This post is going to be a whole bunch of Apple whoring and hating at the same time. If you find the whole thing irrelevant then please, move right along ;-).
Ever since the launch of the Apple iPod Touch, I’ve owned once since December 2007, had it repaired once, but still a device of the same generation (1st Gen). It’s a great little device for what it is worth, I have found it incredibly useful as a music player (for which it has transformed me into a total music buff) and as an internet device. I don’t really use it for much else. But the nature of the air seems to be telling me that it’s time to move on to something more open.
I’ll save most of my concerns for Apple for another blog post (which will be far more interesting than this one), but the general feeling is this: Apple has been super-monetizing their industry since mid-2007 and has gone totally downhill. They’ve reported their most profitable quarter yet.
I guess the most interesting thing about the scene was Jailbreaking. I was on 1.1.1 at the time and jailbreaking was as easy as pointing your device at a website. Apple’s locked it down a bit since then, now exploits must be done at the non-rewritable firmware level. I have a lot of respect for the iPhone Dev Team and Chronic-Dev for this.
The best thing about Jailbreaking was that it gave you total freedom. And there was a community that really enjoyed this total freedom, there were free and sometimes open-source applications distributed through an (although closed source) Installer.app. People were beginning to write an API, everything was going well. It was reminiscent of the current Linux scene we have today.
Then came system 2.0. System 2.0, as you probably know introduced the App Store which introduced the ‘Apple’ model for iPhone hacking. It was no longer about community spirit but rather $$$. How much money could you make out of the iPhone. Apple gets a 30% cut. Quick everyone, make an iPhone app, they are profitable! Soon, lots of developers left the community scene in pursuit of bigger dreams of making money on the App Store. I don’t blame them – If developers want to be paid, developers should be paid. The only problem is that creating an environment where hacking turns into a buisness where rather than empowering users you are now making them subservient to you ruins the community.
Apple of course, was ridiculously draconian. No NC-17, No Emulators, No Turn by Turn GPS, No this, No that. Probably the biggest two were no executing arbitrary code and no background processes. That eliminates 99% of potential applications that could improve the iPhone/iPod Touch itself. Developers new to the scene found this really annoying and quickly found the much larger jailbreak audience, which Apple continues to try and mistakenly plug up. Of course, these developers are used to the ‘Pay me for my software’ model rather than ‘I’ll give a bit to the community and let it grow’ model that open source software provides. The jailbreak distribution model then picked up this model to accomadate these developers. Soon the other ‘hacker culture’ developers noticed and started using this model.
Now what this has done is alienate the very users who came together for the sake of freedom on a restricted platform. Anything mildly useful is now a pay-for app buried amongst 1000s of not-so-useful themes. Even developers of previously FOSS applications are negotiating with their original copyright owners to close source them and licence the software so they can make a profit. It’s an absolute mess. Abusing the community that created you. As a user of this software, I am now alienated because it’s not possible to pay for it unless you are over 18 years of age (credit card needed).
I’ve been looking at a Maemo based phone (N900) for a while now. Hopefully that will stay open…..