“Bring On The Pain!”
Ages ago now (sorry), realising that I couldn’t really say what I had intended to say about Apple without actually going through the “fail” process for myself after writing iPhone 3.0: The Dark Side – Part 1, I decided to sacrifice my un-activated 1.0 iPhone in the name of science, and upgraded the firmware to iPhone 3.0. Here’s how it went…
I connected the iPhone to my PC, then waited the 45 minutes or so it takes for Apple’s flagship product to load in Windows. It duly reported that a firmware update was available, so I chose to install and waited. After downloading and installing, the iPhone re-booted and reported that it was waiting to be activated. “That’s all folks!” I thought, but after 2 minutes of sitting doing nothing, my iPhone gave up trying to activate and just turned on and worked.
Obviously it doesn’t make phone calls or send texts, but all iPod functions and Wi-Fi operations work exactly as they should. At least for the moment, Apple have decided to stop killing unactivated hardware.
Bollocks, I thought.
I’d planned this second part of this article to be a scathing rant against Apple, but dutiful in their role to forever fuck me off in new ways, they went and corrected the problem. I suppose I should be happy, but of course I’m not.
It’s true that Apple are not the only company to hold their customers to ransom over firmware. Sony immediately spring to mind with the PSP, but any owner of a first-gen iPhone on launch day will tell you that it was a brick until it was activated. Just as with the PSP, I predict an increasing trend of apps requiring a certain firmware. It’s like tugging on the lead of an obedient dog and it pisses me off. Incidentally, only the latest version of iTunes will let you get away with using an unactivated iPhone. Apart from the fact that it fucked-up my article, I came away from the realisation that my iPhone would work “this time” with a somewhat uneasy feeling.
And that’s when it hit me. This wouldn’t be a problem on my Archos. And why not? Well, because it lives in the free world. It’s designed by a small company, uses freeware and licensed code from many sources and is, by definition, a universal adapter. Because no one empire controls it, there is no “God of the Ecosystem”, dictating the rules.
I think that although I have to (and I do) acknowledge that Apple fixed a massive injustice before I got off my arse to whinge about it, I can’t help feel as if I got through the whole experience “Indiana Jones” style, as if I’d just missed the rolling boulder. Who knows what the dictatorship will start throwing at people when iPhone PAYG data plans start running out?
I can’t now say that “Apple will turn your iPhone off”, but equally, I can’t say that one day, they won’t. Just like the PSP, when you pick a proprietary, protected format, you don’t just invest in the format, but you invest in the company behind it and everything it decides to do. Does this all sound like sour grapes? Maybe, but even when they graciously allow you to use the hardware you’ve paid for, I can’t ignore the insular, inflexible nature of the Apple Eco-System. Nor should you have to.
There is an alternative. We’ll have a look at the Archos 7 next.
The Average Windows Nerd.