The FSF blog has a scaremongering piece about the iPhone 3G giving 5 reasons why you should avoid the iPhone. Because it’s fun, let’s look at them and see why or not we agree.
iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can’t be on everyone’s phones.
- Okay, developers must pay $99 for their certificate so that the automatic updates and other infrastructure can be built. After this there’s no charges. How much does a signed certificate cost these days? And the infrastructure for automatic updates? Free? Not really. Now, it’s true that Apple’s review process is arse-about-face in terms of allowing developers to put in updates (the review should cover the initial app not updates. The certificate is there for a reason, guys) but I guess this is to prevent developers from sneaking in features that Apple doesn’t like – like VoIP over EDGE or anything using private frameworks. So, yes, it sucks. But not for the reasons given. It sucks because it exposes Apple as a profit-making company – which we all knew anyway and isn’t fixable. It sucks because it exposes a problem in their application review process – which is a process issue and is therefore fixable.
- iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.
- Let’s get this one out of the way. There’s nothing wrong with Digital Rights Management (DRM) any more than there’s anything wrong with software developers wanting to earn money. I don’t mind paying for quality software and if moving to completely Free software means I have to put up with the quality of software I’ve seen with most free projects, then I wholeheartedly support pay-for software. And calling it ‘Digital Restrictions Management’ is really kinda childish at this point.
- iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.
- Actually it asks you every time you try to use Location Services and also has a button to turn it off. Did you know that ALL cellphones and ALL GPS devices can be tracked remotely without your knowledge? Did you know that your car, your computer and even your own body can be tracked remotely without your knowledge by people using their eyes, ears and nose? Some of us aren’t paranoid schizophrenics – we want to use location services to provide a better experience for ourselves and others. Location is part of the metadata of our identity – we should be using it more not worrying about whether or not our rights are being eroded.
- iPhone won’t play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.
- This is the price of convenience. I could spend a lot of time making this work on my Mac but, you know what, the gains simply are not worth the costs. I have DRM-free music and video on my Mac. I put this onto my iPhone. I’m not going to worry about whether it’s ‘Free’ or not as long as it suits my usage. Ogg is going nowhere. Find a fight you can win.
- iPhone is not the only option. There are better alternatives on the horizon that respect your freedom, don’t spy on you, play free media formats, and let you use free software — like the FreeRunner.
- Woah, that’s a step far. The FreeRunner is ‘better’ only if you value the licensing terms of the software. It doesn’t help your freedom, it plays free media formats (but by extension will give you trouble with ‘standard’ music formats) and lets you use free software that was designed by an engineer with no respect for HCI conventions. Oh, and like the iPhone it will expose your location and allow others to track you because it’s a cellphone and all mobile phones do that.
In short, it’s another classic FUD piece from the FSF. Last time they were warning that the iPhone might be using free software, now they’re holding up a telephone that can just recently make calls and SMS messages and saying it’s better than the JesusPhone.
But of course, they’re not going to embrace Android as their saviour because it doesn’t use the GNU Public License even though it uses a free alternative. This is the problem with the FSF: they sound reasonable at first and then start to turn into crackpots before your very eyes. Remind you of a topical religion? Thetans? Sure. It’ll be midichlorians next.