My decision to jump into the iPhone fray a couple months back possibly has more to do with fear of death (ok, maybe just cultural obsolescence), than expectation of functional return (never mind fiscal sensibility). Its a dumb thing to do from a personal point of view, shifting oneself from a calls-round-to-free world into a communication domain that makes sense for most people only when their employer pays the tab. Crackberries are a corporate habit more than a personal foible, and worthwhile for those in need of that sort of accessibility. I'm not one of them. My wife smirks and likens the iPhone to talking into a calculator. She's generally right about such things.
I loathe the New AT&T, as its the same as the old AT&T, except more avaricious. Yeah, no one loves their carrier, especially given that their allegiance to government surveillance programs is assuredly far stronger than their loyalty to customers. And now, with Verizon deciding what is appropriate content in texting... well, it boggles the mind. Good thing America is on guard, protecting liberty, huh?
But I digress. The explanation for Apple's unholy alliance with AT&T is undoubtedly a tangle of newcomer's dues and Machiavellian corporate machinations, leaving consumers holding multiple, inscrutable user agreements beyond cipher... and exclusive until 2012! It is hard to imagine any measure of user satisfaction emerging from such virulent anti-consumer practices. [postscript: NYTs blog on the hacking war]
Imagine my surprise when the expected buyer's remorse never showed up. I love the iPhone. There are lots of things it does really well, and a few things that are so goofy you can't believe they aren't being fixed in the next software update (there have been several). But no... it isn't the (admittedly minor) problems with the phone they are fixing, but rather going after the hackers who are opening up the phone. Isn't that AT&T's role?
I took my phone to Singapore for DC-2007, and in order to avert the danger of quiet, unintended , and expensive data uploading, I removed the sim card, and just used it as a WiFi device. It is quite good as such, and makes immediately evident the future of such gadgets that are primarily web-enabled devices and only secondarily carrier devices. A calculator with Skype. No wonder AT&T is paranoid. They should be, as the promise of networks being more open is a serious threat to their business model. The fact that Apple aids and abets such foolishness is disappointing though. Apple should be working overtime at making these phones more useful, not further crippling them. So, you can download a YouTube video, but try watching something as simple as a FlickR slideshow on the so-called open platform of iPhone Safari. Ha!
So, its not the Web, as Apple and AT&T would have you believe, its the Web that doesn't threaten their stranglehold, and thats not a model that will hold up. The iPhone is indeed a revolutionary technology, slick, stylish, even joyful. I love mine. But I can't wait for what supplants it.
Image: palm frond on Bintan beach in Indonesia.