Trading masters

The iPhone release here in Japan has already suckered — oops, I mean, won over a few people I know locally, who have been showing off their US$300 phones and the features they find amusing.

I’m afraid I just don’t understand it. That, along with the occasional iTunes for Linux frenzy that I see here and there in the forums, and I wonder what the attraction is.

Personally, I wouldn’t buy an iPhone here or anywhere else — or for that matter an iPod or a Mac computer. To me it would be trading one master for another, leaving the pervasive corporate evil of Microsoft for the sly marketing evil of Apple. How is a different shape, a different color or a different EULA somehow worth more money?

It escapes me. I will concede the Jobsian contingent is innovative and clever — I’ve said that before, and I don’t detract it. But an overpriced, (comparatively) underfeatured phone is still an overpriced, (comparatively) underfeatured phone*, and a music player with file compatibility restrictions is still a music player with file compatibility restrictions, and a computer with proprietary, closed-source software and licensing restrictions is still a computer with proprietary, closed-source software and licensing restrictions.

None of those things is anything I’m interested in. I have family members who are quite happy with their Apple products … of course one is just easily impressed by useless flash, and instantly buys anything stylish or new — a marketing intern’s dream, really. My distaste for that kind of reckless consumerism probably taints my opinion of Apple on the whole.

But I think at the ground level, since my conversion to free software and open-source mentality, there’s no appeal in going back. A co-worker recently bought a Mac that runs the games he wants to play; that’s fine, he’s happy. My mother owns an iPod and it works great for her; that’s fine too, she’s happy. Other family members own Apple products just because they’re cool; that’s … their decision, they’re happy.

But I doubt I’ll own one ever, unless I spot one in a secondhand store, in the basket with the leftover optical mice. Until then, I’ll keep my old Pentium III, my rather bland cellphone and my XO-1, which is as close as I can get right now to a portable music player. :D

*Some of my Japanese friends say that their phones already do everything the iPhone does, and in some cases do more, with only the flashier graphics as a caveat. I can’t attest to that; my own phone is rather simple, but that’s just because I prefer it that way. I can tell you that the phone I owned while living in the U.S. was pitifully underfeatured compared to some of the things that can be done with phones here in Japan.

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6 Responses to “Trading masters”


  1. 1 James 2008/07/15 at 4:57 PM

    Yeah, you Japanese people get all the fun technology before we do. :-(

    Over here in the US however, it’s a really big deal because there weren’t any phones even remotely similar which worked on US networks before the iPhone came along.

    US Cell-phone providers are still rather strict, boring, and monolithic; but now the iPhone has also opened up the doors for Google and friends to have a fighting chance with Android. Even if one don’t like the iPhone specifically, Apple’s success is actually doing a world of good for cell phone network openness over here. :-)

  2. 2 Raden Mu'az 2008/07/15 at 7:42 PM

    Uhh… We only buy/use stuff that we really need with no unwanted feature.

    For instance,
    I use:
    Windows for games, MS Word, etc,
    Mac because it is cool, Unix, multimedia, virusless, etc,
    Linux because it is free and its outstanding customizability desktop.
    AMD because Intel is boycotted product although it is lamer(http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-intel.html)
    ATi because it is cheaper than NVIDIA and I’m not hardcore gamer,
    etc etc etc

  3. 3 nugnuts 2008/07/15 at 11:10 PM

    Remember back in the day when you didn’t have to wait for your phone to boot up before using it?

  4. 4 xabbott 2008/07/16 at 6:57 AM

    The iPhone isn’t just a phone anymore. It’s probably one of the best mobile computers. It’s easy to use and works very well.
    The vast majority will never care about software freedoms, until you realize that you may never understand.

  5. 5 Luca 2008/07/18 at 3:04 PM

    Nugnuts: Im afraid Im not that old, and even so I beg to differ! My first phone was an old Motorola from 1998, that too forever to load up, next was a V525 which was a bit quicker and now I have an LG Prada which just works after showing the splash screen for a couple of seconds – even so I get your point, phones today have everything and more, whats wrong with a phone that just lets you talk and possibly even text?

  6. 6 Murali Dhanakoti 2008/09/03 at 6:10 AM

    As a recent defector from Open Source Software camp, I would like to say overt OSS affiliation is no different from Mac
    fanboyism. Both groups are missing an important point: a vast majority of people choose technology products based on their needs and not for idealogical/image reasons. I need a piece of software that lends a helping hand and if there is a software that does it and does it well, I don’t mind paying for it. This is the way commerce has evolved, you pay for the service or product you wish to have. I would much rather pay and have peace of mind instead of spending endless hours tweaking stuff that only the creator of the software has a good understanding about. Maybe there are folks who prefer to get their hands dirty, I wish them well, but when they look down upon me for not wishing to do what they do, I cannot help but be amused at their amateurishness.

    Along these lines, iphone is an excellent product, it does exceedingly well what it is supposed to do. Overpriced? may be, but I don’t have any qualms about paying more for a phone which is genuinely useful and the fact that it is eons ahead in usability compared to my other old (Nokia) phones.


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