September 29, 2007

Apple Kvetchings

Behold, the bleating of an upset consumer. Me, as it happens. As I've said before, I don't really consider the things Apple is doing to the iPhone 'wrong' in any legal or grand moral sense - but the part of me that is purely consumer (which has a large say in my purchasing decisions) is still ticked off at the imminent loss of functionality that is the 1.1.1 upgrade. Hence, the bleating on their feedback page.


Gentlement and Ladies-

I have been an Apple customer since my first computer, an Apple ][+ back in 1983. I have owned that machine, a Mac Plus, a Mac II, a Powermac 8500, a Powermac G4, and my current Intel iMac. In addition, I have owned the Newton OMP, 120 and 2100, as well as an original iBook, a titanium powerbook, a 1GHz AlBook, and my current MacBook Pro 15". I own an original iPod, a 40GB gen 4, a 2GB mini, and a shuffle. I waited on line to purchase the iPhone 8GB I currently carry, despite my inability to use AT&T's cellular service in my home - they have completely abysmal service here in Boston.

I have been using my iPhone constantly since getting it, again despite AT&T providing the *worst* cellular service I have experienced in my fifteen years owning a cell phone. I terminated an 11-year custom with Verizon Wireless for this device, despite their vastly superior network.

My iPhone replaced a Palm Treo 650. I had said that the minimum requirements for me to switch to an iPhone woulld be the ability to get mail, instant message via an internet IM network, read my eBooks, and use SSH on the device. All of these capabilities were easily available, with multiple choices, on the Treo 650. Despite only the first one being possible on the iPhone at launch, I bit the bullet and bought one, because the interface was so appealing and it allowed me to consolidate my iPod and phone devices. As time went on, I was glad to find that third-party developers were offering me the capabilities I had sacrificed in order to sidegrade to the iPhone.

And now comes firmware 1.1.1. I completely understand the running battle with SIM unlocking - while I may not agree with it, I have to be honest and admit that it doesn't really affect me, since the only network I'd be tempted to move to would be Verizon, and the radio hardware won't let me. I don't travel internationally often enough for the AT&T lock to be an issue, and as a Verizon customer I was used to my phone not working overseas.

However, I find myself locked out of upgradng to the latest firmware, because to do so will remove nearly all the functionality that I have come to depend on on this device. AT&T's service is so terrible in the Northeast that I have been forced to carry my work Blackberry on T-Mobile just to be fairly confident of getting a signal between the two devices. This should give you some inkling of how 'useful' the AT&T phone service is to me. However, I have been using the VPN client and the available SSH ports to manage servers, both personal and at work, when not in the office. I have become accustomed to being able to keep in touch with colleagues on IRC (using Colloquy) and AIM (using Apollo) when necessary - IRC is necessary for me as several of these colleagues are located overseas, which makes AT&T text messaging useless.

I find myself, now, with the choice of upgrading to firmware 1.1.1 and losing all the functionality that I have come to depend on on this device, being left only with the substandard cellular phone system it supports and extremely basic web browsing capabilities which won't let me use 80% of the websites I normally use due to its inability to support flash. While I use Safari as a hack to read eBooks I store on private webservers, this restricts my ability to read books to those times when I have network connectivity - and in Massachusetts, that 'E' for EDGE is not nearly as universally available as you'd think. I had had high hopes that I would be able to transfer some of my 100 or so novels onto the iPhone within a few months as development of additional software flourished.

Now, however, any effort that remains forthcoming from the mass of smart and creative people writing software for this admittedly excellently-engineered device will be sucked up into another round of trying to outguess your engineers for the meagre prize of simply being able to function. Why? Why would you work so hard to destroy functionality on this device?

I had had high hopes that, despite AT&T being so very awful, the iPhone would finally be the phone that science fiction promised me - the device I could use for all electronic and networking tasks short of those requiring the screen real estate of at least a laptop. I find myself bitterly disappointed.

J.B. Zimmerman

Posted by jbz at September 29, 2007 3:37 AM | TrackBack

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