I am currently on holiday and have been blissfully unaware of work related things for a week now, but I wanted to comment on a couple of items mainly because it is hard for me to keep my mouth shut.
As most of the world knows, Apple recently introduced two new iPhones. Their main feature is that they are larger: the iPhone 6 is the size of a Nexus 4 while the iPhone 6 Plus is slightly smaller than a Galaxy Note 4.
And that was pretty much it.
This is why I miss Steve Jobs. Jobs had the ability to create things I didn’t know I wanted. His vision for the first iPhone became the dominate paradigm for an industry. Heck, I can remember when OS X Tiger came out and the big feature was Time Machine and I thought it was a joke – at least to announce as a major feature – until it saved me on a number of occasions from a catastrophic disk failure.
Bigger phones, and only slightly faster ones at that, don’t qualify.
I do think that Apple Pay will finally get NFC payments into the mainstream. Only Apple has enough clout to get the banks in line, but what does that really get you? I live in a fairly rural section of North Carolina, USA, and I can pretty much pay for anything under $75 with a swipe of my credit card. No need to dig out or unlock my phone, just swipe and go. I can’t see myself using my phone for the same thing.
But that probably labels me as an “Apple hater”.
I am a big fan of Stephen Fry, and during this trip I read a post where he commented on how much he liked the new iPhones. Besides being an awesome actor he is quite the technologist, and I respect his opinions. But I really disliked this post because of his references to “Apple haters”.
There was a time when I was definitely on the blunt end of “Apple hate”. I bought my first Powerbook in January of 2003 when, outside of certain tech circles, they were non-existent. But jump ahead 10 years and now Apple is the 800 pound gorilla with more cash on hand than the US government. I don’t know of a college kid, outside of those using Linux, who would be caught dead with anything other than a Macbook. They are fashion statements, and Apple is the new Microsoft. They are “The Man” and so I find it funny when any criticism of them is met with virulent attacks on the critic.
Case in point: today on Slashdot a person was having issues with iOS 8. I read through a few of the comments to see if it was an isolated case or a trend, but the discussion immediately devolved into fan boys vs. haters.
My favorite laptop of all time, and I’ve owned a number of them including many from Apple, was that first 12-inch Powerbook. It combined the best of open and closed software, but over the last decade everything Apple seems to be locked up tighter and tighter. And while I applaud their efforts to safe guard their user’s information, the recent iCloud breach shows that they can’t think of everything. Seriously, we addressed brute force password attacks in BBS software in the 1980s, yet Apple missed it.
On the iPhone 6 launch day I found myself in Paris looking for a SIM card so I visited a couple of shops selling iPhones. There were no lines but I did see at least one phone being sold – an iPhone 6 Plus – and it was huge. Granted, this was in the afternoon so maybe I missed the fan boy lines, but at least here it was just another day (despite huge banners on the FNAC stores).
Another reason I miss Jobs is that he would never have pre-announced the Apple Watch. It would have been ready for the Christmas shopping season, not some nebulous time in March. It wouldn’t have been square and flat, either.
So, why am I posting this? It’s mainly a vain plea in the hope that Apple will consider opening up its hardware to allow for real innovation. Things are obviously stagnant over in Mountain View and they could use a shot in the arm. Unfortunately, the fact that they lock everything down is even spilling over to vendors such as Samsung, who now lock down their bootloaders so that alternative software can’t be installed. Heck, even Apple’s new NFC support is limited to their single app and my guess is that users will have to wait for the inevitable jailbreak to use the technology for which they paid good money. And, really, what would it cost them? I’m not asking them to support non-Apple software just to put the technology into the most hands.
Tim Cook apparently opened the Palo Alto Apple Store on launch day, which I thought was cool, but he told a Samsung phone user that they needed a new phone.
For me, at least, freedom trumps newness. Just being new isn’t enough. I think I need to join with Mad Dog and just start asking “why would you want a proprietary phone?”.