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Programming Businesses Communications Handhelds IT Technology Apple Hardware

AT&T Welcomes Programmers for All Phones Except the iPhone 283

Posted by Zonk
from the come-out-and-play dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple's reasoning for keeping the iPhone a closed platform is that they don't want to 'potentially gum up the provider's network'. An article in the New York Times, though, points out that there are hundreds of phones out there working on open platforms that don't seem to be causing network interference. AT&T and Palm, in fact, welcome experimentation on their platforms. In AT&T's case ... on every phone but the iPhone. 'Hackers who have explored the workings of the phone say it uses the frameworks and structures that Apple uses on its other platforms to enable development; it just hasn't been documented. So if Apple is going to allow applications later, is there any reason -- other than vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control -- that it would want to cut off those developed by the pioneers who figured things out ahead of the official launch?'"
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AT&T Welcomes Programmers for All Phones Except the iPhone

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  • Re:vindictiveness? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @09:58AM (#20823275) Homepage
    Already there.

    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/cellphones/meizu-m8-pricing-revealed-most-affordable-iphone-clone-yet-241069.php [gizmodo.com]

    as well as many others. I have touched one of the cooler ones that accepts 2 sim cards. I love it when some of the international sales people come back from HongKong with neat toys.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:21AM (#20823633)
    Just so you know, IBM did not license out the PC AT. IBM used off the shelf products for almost every part of the PC. Compaq reverse-engineered the only piece that was not off the shelf. IBM ended up not suing because they were a 'Big Iron' company at the time and saw the PC as a way for users to connect to the mainframe. In otherwords, the PC was a not-so-dumb terminal.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:53AM (#20824125) Homepage
    To anyone my age, the bogeyman of "network interference" instantly calls to mind Ma Bell and all the reasons she gave why nobody but AT&T could be trusted with an RJ-11 jack.

    Actually, it predated the RJ-11 jack.

    Here we go:

    The New York Times, February 17, 1951, p. 30: Phone Company Upheld In Ban on Hush-a-Phone

    The Hush-A-Phone was a simple cup-like acoustic isolation device that snapped onto a telephone handset and provided a measure of privacy and quiet. No wires, no electrical connection. The phone company banned it as a "foreign attachment." In the Times story, the FCC agreed such devices were subject to A. T. & T. control. The punch line:

    "Unrestricted use of the device could, in the commission's opinion, result in a general deterioration of the quality of telephone service."

    Yes, seriously.

    Later, the phone company was to claim that wired connections to third-party devices (answering machines and, later, modems) could not only bring down the network but put their linemen at risk of electrocution. Anyone who wanted to connect a computer had two choices: buy a very pricey "Dataphone"--never sold, of course, but leased by the month--or buy a third-party modem anduse a pricey phone-company-supplied "Data Access Arrangement" device, which was never sold but only leased by the month.

    It took decades to get the FCC to agree that it had the regulatory authority to set specifications for third-party interconnects, and to allow them.

    I recall an amusing Racal-Vadic advertisement showing "Ma Bell" depicted as a grandmotherly figure, staring out of her window in horror at a huge dump truck pouring hundreds of DAA boxes onto her lawn, now that Racal-Vadic modems no longer needed them.

  • by elhaf (755704) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:26PM (#20825557) Homepage
    AT&T has actively discouraged third-party developers for all phones since way back in the old Cingular days. Have you ever seen how locked-down the J2ME model is on Cingular/AT&T phones? One cannot connect to bluetooth (at all) unless the app is signed by a Cingular Preferred certificate. Guess how many third-party developers have a pre-existing relationship and/or can get one, to get their app signed? If you guessed that even Google doesn't sign [blogspot.com] their apps and pays the price in user functionality, you guessed correctly.
  • Openness (Score:3, Informative)

    by cybereal (621599) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @03:45PM (#20828639) Homepage
    There is no valid technical reason for desiring closed platforms. There is a totally valid business concern, and it's not simply forcing customers into certain directions. I agree that this is an opportunity granted by a closed platform, but the real benefit for the business is significant reduction of variables to deal with when moving forward with fixes, new features, and so forth. Because Apple has taken the income over time, they are practically bound to add features. After the first two years or so, don't be surprised if the strict closed platform nature of the iPhone is relaxed significantly.

    Also, for those bent on arguing the legality of such things, keep in mind that as a privately held network, AT&T has no requirements to allow devices access to its network if it doesn't want to. Currently, they allow zero devices without a contract or signed agreement of some kind, and in that contract they can easily apply device restrictions even if they seem ludicrous. Until this is actually challenged in a real court case (read: not class action fappery) then there is no reason to believe there are grounds to suggest the actions are unlawful. It's more practical to simply avoid the network entirely. Avoid the iPhone entirely.

    Unless you have a significant Apple investment it's not the end-all be-all phone. The next generation of Nokias have as good of a browser (rendering-wise, it's based on the same KHTML engine) and have been open platforms for years. I use an iPhone because I have a strong library of media coming from iTMS, I don't really care about open platforms for my phone at this point. I did for a while, even developing for Symbian myself, but that time has come and gone.

    However, if the situation was different, I don't even know why I would look at the iPhone. It's shiny sure, but it's not THAT amazing, the Nokia E90 is a lot cooler of a device imho. The iPhone's touch screen is ok, but hardly groundbreaking. Two touch senses at once... so? The pinching gesture gives me hand cramps, and even with all the smarts I still fat finger things all the time. With a keypad interface that's designed for interface and situation appropriate limits (i.e. single handed use in keypad mode of S60 phones) it's far faster and easier to navigate than a touchscreen. The learning curve is higher, yes, but that's not a problem, especially not for the target audiences.

    So let us recognize the reality, and put your jealous tendencies aside for a moment. Realize that the iPhone, while technically interesting, is an embedded, developer unfriendly, locked down media device. It's not a portable computer, it's not a PDA. It's nothing more than exactly what it's advertised as being and that's what Apple intends. Why should we expect more from it? There are other companies offering what you want. Don't be so Apple obsessed.

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