foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world

5 reasons not to buy an iPhone 3G

, posted: 12-Jul-2008 08:56

Just in time for all the hype surrounding the release of the new iPhone 3G, the Free Software Foundation gives us 5 reasons not to buy it. From the article:
  • iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can't be on everyone's phones.
  • iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.
  • iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.
  • iPhone won't play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.
  • iPhone is not the only option. There are better alternatives on the horizon that respect your freedom, don't spy on you, play free media formats, and let you use free software -- like the FreeRunner.
The article then goes on to explain these things in more detail. An interesting read.

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Comment by DaveB, on 12-Jul-2008 11:12

The only good thing about the iPhone is that it looks good ... somewhat akin to manicured nails and nice clothes on a piece of mutton dressed up as lamb! 

It is a fashion accessory for a lot of people and hey, if one wants to spend money on fashion ......

Comment by Adam, on 12-Jul-2008 11:30

On the front page of - Nice work Foobar!

Comment by KevDaly, on 12-Jul-2008 14:16

I am rather tired of the way the Free Software Foundation have given themselves the right to redefine the common English word "free".
Very Alice In Wonderland.

Comment by jermsie, on 12-Jul-2008 17:39

The FreeRunner looks chunky and doesn't have anywhere near the same amount of sleekness as with the iPhone, especially in the UI. The problem with opensource is (including linux OS), there aren't corporate bodies that keep an eye on design continuity and ease of use. Developers of free open source software are really on their own so there's this mish mash of buggy.. feature/functionality lacking programs and devices.

Author's note by foobar, on 12-Jul-2008 18:11

@jermsie: I wouldn't generalise like this. Overall, though: Yes, because open source is usually made up of many independent projects, one of their biggest concerns (at least for end-user applications) has been to keep a common theme and look and feel for the GUI.

As far as missing drivers: You do know that Linux supports more hardware than Windows, don't you? The question is whether it always supports the latest new thing which is being released, since the vendors of those devices tend to provide drivers first for Windows. It's slowly changing, though.

As far as buggy: It's not like we have never seen bugs in proprietary software before, right?

With Apple controlling the hardware and software side of its devices, it certainly is in a position to provide a very slick and unified interface. But even Apple software is not bug free.

Here is a read you might find interesting. In your response you didn't at all comment on the one feature that the FSF (and many others) find most sorely lacking from the iPhone and other such devices: Freedom! You are locked in anywhere you turn. And because for many people freedom is more important that the sleekest possible design the free alternative will win, because it is "better" (in that respect). Seriously, who cares about the best design in the world if the device takes away my freedom to do with my data as I please?

Some people don't attach much value to their freedom, so they can go ahead and buy an iPhone. It's as simple as that.

Author's note by foobar, on 12-Jul-2008 18:13

@KevDaly: Yeah, that redifinition of terms is a bit strange at times. We all get what they see wrong with DRM, and we know they want to make a point. Sigh... that's one of RMS' quirks, I guess. That's somethig to look past, though. It shouldn't distract us from their important message.

Comment by Doug Whitfield, on 16-Jul-2008 09:25

@KevDaly FSF isn't redefining free, they are simply using an already established definition. Example: "I let the people in the jail go free, but it cost them $20 a piece."

Comment by peter roberts, on 30-Jan-2010 12:41

"iphone exposes your whereabouts"

is this true ??

foobar's profile

New Zealand

  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.

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