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Apple iPhone: OUT for 2009 on Principle

1st Generation iPod Touch
Image via Wikipedia

This wasn’t even something I was planning to write about, but I got into a bit of a discussion with Pat Phelan about it over Twitter and thought it’d make a good post.

I am not saying the iPhone is OUT because I’m a Nokia employee and don’t even own an iPhone. That would be like shooting fish in a barrel. I have philosophical reasons for being against the iPhone, namely the way Apple controls what apps can be loaded onto the device.

Only applications found on Apple’s App Store can be loaded onto an iPhone or iPod touch. Clearly, the App Store provides a lot of benefits. It makes it easy for people to find–and buy–applications they want. Nokia could learn a thing or two from the user experience.

The problem is someone–namely Apple–is a gatekeeper as to what apps appear in the store. That’s good–as long as you agree with what Apple is going to choose to allow. They can choose to deny apps on whatever grounds they want, despite publishing guidelines.

It also puts the gatekeeper–in this case, Apple–in a bad spot. When a controversial application comes along, they can’t win with either decision. For example, Pat Phelan thinks that “fart” apps and apps that track menstrual cycles of multiple women are “bottom of the barrel.” In other words, these are apps that Pat thinks shouldn’t have made it through the approval process. Apple loses both ways here: either they boot the apps for an arbitrary reason and get criticized (or even abandoned) by the development community, or they allow these apps and they appear to be “endorsing” programs that are tasteless or worse.

I agree that these apps are not shining examples of human intelligence. However, I am of the opinion that people should be able to write whatever applications they want, sell them, and consumers should be able to buy whatever applications they want and install them on hardware they paid good money for. It’s a matter of principle, and the Apple iPhone is completely incompatible with it.

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