They made it far more competitive with open-platform superphones like the Nokia N95, to which I will now be switching. I flew back from NY to SF today. While there, I would have liked to have pushed my photos from the trip to flickr; I would have liked to have played NES games on the subway. I would have liked to have used the Navizon GPS thing to figure out where the hell I was at any given moment, and when I used one of those web 2.0 IM clients, my battery took a huge hit, and I missed a lot of messages because Safari couldn’t tell me I was getting IMs while out of the browser. Very annoying.
I look at my iPhone with version 1.1.1 software on it compared to the old hacked one. I’m happy for the iTunes Store, which we’ve been waiting for. But it’s not more important than fixing things, and adding capabilities such as copy/paste and email search. And it’s certainly not better than all those programs I can’t use anymore.
This is why I didn’t buy Steve Job’s open letter he put out awhile back where he claimed he was all for releasing music without DRM on it. Steve Jobs and Apple are the ultimate control freaks and they stand to gain far too much to allow you the freedom to choose which carrier you use your iPhone on and which third-party apps you can install on it. For crying out loud, they want to charge you a second time just to turn a song you’ve already bought into a friggin’ iPhone ringtone! That’s 99¢ to buy the song and then another 99¢ to make it into a ringtone. And, no, you can’t use MP3s or songs you’ve ripped from a CD to make ringtones. You either do it Apple’s way, at a $1.98 a shot, or you don’t do it at all. They haven’t started releasing software apps for the iPhone yet so there’s no way of knowing how much they’re going to charge for those, but you can bet your ass they won’t be free.
Apple has always been great at making easy to use and stylish products, but they totally suck at allowing you to use those products in any way they haven’t officially approved of. Not if they can make a buck by preventing you from doing so. So if you’re one of those folks who unlocked their iPhone and loaded it up with third party apps then you may want to think twice before installing the latest firmware upgrade. And to think you spent $400 to have a phone that tells you how it will allow itself to be used.