Monday, October 22, 2007

OT: Apple - The right thing

I recently posted about Apple ( HERE ) and complained about the lack of dev tools (read:SDK) for the iPhone. Well, Apple has announced the iPhone SDK to be released in February:

(From the Apple Hot News site)

Third Party Applications on the iPhone

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.

Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.

We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.


P.S.: The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch.

Since my post pleaded for this, I have to now say Thanks, Steve. I am VERY pleased to see this happen.

In related news, I commute from Moorpark to Burbank every day on the LA Metrolink train system and I tend to pass the time listening to podcasts. Last week I was listening to the Creative Planet Digital Production Buzz podcast ( HERE ) with Philip Hodgets and Michael Horton (the latter is the president of the LAFCPUG).

Michael and Philip started to get into it over the bricking of iPhones. This is an issue that I have not covered here because everybody and his brother has written or blogged about this. However, after listening to this rant between the two hosts of this great podcast, I felt compelled to write about this. Michael felt that Apple doing this was beneath contempt and Philip defended Apple on this.

I fear that I have to agree with Philip here. Apple warned users that the next update had the potential of rendering hacked iPhones useless. Additionally, when you ran the update, aw bug warning screen came up that stated this as well and you had to confirm that you were aware of it before you allowed the update to continue.

I think that Apple acted with reasonable prudence prior to the 1.1.1 iPhone update. And, at the end of the day, if you bought an iPhone and then hacked the hell out of it and are now crying because it's useless, you got what you deserved. To expect Apple to support hacking on the iPhone is just as reasonable as expecting your car dealer to support you when your car fails after trying to add super performance mods to it's engine.

Recently, my Camry that I use basically to just drive to and from the train station had the driver's side window fail. I took it to a local mechanic who quoted me $450 to fix it. I demurred and called up the local Toyota dealer and they quoted me $250. The reason that the dealer was so much cheaper is that they can replace individual components of the mechanism instead of just replacing the whole thing as an independent would have to.

I took it to the dealer and then got a phone call a few hours later informing me that they had to replace the whole mechanism since someone in the past had installed a 3rd party version of the mechanism. I ended up spending the same at the dealer as the independent would have charged. And I am OK with that. While it was not I that put the 3rd party component into the car (I bought it used), I understand that the dealer cannot support things like this that fall outside of their control.

So too must Apple when it comes to the iPhone.

Now, I have stated before that I am not an Apple Fanboi - The previous analysis is just prudent business on the part of Apple. I would support this approach regardless of the vendor. Now, on the negative side of the fence, I REALLY wish that Apple would allow user created ring tones.

On my iPhone I have 1 custom ring tone that I created. It is a section from the film When harry met Sally. It is the audio from the fake orgasm that Sally does in the restaurant and I have it set to trigger when Nancy calls me. It's still on the phone and it still works just fine.

In order to implement it I had to do a file copy and a rename of the file once inside the iTunes library. Not much of a hack and I figured worst case, Apple would disable this little back door (which they did). Now, all of that being said, it is my opinion that Apple should ONLY charge for ring tones for songs that you buy that you did not previously own.

If you already own the music or the sound effect, you should be able to use it as you see fit for personal use. But, what is happening here is that the music companies are forcing Apple to charge their customers for ring tones regardless of whether or not the customer owns the material already or not.

Having recently finished reading Eric Clapton's autobiography, one of the things that he mentions towards the end is his predictions that the music companies that exist today will not be here in ten years. He also indicates his approval of this situation. Looking at what bands like Radiohead are doing (offering their new album as a digital download for ANY size donation - or none at all), the music business is in serious transition mode.

Personally, I would LOVE to see the demise of all of the record companies. They add no value. All they do is leach off of the talent of others and gouge the consumers. Good riddance to them.

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