February 8 2008

With Bruce Schneier, ‘Commentary’ Is Code for ‘FUD’

When are we going to be done with this relentless iPhone-bashing? Now it’s the turn of respected technology and privacy advocate, Bruce Schneier. Only it appears he’s been tugging on some bad shit and came up with a bad case of the heebie-jeebies.

Buying an iPhone isn’t the same as buying a car or a toaster.

Much the same as buying an umbrella isn’t the same as buying a house or a rifle. Next?

Your iPhone comes with a complicated list of rules about what you can and can’t do with it.

Now I’ve been looking through the exquisitely arranged packaging that mine came in and I’m still struggling to find that list! Perhaps it’s written in black smallprint on the underside of the lid? You know, the lid that’s black?

You can’t install unapproved third-party applications on it.

yet. Bruce himself acknowledges this in the final paragraph of his article, but not before parping out a stinky cloud of FUD.

A software update released in September 2007 erased unauthorized software and — in some cases — rendered unlocked phones unusable. “Bricked” is the term, and Apple isn’t the least bit apologetic about it.

In other news, Honda is refusing to honour warranties on Priuses modified by enterprising motorists to function as makeshift amphibious vehicles.

This isn’t lock-in, it’s called choosing a product that meets your needs. If you don’t want to be tied to a particular phone network, don’t buy an iPhone. If installing third-party applications (between now and the end of February, when officially-sanctioned ones will start to appear) is critically important to you, don’t buy an iPhone.

It’s one thing to grumble about an otherwise tempting device not supporting some feature you would find useful; it’s another entirely to imply that this represents anti-libertarian lock-in. The fact remains, you are free to buy one of the many other devices on the market that existed before there ever was an iPhone.