The Apple iPhone rort

An article in The Guardian makes a few more points on the new must-have iPhone. Well, must have only for those who are slaves to marketing hype. It makes points that have been made before.To have an iPhone one must agree to a contract with AT&T, previously described as one of the worst mobile phone service providers in the US. So if you want an iPhone, and you are already contracted to another company, you have to terminate that contract with the related fees that involves. Ben Scott’s article also notes “if you are on a family plan, you may have to pay a separate fee to terminate all of your family’s phones.” And there’s the point that that AT&T doesn’t offer full coverage in more than a dozen states.Now, the real point the article makes for me, and I’d not thought of, is that the “practice of tying users to one provider is unique to the wireless world. Cable TV providers can’t tell you what kind of TV to buy. And regular phone service will work on any phone you can find at your favorite electronics store. In the latter case, that’s because there is a longstanding set of laws that guarantee consumer choice.”In the USA, at least, this is “called the ‘Carterfone’ rules, these laws make it so you can use any device you want – phone, headset, fax machine or dial-up modem – on your telephone network, so long as it doesn’t harm the network.”The article then says, “But it gets worse: phone companies don’t just hold the iPhone captive; they also routinely cripple features on handsets (like Wi-Fi, games, audio and video) so that you can only access their ‘preferred’ content. They also limit access to the network, despite marketing ‘unlimited access’. And they reserve the right to boot you off the network if you do almost anything they don’t like.””This kind of ‘blocking and locking’ behavior doesn’t stop you from accessing the internet, but it does shape your experience and undermine the open, level playing field that consumers have come to expect online. The iPhone is simply the highest-profile example of a wireless internet market that is drifting further and further away from the free and open internet we’ve all come to expect.”The only solution to this problem is a political one. Decisions that legislators and regulators in Washington make now will determine what the internet looks like in the future. The US Congress is holding a hearing this week – call it the iPhone hearing – to discuss the new technology and its impact on consumer choice.”So all this, and combined with the rort of having to send your phone to Apple just so you can exchange the battery, and other lock-ins, I’d hope smart people would boycott the iPhone. Even if it’s just to somehow enable consumer choice and stop the drift away from a “free and open internet”.For the article that got me thinking about this post, see http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ben_scott/2007/07/free_the_iphone.html

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