There can be no FUD

Ben Darlow accuses Bruce Schneier of spreading FUD about the iPhone.

This isn’t lock-in, it’s called choosing a product that meets your needs. If you don’t want to be tied to a particular phone network, don’t buy an iPhone. If installing third-party applications (between now and the end of February, when officially-sanctioned ones will start to appear) is critically important to you, don’t buy an iPhone. It’s one thing to grumble about an otherwise tempting device not supporting some feature you would find useful; it’s another entirely to imply that this represents anti-libertarian lock-in. The fact remains, you are free to buy one of the many other devices on the market that existed before there ever was an iPhone.

Ben, I’m not sure how it’s possible for “lock-in” to exist, if that’s your necessary condition for it. That’s got nothing to do with iPhones. Don’t like how Microsoft lock you in with Exchange and Outlook? You should have chosen different mail programs. Don’t like how you’ve been locked into the iTunes Music Store because you’ve got an iPod? You should have bought a different music player. Don’t like how you’ve been locked in to anything? Shoulda bought something else, dude. Lock-in doesn’t exist. We are never forced to do anything. We have always been at war with Eurasia.

Your iPhone comes with a complicated list of rules about what you can and can’t do with it. (Schneier)

Now I’ve been looking through the exquisitely arranged packaging that mine came in and I’m still struggling to find that list! Perhaps it’s written in black smallprint on the underside of the lid? You know, the lid that’s black?

Nope, it’s better than that. It comes with a complicated list of rules about what you can and can’t do with it and you’re not allowed to see the list. For one example: you can use your Bluetooth headset to make calls but not listen to music. That’s a rule: I’d actually prefer it if it said that on the box, but it doesn’t. You get to buy it and then find out that it doesn’t work, or you get to research all the things you might want to do online first. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone’s a lovely device; it’s pleasurable to hold and enjoyable to use, which is not something you can say about very many bits of electronic equipment at all. For 90% of the people who want it and don’t want anything more, it’s perfect; it’ll read their email, browse the web, and make phone calls. The complaints that people who complain about it have pretty much boil down to how arbitrary-seeming the restrictions are. What was all that crap about how iPhone-native apps might overwhelm the cell network, eh? Since the iPod touch also needs jailbreaking, that was clearly bullshit. Still, apps are coming, so perhaps that’ll make it all better. There are plenty of people who hate the iPhone, and Apple, way more than they deserve, but there are equally plenty of people who flat-out refuse to hear a word against the device or anything else that comes out of Cupertino. If you’re somewhere in the middle ground on this, like most people are, and you’re prepared to put up with the restrictions that Apple put on you to get the good experience they provide, you go for it. If you get fucked, then that’s the way it is, but hey: sometimes being fucked is nice. That’s why the human race still exists, after all.

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