Fiat Lux

It's Latin for 'Let there be Light'

Belated Thoughts on the iBrick

on October 11, 2007

The Apple iPhone/ iBrick thing is starting to become old news. Since I’m happy waiting on the sidelines until a 3G iPhone comes out, I haven’t weighed in much, but there’s one or two things I do want to put out there.

I get that users want to hack their iPhones. It’s such an amazing device, and it would be even more perfect if you could only add [insert favorite missing application here]. It makes perfect sense. I’d be tempted to do it too, which is why I am deeply grateful I didn’t buy an iPhone.

What I don’t get is the outrage over Apple’s lockdown. It’s not like Apple encouraged developers to hack their phones and unlock their SIM cards, then turned around and went the other way. Apple was really clear from Day 1 that they expected software development to go via web apps, not installed apps. So why is anyone surprised when Apple started enforcing what they already said they were going to do? Did they really think that they’d let the “hackintosh” crew do whatever they wanted to the iPhone?

The fact that Apple was willing to go to the length of making hacked iPhones utterly unusable as phones strongly suggests to me that they’re doing it not just because of any Steve Jobs control freak tendencies, but because they have to in order to maintain the AT&T contract. And if they want to sell iPhones in the USA, that’s what they have to do. There is no getting onto the US wireless network without getting into bed with a telco. I don’t like it one bit, but it’s the way the industry is right now, and if you want to be in the game you cannot ignore reality.

I well remember when the Treo was first coming onto the market, hearing from some of the Handspring and Palm people about how utterly painful it was to get telcos to be willing to let it in. That was 5+ years ago, but somehow I suspect not all that much has changed.

At any rate, what I understand least of all is this: paying $100 to some 3rd-party outfit for an iPhone “unbricking” that will at best only work until the next Apple patch.

The phrase ‘”throwing your money away” comes to mind.

Update: Nice to see I’m not the only one weighing in this week.


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