On the iphone and the million missing ones

January 29, 2008

OK, I broke down and bought an iphone. My main hesitation was AT&T and true to form, they were very slow in getting me up and running–unlike my iphone which synched to everything I wanted it synched to as easy as…well..Apple.  The AT&T problems continued when I got a text message asking if I knew that someone had changed my account password and if I wanted to verify it to call this number. So I did. The worst case of telephone tree hell I have ever experienced. An hour later when I finally talked to someone, they had no idea what that text message meant and whether or not my account was messed with. If only Apple ran a phone company…

But, like others I was curious about how Apple could be selling so many iphones with so much disparity between the 3.75 million iphones Apple says they sold and the 2 million iphone accounts that AT&T has completed. Could it be that 1.75 million were waiting for AT&T to get around hooking them up? No, it turns out that hacking iphones is a lot more common than expected. Here’s the story from New York Times. The story also partly explains why Apple did the deal with AT&T since they are getting a pretty darn good piece of the action on the cell contract.

There is a game going on continually in the technology world–control it to maximize profits vs. those who would force the controls off and make it as open as possible. Certainly it seems smart from a business standpoint (ala music industry) to try to maintain control and maximize profits. Yet, those very efforts seem both doomed to failure in the world of hacking and work arounds as well as seeming out of touch with the way technology is seen today. We live in an open source world, increasingly it seems. Apple runs the risk of losing the cachet it holds among the technology elite when it participates in the kind of non-open source strategies that the iphone-AT&T deal look like. Certainly millions and billions are at stake. But also what is at stake is losing the respect and confidence of the Apple groupies, and ultimately reputation, and ultimate the shift of evangelistic fervor and loyalty to someone else who seems to “get it” better.

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