Friday, June 29, 2007

The iPhone finally comes out today (let the boycotts begin!)

I'm not especially excited about it anymore. I mean, I'd love to get one (and my current cell phone contract is up later this year), but I just can't bring myself to sign a contract with AT&T. Every single time I've done business with AT&T, from their credit card company to their long distance service, or through buying their cheaply made, overpriced consumer products, I've been screwed somehow. And whenever I think about how cool it would be to have one of these new iPhones, I also realize that I'd be crazy to get involved with AT&T again. I'd feel like Charlie Brown taking another swing at Lucy's football. It pains me (I'm a big fan of Apple), but I just can't do it.

I'm not the only person who feels very negatively about AT&T. Cory over at BoingBoing made a post recently about HOWTO get AT&T DSL for $10 (and why you shouldn't):
When AT&T bought out BellSouth, it had to promise the FCC that it would provide a basic, $10/month DSL service. However, AT&T has done everything it can to suppress information about the service. The Consumerist has found the plan.

But even at $10/month, AT&T DSL should be avoided like the plague. These are the scumbags who illegally wiretapped the entire Internet for the NSA, who broke net-neutrality to find "copyright infringements, and who inspired NBC to call for a law requiring all ISPs to do the same (imagine -- a law forbidding network neutrality!). Seriously: the only day I wouldn't piss on AT&T is if they were on fire.
Seriously, talk to your friends. Many of them probably have their own "AT&T is Evil" stories. And then check out this effort to encourage Steve Jobs to open up the iPhone to portability. It's all in this email I received a few days ago. Please consider taking action (and if you know of other efforts, please add the info in a comment!).
This weekend, Apple's new iPhone will debut with incredible fanfare. However, there will be an unpleasant surprise hidden in the fine print of the sales contracts. While the GSM technology used by the iPhone is designed to easily let users move their phones between wireless providers, Apple has chosen to lock their iPhones to AT&T's network for the foreseeable future.

This means that an iPhone purchased in the U.S. will only work on the AT&T network, regardless of what SIM card is placed in it. It cannot be taken to another provider such as T-Mobile, or taken overseas for use on networks in other countries.

Apple could use its influence to set an example and open up the wireless market. If Apple leads, we would all benefit from competition and reduced rates. Instead, Apple has chosen to lock iPhone customers in with AT&T -- a corporation whose practices seem to run counter to everything Apple stands for.

This is, of course, the same AT&T that enabled warrantless wiretapping and turned over consumers' phone records to the Bush Administration's National Security Agency. The same AT&T that is doing its very best to destroy net neutrality and create a "slow lane" Internet for the rest of us.

UPDATE: more from Cory:
Destiny sez, "Working Assets is calling for a boycott of the iPhone. The locking of all iPhones to AT&T is unnecessary, and Working Assets has specific issues with AT&T -- including their stand on net neutrality, their warrantless wiretapping, and their handing over of customer records to the NSA. They say Apple is locking iPhone users into a service contract with 'a corporation whose practices seem to run counter to everything Apple stands for...'"

Working Assets is a really top-notch organization, and they've nailed one of the reasons I've been skeptical of the iPhone since the start. Handset locking sucks, and AT&T sucks more: These people are criminal traitors who helped wiretap the nation, neutricidal maniacs bent on wrecking the Internet, and convicted monopolists besides.

It's terrible that Apple is selling out its customers to this thug of a company -- it's like being traded to the cellblock bully for two packs of cigarettes. None of the mobile carriers are good companies, but AT&T is the worst of the bunch. And honestly, is there anyone who believes that having a captive audience of two-year-locked iPhone customers will incentivize AT&T to behave better? Link (Thanks, Destiny!)

And more from David Alpert (via Working Assets):
Despite the great innovation it represents in mobile technology, the iPhone is also a step backward for some of the worst practices of the mobile industry.

The phone will only work on AT&T's network, unlike other GSM phones, making it impossible for a customer to lawfully purchase it and then connect it to another GSM network in the U.S. (T-Mobile) or any GSM system overseas. This is the same AT&T that recently announced its intention to built technology to spy on its customers on behalf of the RIAA and MPAA...

And worst of all, the iPhone doesn't allow third party applications at all - even worse than Verizon's practice, the previous worst, of requiring all application writers to go through an arduous approval process and pay high costs to Verizon. The iPhone does allow AJAX Web apps to run on the phone's Safari browser, which ameliorates much of the problem, but that has many limits, most of which aren't yet known. Will the apps be able to access the camera or microphone? (Probably not.) Will they be able to take advantage of the innovative input gestures like zooming by moving fingers closer or farther? Access the address book? Save files locally? Apple could have built an API for developers, but they've never been particularly interested in fostering a development community around their technology.

Many defenders of wireless industry practices like early termination fees and locking argue that if consumers really cared about these things, they wouldn't purchase phones and plans with them. Well, I'm not purchasing an iPhone. And I hope you won't either.

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