Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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?'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AT&T Welcomes Programmers for All Phones Except the iPhone

Comments Filter:
  • Control I buy into, but vindictive?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bogaboga (793279)
      It's all about the money so follow it. I can't wait for the Asians to put an Apple clone onto the market. That way the iPhone will become "just another phone." Or have they patented that touch interface?
    • by StCredZero (169093) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:12AM (#20823501)
      Steve Jobs can't come right out and say this, as it can be seen as tantamount to saying that users are stupid. Security. Not on the cell network, but the iPhone as a new platform. User's can't be trusted to install their own apps!

      The big reason that Windows machines are riddled with Trojans, is that every user's process runs with the same permissions as the user, and that current systems do not allow finer-grained control over these permissions. (I removed 18 Trojans from my girlfriend's mom's computer the other day!) Stuff like this is one of the big reasons why the user experience on Windows can SUCK. (And yes, it's terrible that all iPhones have the same root password and that's already been cracked.)

      The OLPC folks are addressing this by running apps in a sandbox. There are many others thinking along these lines -- that the security model we've been using is not the right one. The current Access Control List security model was designed to keep individual users on a mainframe from interfering with each other while under the supervision of a benevolent and all-powerful root Super-User. Now, in the 21st century, essentially everyone, their mom, their grandparents, and anyone else who runs Windows as Administrator and installs programs is root.

      Think about it. There's something seriously wrong here, folks.

      Now that we are entering the era of dual and quad core computers becoming mainstream, there is no reason why we can't have more secure models like capabilities. (Especially on quad core machines, where a micro-kernel can lock itself to one processor to prevent context-switch overhead without undue loss of performance.) In order to ensure security on the iPhone, and thus retain total control of the user experience despite malicious hackers, something like sandboxes with a capability model is needed. (Capabilities without context switch overhead could also be enabled by using a VM platform like Java.)

      See Rik Farrow's Google Tech Talk [google.com] on this subject. It's over an hour, so download it and watch it while working out. It's a *fact* that we've been barking up the wrong tree security-wise.
      • Perhaps it's also worth mentioning that the initial programs written for the iPhone exploited security holes in the software? It's possible that the death of the Installer.app applications was just a side effect of a security tightening.

        Then again, that doesn't explain the ringtones, does it?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Zeinfeld (263942)
          Perhaps it's also worth mentioning that the initial programs written for the iPhone exploited security holes in the software? It's possible that the death of the Installer.app applications was just a side effect of a security tightening.

          I don't have an iPhone (yet), but I have had many PDA phones and I think Apple have made the right call here for iPhone v1.0 but they will have to change if they want iPhone v2.0 to be a success.

          The big problem with most PDA phones is that they are worthless pieces of S

      • Oh, bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SpectreBlofeld (886224) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @01:33PM (#20825673)
        It'd be trivial as hell for Apple to allow java apps that run in a sandbox. It's obviously not security that Apple's worried about.

        As with most of their products, Apple tends to dictate the user experience to an unusually high degree.

        For whatever reason.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "I removed 18 Trojans from my girlfriend's mom's computer the other day!"


        Sounds like your girlfriend's mom has been busy.
      • by tknd (979052) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @02:34PM (#20826569)

        Steve Jobs can't come right out and say this, as it can be seen as tantamount to saying that users are stupid. Security. Not on the cell network, but the iPhone as a new platform. User's can't be trusted to install their own apps!

        So you're putting the blame on the user rather than the engineer? I thought we like to put the blame on the engineer around here (example: Microsoft).

        I honestly do not think that the reason why the iphone is closed is simply due to security concerns. The reason why the iphone is closed is because cellular networks in the United States have enjoyed a monopolized control over their networks. Their biggest fear is that the cellular networks become more like the internet as it is now; a network where they are only seen as the provider to everyone else's services. Cellular networks have enjoyed making extra business by doing stupid things like selling ring tones, restricting accessible services (unless an additional cost is paid), and locking phones to their services. The basic deal with a cell phone is if you want to sell your service or software on the network, you either pay the provider or the provider hires you and pays you in a contract basis. Furthermore, once you're in, you play by the provider's rules. They dictate to you want you can or can't do.

  • Is there? Yes.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ivan256 (17499)

    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?


    My guess is that the short answer is "Yes", and the long answer is "Yes, AT&T cut them a big fat check to do exactly that."
    • Re:Is there? Yes.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by howiew (1049300) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:57AM (#20823265)
      The simple reason that the iphone software is being significantly modified with every update now. Its sill in development at apple and is a moving target for potential developers. Its very possible that they will allow developers at some point but are aware that any applications written now will likely be broken after the next update.
      • by iJed (594606)
        If that were true then surely they'd make a statement about it?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tf23 (27474) *
          Why would they? What benefit, to them, would they see if they did?

          You'd see everyone whining that the API Documentation isn't out yet, or that the provided samples aren't good enough, or simple enough, or advanced enough. Or the API doesn't match what was released w/ the last iPhone bios update. (see rolling-target-at-the-moment, above ^^).

          All of that stuff takes resources (ie money) to make it. And time.

          They're trying to do a new OS rollout. If you were Steve Jobs, and you had just rolled out the iPhone (w
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by darthflo (1095225)
        Assuming Apple aren't liars and the iPhone really runs (a slimmed down version of) OS X that would, in turns, mean they're not allowing developers to develop software for their PCs (by PC I mean "personal computer", not "x86 machine running MS Windows" as mac loonies would use it) as well?
      • by hxnwix (652290)

        The simple reason that the iphone software is being significantly modified with every update now.
        Why didn't Apple just say that? Why lie? The rationale they've offered so far suggests that Apple does not plan to open the iPhone at any point in time as doing otherwise would damage their credibility.
        • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:48AM (#20824051)

          Why didn't Apple just say that? Why lie? The rationale they've offered so far suggests that Apple does not plan to open the iPhone at any point in time as doing otherwise would damage their credibility.
          Sorry, but the price cut thing already damaged their credibility.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by hxnwix (652290)

            Sorry, but the price cut thing already damaged their credibility.
            Right, this is because Apple said that they weren't going to drop the price, right? No? Ahhh, but Apple never said that. So, by doing something expected, albeit sooner than expected, how did they damage their credibility? Oh, they didn't? Thank you.
            • I actually didn't expect quite so cynical a rip-off of early adopters. Are you saying you did?
              • by buysse (5473) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:15PM (#20824453) Homepage
                For $DEITY's sake, the freaking RAZR sold for around $500 (with contract) at launch. Three months later, it was $100. Now, it's bloody free. Should I sue because I paid money for the RAZR when I could have gotten for free later? How about the Blackberry? That used to be $500.

                Apple didn't think there was going to be a fucking backlash because this is normal fucking pricing for phones. The price drops off quickly. It's not a scam, it's standard business practice at AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc. Everybody's just pissed because Apple did it this time, and not Motorola or Nokia.

              • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

                by hxnwix (652290)

                I actually didn't expect quite so cynical a rip-off of early adopters. Are you saying you did?

                You must be referring to the $100 rebate for all early adopters, and the $200 rebate for not-so-early adopters. Man oh man, what a ripoff that was! It sure made Apple liars to drop prices while taking care of their customers! If every company acted that way, imagine the consequences... Zune owners would be able to play old tracks that they bought from Microsoft rather than being screwed and abused and Chevy owners would get a check in the mail every time the dealer knocked down prices.

                God! That would r

        • by Trillan (597339)
          Their iPhone HUIG does have a big fat "currently" in front of their "you can only develop web pages." (Too lazy to look up the exact wording, sorry. I think it's in the introduction.)
    • by drmerope (771119)
      I think it's funny that you are so certain "AT&T" is to blame for this situation. Granted _thirty_ to _forty_ years ago, AT&T was embroiled in a bit of scandal over their attempt to maintain a closed network. BUT you might recall that they eventually gave-up (or lost) that fight. Meanwhile, Apple has a rather consistent history of opposing user access to their innards of their products.

      It really shame b.c. apple is squandering good will over this. Unfortunately, the iPhone is complex enough that
      • "Net Neutrality"

        Not that I EVER cut Apple any slack (they are just as eee-vil as Sony, they just do it with more style), but AT&T are still into the "closed network" thing.

      • by ivan256 (17499)
        This guy hit the nail on the head: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=315191&cid=20824251 [slashdot.org]

        Phones with 802.11 networking are a novelty right now. It's hardly a secret that Apple could lose their share of the kickbacks from iPhone service contracts if they don't keep the phone closed like AT&T wants, and the ability to dodge per-minute charges any time you're in a fairly urban area is something AT&T would be scared to death of.
    • The main issue I can see for blocking development on the iPhone and allowing development on other phones is the fact that the iPhone has WiFi built in, So that would allow people to make Vonage SoftPhones and Skype for the iPhone. Thus allowing people to use the iPhone without having to use the Network provider. Now Apple is in the situation if they don't keep the phone locked down that far they could loose AT&T and no other provider will go with them because people will just get the phones and use it
      • by prockcore (543967)

        So that would allow people to make Vonage SoftPhones and Skype for the iPhone. Thus allowing people to use the iPhone without having to use the Network provider.


        So? My HTC Apache has wifi and there is a skype app for it... that didn't prevent cell providers from selling it with the ability to run 3rd party software out of the box.
      • by homer_ca (144738)
        AT&T already sells Windows Mobile handsets that can run Skype or a SIP softphone, although not over Wifi, so you still have to pay AT&T for a data plan. I think HTC does have some 3G+Wifi smartphones coming soon, but not for AT&T. Mobile VoIP is still not convenient enough for most users, between booting a softphone and finding a hotspot. The only time it would be worth it is if you're travelling internationally and you're determined to find a hotspot and save money. Even then it only works well
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:51AM (#20823185) Homepage Journal
    I've said from the beginning that the reason Apple's iPhone was closed to outside development was due to Apple, and not to AT&T. Apple is obsessive about controlling the end-user experience, so they don't want any third-party development on the iPhone. And what happened? I got accused of starting flamewars by rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth Mac fanbois.

    There's nothing wrong with Apple intent on the iPhone. It's their product and they can market and sell it how they see fit. If you don't like it, don't buy an iPhone.

    • I completely agree. Since the beginning of their company Apple has vociferiously protected their Intellectual Property - to the point where they refused to license their hardware designs out when IBM did for the PC AT. This hurt them alot during the 80s and 90s, but now their innovation has really paid off. They still are the company they always were - I wouldn't hold my breath and wait for them to open the iPhone.

      The problem of course is that the market has really changed since the days of the Mac SE.
      • ...to lock people out of something like this is probably going to be a mistake in the long run. But, Apple has obviously proved its critics wrong before...

        Apple never proved their critics wrong on the Mac clone thing. They refused to allow clones to their detriment (in terms of marketshare). When they finally allowed clones, it was very nearly with their dying breath because Windows on IBM clones had gained dominance by then. The Mac clones were stealing Apple's share of a very small piece of pie by then, a
        • Actually Apple did contend with clones before the Macintosh (or Lisa) was created. Apple had a large market share of the home and educational computing market with the Apple II. Eventually there were a HUGE number of Apple II clones that Apple had to compete with. Apple did not see this as beneficial since they were (and still are) primarily a hardware manufacturer.

          I'm sure memories of the Apple II clone fiasco were still fresh in Apple's mind when the idea of allowing Mac clones came around. Apple initia

    • by 31415926535897 (702314) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:38PM (#20824797) Journal
      I completely agree with you, and what proves your point is how locked down the iPod Touch is. If Apple and AT&T were truly concerned with gumming up the cell network, then Apple would have allowed development on the iPod Touch. But they've actually locked it down more. You cannot enter calendar appointments (you can only see them after a sync with iTunes), and Apple has removed various features like Google Maps, which still would have been incredibly useful through Wifi.

      For the record, I bought an iPod Touch. I feel that it was worth the purchase despite being so locked down because it is, hands down, the best iPod there is (except for the lack of hard drive space, but that doesn't concern me yet). I really wanted an iPhone, but my employer provides me with a Blackberry, so I couldn't justify another cell phone plan.

      Now that I have the iPod Touch, I hope that some day Apple opens it up for development. After surfing the web on this thing, I think it is the best pocket computer I've ever seen. I've used some small Fujitsu Lifebooks and other tablet computers, but this blows all of those away. The potential of this device is amazing, and it confuses me that Apple wouldn't want to give people every excuse to buy one. I'm not complaining about mine, it does everything I wanted it to perfectly and I'm extremely happy with it. But I also think that Apple is passing up on an amazing revenue stream because they're so obsessed with control.

    • by Rix (54095)
      Once they sell it to someone, it becomes that person's product to do with as they like.
    • I got accused of starting flamewars by rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth Mac fanbois.

      OK, then, I'll accuse you of flaming. My credentials are that the only Apple-built computer I've ever owned was an Apple IIe; I've got a MacBook Pro that I use at work, but it belongs to the company. Personally, until they issued me that laptop, I'd used nothing but Free software for six years straight, and still do most of my work that way (Emacs, Subversion, etc.). I've owned and enjoyed a couple of iPods, but I don't thi

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:52AM (#20823201)

    vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control
    I've heard Steve Jobs called a lot of things but...
    errr....
    never mind.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:54AM (#20823233)
    I remember back when Apple was going after people selling mac roms for Amiga emulators.

    Apple has always been proprietary and exercised iron-fisted control over what THEY want done with the hardware they sell for a profit. Why are the iPhone actions such a surprise?
    • by rs79 (71822)
      "I remember back when Apple was going after people selling mac roms for Amiga emulators.

      Apple has always been proprietary and exercised iron-fisted control over what THEY want done with the hardware they sell for a profit.
      "

      Holy flashback Batman.

      Amiga's could run PC software due to an add-on card with an 8088 in it called "sidecar" and a software library called "Janus". The demo was MS Flight Simulator running in an Intuiition (Hi Jimm) window.

      Mac's had a NuBus card that did the same thing. (cf. geese, gan
  • by mpapet (761907) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:57AM (#20823257) Homepage
    If they don't want people messing with their precious phone, then don't buy one. I know that won't play well in the Reality Distortion Field, but their stubborness should not be rewarded.

    Now, if it were actually the case that the service providers in the States actually wanted developers to do nifty stuff, then I think the pace of innovation on mobile phones would be quite different. Most of the wireless network providers don't want you to do neat things because that's money out of their pocket.

    If there's a benevolent provider, please speak up.
  • AT&T is innocent, Apple wants to opt for the console model on the iphone, a closed platform , for which they are going to play middle man who cashes in via the itunes shop.
    • AT&T is innocent, Apple wants to opt for the console model on the iphone, a closed platform , for which they are going to play middle man who cashes in via the itunes shop.

      Well there is certainly that, or that at this point in time the APIs are undocumented. As any developer can vouch, depending on undocumented APIs will break your program come some future system update.

      No one really knows whether Apple, in the form of Steve Jobs, is intending to open up the iPhone at some future point, but it is fair t
    • If that were the case, then why wouldn't they offer an SDK for the iPhone and set up an "iPhone App" section on iTMS?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by SoulRider (148285)
      AT&T is innocent

      My head just exploded.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Give us insane amounts of money.
    No, you can't THAT with an iPhone.
    We are going to bill you so hard you'll wish you were never born.
    No, you can't do THAT with an iPhone either
    We'll drop the price right away just to rub in what a stupid amount of money first adopters forked over
    No, no NO! stop trying to use your iPhone in any way we haven't sanctioned

    Doctor:

    Notice how the subject keeps coming back for more and thanking us for it? The next update will cause the phone to shock the user at random times. We wil
  • by yoris (776276) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:02AM (#20823349)
    The most obvious reason for me would seem to be simply avoid responsibility for the API until it is fully matured? Surely, if they were to release their API for the entire multi-touch aspect of the iPhone and iPod Touch at this point, they would be in a position where they have a lot of responsibilities:

    * extensively documenting the API for a broad base instead of only for internal usage
    * testing for possible bugs for usecases which are not relevant in Apple's internal usage
    * making it feature complete
    * making it secure
    * when upgrading the API, supporting older applications built on that API (in other words, keeping full backwards compatibility)

    All in all, this can be summed up as the basic fact that officially releasing the "mini OS X" that Apple uses on its portable devices as a development platform requires a whole different approach then simply using it themselves and not publishing it. All these responsibilities are easily avoided by simply not publishing the API and is a no-brainer if the company is on a tight deadline. Given the iPhone's short development lead time, i can fully understand that there was no time to get all of the above in order, so avoiding responsibility of the API for the time being seems like a logical thing to me.

    That said, the above reason would steer them towards a tolerance stance regarding 'hackers', while Apple seems to be leaning more towards an 'active prosecution' stance, which i considere pretty much unjustified, together with the rest of the world.
    • You left one out: The ability to sell an iPhone 2 to the early adopters. How many of the folks who waited in line for hours/days to get an iPhone will hesitate to to drop another $500 once the open iPhone 2 comes out? There is no way Apple can keep this closed forever. When there are dozens of open smart phones to choose from Apple will have no choice but to compete. History will be the judge if early being to market was worth the pissed off customers who have a $500 POS in a year.
    • by p0tat03 (985078)
      It's not as if Leopard isn't breaking existing software. Pretty much every major OSX updates breaks stuff. How hard is it for them to go "well, we're not going to document nor support the API, but if you want to play with it, knock yourself out"? I seriously doubt Apple is blocking iPhone development merely because they don't want to do support.
      • How hard is it for them to go "well, we're not going to document nor support the API, but if you want to play with it, knock yourself out"

        Isn't that pretty much what they're doing right now? There's no official API, no official access and no documentation, and Apple doesn't go out of their way to help you or work around problems which could be caused if you take advantage of undocumented, unofficial channels. About all they've said one way or another is "if you hacked your phone, don't apply the firmw

    • by Arkham (10779)
      Amazing, someone actually realizes the truth.

      Apple doesn't have API documentation, developer support, or plaform hardening in the initial release to allow for third party applications.

      I work for the world's largest phone manufacturer, and we have a very complete developer API. But it was something that was developed over time. The first phones we released may not have had an API at all, and certainly didn't have anything like what people seem to think Apple should have in their first iteration.

      Have some p
  • by Cleon (471197) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <24noelc>> on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:08AM (#20823441) Homepage
    "Apple's reasoning for keeping the iPhone a closed platform is that they don't want to 'potentially gum up the provider's network'."

    Yes, and I'm sure that's why they're keeping the iPod a closed platform, too.
  • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:10AM (#20823463)

    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?'"
    The summary is a troll. It has nothing to do with "vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control". It has to do with the fact that Apple, a publicly traded company, feels that they can make more money licensing third party apps than allowing them by default. Really, people, it's that simple.

    And, why would anyone be surprised by this? It's very much in keeping with the way Apple has done business for years and years.

    • by idontgno (624372)
      Your assessment of the summary is a bit incomplete.

      Apple's approach to platform management has, as you rightly point out, always been like this since the Macintosh era. And, as you rightly point out, it's always been about money: controlling the tollbooth into happy happy Macland.

      But dismissing "obsessive interest in control" misses an important point. "Obsessive interest in control" is the actual mechanism by which Apple guards the gates so those damn dirty hippy developers don't sneak in and litter the pr

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:11AM (#20823475) Homepage Journal
    They are selling an iphone, a way of thinking, an idea. The problem is, the cellphone market really doesn't give a shit. Apple hasn't learned that. The question becomes, who budges first? Apple or the cell phone market?

  • Apple is like the bad old IBM of yesteryear.

    Remember the bad old IBM that was incompatible with everyone else (remember EBCDIC), which you had to go through a select priesthood in order to do your job, and you had to wait three months for a trivial change to your report?

    Apple is just like that: it's a platform so complicated that you cannot develop yourself software easily, you have to put yourself at the mercy of the high priests for software that does what you want, and worse than the original bad old I

  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:12AM (#20823495)

    From the article:

    What's especially odd here is that Apple has indicated that it will eventually allow third-party developers. This is what Steve Jobs told Walt Mossberg at the D conference:

    This is a very important trade-off between security and openness. We want both. We've got good ideas, and sometime later this year, we can open it up to third-party apps, and keep security.

    And 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?

    What is especially odd is a NYT reporter creating a conspiracy story... wait I'm sorry that is normal operations at the times lately.

    But seriously, maybe the real reason that Apple is not opening the iPhone right away is something more mundane. I base this on some of the minor clues given in the above quote.

    1. The firmware API is not yet set in stone. Apple may be planning some "tweaks" to smooth over any rough edges in the firmware after releasing the phone into the wild and before publishing the currently undocumented API.

    2. They haven't formulated a plan to keep the phone secure, and allow third-party programs (Sandbox anyone?).

    3. The one thing that this article failed to mention that the other AT&T phones are handsets with limited OS installed and low data rate capabilities, and this is a smartphone with a reduced feature version of OS X installed and alledged high data rate capabilities. The point being that the iPhone is a little more complicated than a free Nokia or Motorolla phone.

    Just wanted to point out some obvious scenarios, before the mac, windows, and linux fan-bois start the flamefest.

    • by homer_ca (144738)

      other AT&T phones are handsets with limited OS installed and low data rate capabilities

      That excuse doesn't fly. The iPhone uses AT&T's EDGE network which is slower than 3G or EVDO (although faster than GPRS). Other Smartphone OSes like Palm, Windows Mobile and Symbian are just as full-featured and open to developers. I have a Moto Q that cost 100 bucks. The screen is small and battery life sucks, but it has a full QWERTY keyboard, and I can install any Windows Mobile Smartphone software I damn pleas

      • Actually you got me there. I was thinking phones as in Java2 ME phones when I wrote that comment this morning (WTF was I thinking?).

        Now that I had my morning cups of coffee, I think #3 was way off base. But not for the reasons you bring up..

        I admit #3 makes absolutely no sense due to the fact that I can by an Edge, 3G, or EVDO data card for a laptop. So if a (virus infected) windows laptop can't bring the network down, then how can a phone handset?

    • by Andy Dodd (701)
      "3. The one thing that this article failed to mention that the other AT&T phones are handsets with limited OS installed and low data rate capabilities, and this is a smartphone with a reduced feature version of OS X installed and alledged high data rate capabilities. The point being that the iPhone is a little more complicated than a free Nokia or Motorolla phone."

      The iPhone is a crippled dumphone compared to other phones sold by AT&T such as:
      AT&T 8525 (aka HTC TyTn/Hermes - now obsolete, will b
      • Well as I said to another commentor.. I don't know WTF I was thinking when I wrote #3...

        Anyway, as I also said. If a virus infected windows laptop using a EVDO datacard can't bring a network down, how can a phone headset.

        I should always wait until after the morning coffee to post on /.

  • Applicant: I'd like to program for your phones.
    Hiring Manager: Okay, what can you program on?
    Applicant: The iPhone.
    Hiring Manager: And what else?
    Applicant: Nothing, just that.
    Hiring Manager: Well, we're only hiring for non-iPhone programmers.
    Applicant: Yes, but I currently have a job.
    Hiring Manager: Uh huh...
    Applicant: And I've got a offer waiting for me at Verizon...
    Hiring Manager:WAIT! WHAT DO YOU WANT? WHEN CAN YOU START?
  • Get over it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:28AM (#20823719) Homepage
    Are people just heart broken that Apple locked down the phone so much or what? If you want to support open platforms don't give Apple your money. I don't think it was a secret before the iPhone began sales that it was going to be a closed platform. Just like anything, support what meets your needs/wants.
  • My current working theory is that there is a simple reason, a reason of omission.

    Either they plan a new real iNewton in the future with total OSX-oid support, and don't want to undercut that thunder, or they plan a de facto newton-like level of customization on the iPhone/iPod Touch line of products, but are not yet ready to deal with the developer support.

  • by mveloso (325617) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:43AM (#20823949)
    The reasons were discussed before the iBricking event, but in summary:

    1. Stability. Whenever third party apps are on your device, instability develops. Of course, sometimes the OS is unstable with no third-party apps running at all. Before the 1.1.1 firmware, Safari used to crash all the time. There haven't been a lot of reports about third party iApps being any worse behaved than the built-ins.

    2. Support. Support issues are a perennial nightmare for any platform. It was speculated that lots of Apple and AT&T's support time was for applications that weren't native. Anyone have any numbers for this?

    3. Development. It could be that the APIs are still in motion. The iBricking may be due to some bad updating; Mac OS X does have problem occasionally.

    4. Developer support. Let's face it, lots of apps on other mobile platforms are ugly as all get-out. Apple's only now released human interface guidelines for the iPhone. If it's been this long for the HIG, the real developer docs'll take even more time.

    So...there are lots of possible reasons for Apple's stance...before getting to the negatively-tinged personification excuses (control, vindictiveness, etc).
  • The Question of VoiP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by foo fighter (151863) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:49AM (#20824061) Homepage
    I have read in several places on the web, including in the comments here at /., that the reason the iPhone is closed is to prevent the development and widespread use of a VoiP app.

    In light of this article, here is my questions: do VoiP apps exist for these other phones? If so, are such apps widely used? If not, why not?

    Has a VoiP app been written for hacked iphones? If not, why not?

    I have no experience with either the iphone or unlocked gsm phones that allow third-party development because I'm on Verizon. (They are the only network provider with decent coverage over the vast swathes of non-urban areas that make up the majority of where I need a mobile phone in the US.)
    • by Fnkmaster (89084)
      In answer to your question: yes, not "widely" but they are used, the quality and consistency isn't good enough and the experience isn't in general seamless yet with a single phone number and auto-switching between VoIP mode and cell mode, yes one has - by TruPhone, who haven't released it yet since they are still working on a GUI for it
  • The current situation is a case of collateral damage. They have to lock down the development environment to prevent SIM unlocking. Letting users have a few extra applications is not a concern to Apple -- losing monthly subsidies from AT&T, on the other hand, means lost revenue.

    I suspect that there will eventually be a SDK and an Apple approved mechanism to get apps onto the phone (keep users happy and lessens the incentive to jailbreak and unlock.) Probably something like how podcasts are handled in iTu
    • Yes, this is exactly it in my opinion. Was going to write the same thing. They have said they don't care about 3rd party app development, and I believe it. The new firmware puts the iPhone in jail with some stronger locks than before to prevent SIM unlocking, for sure.

      The Touch is locked as well because it is essentially the same device. The firmware appears to be encrypted using the same key.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:53AM (#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 geekoid (135745)
      Just to note, the actual events were far more complex, both from a corporate control standpoint and from a social stand point. The FCC was right to rule that way based on the contracts and circumstances. Yes, it is clearly absurd this many years down the line.

      "...could not only bring down the network but put their linemen at risk of electrocution. "

      technically this was true. However, any phone that would result in those actions would be lost in the market.
      For example" If a phone was popular, but due to som
  • Id rather hook up with microsoft in a shady side-alley
  • It would seem that since Apple generally seems to go out of their way to think differently, they also seem to apply their different-ness to everything they branch out into. So it doesn't matter if the way mobile phones have always been this that or the other.... that unlocking phones has always been a consumer right and has never been a problem when it came to updates, upgrades or support for third-party-anything.

    Their different-thought will continue to cause problems and waves until they either exit the m
  • Experimental (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:23PM (#20824585)
    iPhone is a big experiment for Apple. Clearly, there is a lot of potential for iPhone software and services beyond what you get with it right now.

    I expect Apple prefers to keep it closed while it settles down and they see how it all pans out, to have time to see where best to take it next, and to develop and sell the new services themselves without losing out to some fleeter third-party developer.

    Consumers may have a lot to gain from an open iPhone, but I don't see that Apple does right now.

    That's just one reason though. If it were fully open and documented, the first thing people would do is throw VOIP & IM onto it, which would piss off AT&T.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Apple has *everything* to gain from an open phone. A large application ecosystem would drive business sales through the roof, since this is basically a handheld computer that's easy to use, not simply a phone. And don't even compare it to "point and pray" Windows Mobile/PocketPC!

      Apple has the potential of crushing RIM and Microsoft in the handheld market if the full capabilities of the device are unleashed.

      -b.

  • vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control

    Best mini-bio I've read yet on Steve. Goes right back to the days of the original, sealed, Macintosh box.

  • by epp_b (944299)

    "Apple's reasoning for keeping the iPhone a closed platform is that they don't want to 'potentially gum up the provider's network'.

    Oh, c'mon, they're still using that BS argument? AT&T -- where you know this statement is really coming from; like Apple could give a rip about AT&T's network -- was arguing this same malarkey decades ago before their ban on third-party phones and phone equipment was struck down. And - *gasp* - what a surprise: the PSTN network still works without a hitch today!

  • I think more than any other mobile platform out there the potential for a well-written VOIP app on the iPhone to obsolete the use of its cell function is what makes AT&T terrified. I'm pretty sure Apple is bowing to pressure for AT&T on this one.

    Imagine people buying a device that doesn't need a restrictive lock-in cell plan from the provider to make and receive calls. This is the same reason why the big telecomms don't want open access on the 700MHz band, it would kill their sacred profit cow.
  • 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,
  • I don't own an iPhone and wouldn't really want one, but I wouldn't be surprised if Apple wouldn't be planning one of its coups by waiting until next year and then releasing, along with the rumoured Netwon II an official SDK for all three touchscreen devices.

    Several things that have gone down in the general outcry about the iPhone being closed to development (escorted by a truly monumental amount of FUD, such as the claim, last night that Apple still had not released the Intel kernel sources, even though its
  • by grappler (14976) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @02:30PM (#20826519) Homepage
    I want it both ways - I want continued updates and improvements to my new mobile computer from Apple, and I want to be able to do other interesting things with my new mobile computer that fill a niche that Apple understandably wouldn't be writing software for.

    Is it unreasonable for me, an Apple customer and shareholder, to want this?

    When I'm buying a technology product, there are several factors that weigh into the decision. One is the quality of the technology. Just as important is the future outlook. Is there a good chance that missing features I want can be easily added later? Are there a lot of people, either in a company or on their own, working to improve it? Will I be able to adapt it to some niche problem that I'm working on that may not be important to most people, but is important to me?

    Apple has a great technology, but lacking those other ingredients I just can't get too excited about the whole package. In a year's time, there will be other very similar phones on the market:
    http://www.engadget.com/2007/08/29/nokias-iphone-no-seriously/ [engadget.com]

    And some of those will likely be infinitely customizable. Nokia is already running with this Apple blunder:
    http://www.nseries.com/index.html?l=campaigns,open [nseries.com]

    So Apple, am I going to feel like an idiot for buying into a closed platform when similar but open models come out from other companies?

    Barring a shift in policy of some kind, such as a released api or "binary application approval program", I am thinking it's time to get out of AAPL and think hard before buying more Apple products.
  • Openness (Score:3, Informative)

    by cybereal (621599) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @04:45PM (#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.

The end of labor is to gain leisure.

Working...