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.
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.
*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.