Apple – The New "Evil Empire"

First, in the interest of disclosure let me state right up front that I’m a “Microsoft fanboy”. Sue me. As a professional developer for the last 20 plus years, I think they make some really great stuff, and do a lot to get the word out to the developer community.

I say this because I really get tired of the gushing lately over how wonderful Apple is and how evil Microsoft is. Hmm, let’s contrast a moment, and I think the recent product announcements of the new Zunes makes a good place to do so.

For those who haven’t heard, Microsoft has just announced the release of some new Zunes, the Zune 80 (80 gig HD) and the Zune Flash series, which will have flash drives and come in 4 and 8 gig sizes. The original Zune will now be known as the Zune 30. There are a lot of cool new features in the interface, such as Podcasting, and the removal of the 3 day limit on listening to wi-fi shared songs, not to mention it just looks easier to use.

What’s really nice is all the early adopters of the original Zune 30’s won’t be left in the cold. There will be free upgrades so the older Zune 30’s will have all the same new software features as the newer Zunes.

Let’s contrast that with Apple and its iPhone and iTouch units. The iTouch, supposedly just a stripped down iPhone, yet there are many features such as e-mail that could be there, but are lacking for no apparent technical reason that anyone can explain.

Then there’s the iPhone itself, locked down worse than Fort Knox. For those who believe that when they plunk down 600 plus dollars for something it should be theirs to do with as they want, the very first upgrade rendered the iPhone into a brick. And once it’s bricked, expect no help from Apple.

Now, I wouldn’t expect them to try and restore everything, but the least they could do is a factory reset to brand new condition. I’d say that was very reasonable. But nope, you’re just stuck with a brick.

From everything I have been able to gather, there’s no real technical reason for the upgrade to force the phone to brick status. I could understand perhaps forcing a reset to “new” status, or that some apps would not work, but the complete paper weight scenario seems like nothing more than punishment on Apple’s part.

Before someone points out there are online sites with “debricking” software, my point is not about the phone, but about the attitude from the company that puts it out. Further, I also realize that ‘hacking’ the iPhone falls outside the terms of service. Cancel my account, make me reset to factory new condition, maybe charge me a twenty five or fifty dollar service fee to do the reset, OK those all sound reasonable. But bricking my expensive phone? Seems a little harsh don’t you think?

So let’s see here, on one hand we have a company that is rewarding it’s early adopter customers by making sure their devices will have all the latest greatest features at no extra charge.

On the other hand we have a company that requires you to use your phone with only they software they approve of. Fall outside that use, and your punishment: to have the sexiest, sleekest brick around.

Hmm, now who is sounding evil?

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