When Apple Stifles Innovation

John Gruber recently talked about how he deals with email on the iPhone, where Apple’s Mail tool lacks the ability to do something even as simple as flag a message in the inbox. He has go through a convoluted process of moving email to a specially-named folder, and then running a bit of AppleScript on his desktop that will take all the mail from the special folder, flag them, and move them back to the desktop. Good grief.

Why again does John need to go through this long, redirection process? Why not just use a different email client on the iPhone? Because Apple is anti-competitive, and third party apps can’t run in the background, straight from John Gruber himself.

Isn’t this a bit absurd? Why do people let Apple stifle competition like this? Am I the only one that thinks this situation is far worse than anything presented in the huge anti-trust cases against Microsoft in the past decade? Apple is specifically denying competition on the iPhone, and all the groupies think that it’s perfectly acceptable, even good for the consumer! But shame on Microsoft for bundling Internet Exploder and a Media Player; how dare they allow anyone to choose a different browser even!

People ask me why I purchased my Neo Freerunner instead of an iPhone. Even disregarding that I’d lose my choice of carrier, I don’t see why people are rushing to a company that depends on anti-competitive practices to maintain the ‘best’ apps on the phone. If Apple’s browser, mail reader, etc, don’t suit the customers’ needs (as is apparent from Gruber’s post), why are they trying to stop them choosing a better option? It’s not like Apple’s revenues depend on users choosing Safari or Mail.app; hell, wouldn’t they get even more revenues from the App Store if people could buy a superior browser for even $1 a pop?

Sounds to me like Apple cares more about maintaining control than providing their users with the best experience….

Your Freedom is a Choice

On the new G1 phone using Android:

i need a google account to use gphone; i need itunes to use iphone; i have to buy apps from approved channels.

it favors the vendors apps; no thanks

wake me when i can buy a device that runs apps i choose, connects to the network i want. i realize this is a pipe dream. the wireless world is a world of shit

i might as well look for the smallest flash-based linux notebook possible that runs skype and just hold it up to my ear old-skule style like gordon gecko and that giant cell phone from wall street

I have an Openmoko Neo FreeRunner: it has GPS, accelerometers, WiFi G, high resolution 640x480px touch screen, Micro SD card slot, good quality speakers/headphone jack, and good battery life; it works with any GSM carrier; it can run just about any operating system compiled for its ARM CPU; you can run and compile programs on it in any language supported by GCC or an ARM-compiled interpreter; it can connect to the internet via GPRS, WiFi, or USB with a PC, to update it’s software, install software packages, accept/initiate SSH sessions; it allows software to run that uses any windowing toolkit, including Gtk, Qt, and E.

Neo installed with ASU 2008.9 and custom theme.

It costs $399 direct from Openmoko and is available through multiple worldwide resellers.

I’m not a fan of Openmoko, but you make a good point. There ARE options for people who want them. The cell phone market is more open now than it ever has been in the past.

Your Freedom is Your Choice

On the Openmoko: … by the fact that Openmoko is a tiny company, they don’t have the purchasing power that Apple has to get newer hardware components at an inexpensive price point, hence the older ARM CPU and TI Calypso GSM chipsets. It’s still plenty peppy enough and has enough RAM that I can run numerous applications at the same time without degrading performance of the entire system.

Certainly it’s not as polished as the iPhone, but for people who actually care about their freedoms, it’s fantastic. Even if for the simple reasons that I can flash my Neo at will, and that I have no limitations from the manufacturer as to what I can do with my phone, or how it can be used, it’s the best smartphone/PDA I have ever purchased or used.

I find it interesting that you’re the most vocal supporter of the Openmoko on this site, and you still don’t use it as your only phone. Hopefully they will work out the kinks eventually, but it is not an option for most of us yet, not even those of us who care about software freedom. If you NEED to have a backup phone, then it is still just an expensive toy.

Correct. But that doesn’t mean that it’s any less important in the mobile ecosystem. It’s the only truly free phone in every sense of the word. You’re free to do anything with the phone, at any time, without the permission of phone manufacturers, or app store reviewers, or fucking NDAs.

The biggest problem with Openmoko is that nobody knows about them, and nobody realizes why they matter. Everybody sees the horrors going on between Apple, the App Store, and developers’ applications being rejected for competing with Apple, and then they complain about it, but that’s just the way it is.

Yet that’s not how it should be, and if everyone could find out about Openmoko, and actually realize and know why their freedoms truly matter, and that Openmoko makes the most freedoms-loving phone on the planet, then I wouldn’t have anything more to talk about.

But we all know that even Openmoko’s unexpectedly high sales amounts for the FreeRunner is still only a drop in the ocean compared to even only the iPhone, and even less compared to the entire smartphone industry. And that’s why it matters to me and others to get the word out, to let people know that there really is another option, one that doesn’t squelch your freedoms, and that if freedom truly matters to you, then you do have a choice.

Freedom is Your Choice. I choose Freedom.