iPhone Begins

So new iPhone owners have had a weekend to try out the new toy, and reading through the feedback online, I can’t help but feel just a bit of schadenfreude at the plight of those who thought the misery of being locked into a two-year contract with AT&T would be worth the joy of using a first-generation Apple mobile device.


Photomatt: 16 hours.

Thomas Hawk: 31 hours.

Declan McCullagh: 39 hours.

Other people: still waiting, waiting, waiting.

As we can see, activation of iPhone buyers’ AT&T accounts is turning out to be an issue, and problems now abound, with some users waiting as long as two days to get service — or to still not have service, even after multiple aggrieved waits on hold for useless conversations with support reps. Rogue Amoeba seems to have had better luck, but only after finding out that his activation had to be done manually, and that someone had failed to click on an “ACTIVATE” button. TUAW details some of the hoops to jump through to get service, but it’s pretty clear this is definitely not a case of “It just works.”

“6079 Smith W.! Yes, you!”

Even disregarding customer service issues, the problem of AT&T’s opposition to net neutrality and citizens’ basic rights to privacy are still a looming factor: see this ActForChange petition to Steve Jobs, which also covers phone lock-in, which I regard as plain and simple sabotage. Why Apple fans would so willingly fork over so much cash for a closed, crippled device serviced by an unethical provider is beyond me.

“It’s a Feature.”

iPhone lacks a clipboard. What the hell. My Nokia 6600 can do copy and paste. My Palm Z22 and IIIxe can do copy and paste. How could this have slipped by Apple? And have you tried typing a secure non-dictionary password with that keyboard?

And as I rudely discovered last Saturday, while the phone has a camera, there’s no immediately apparent way to send photos via anything other than email. No sending via infrared, bluetooth, or MMS — all basic methods of transfer available on just about any other phone for ages.

Other Stuff

Ending With the Good

But let us not be a wet blanket, but rather focus on the good. The iPhone’s prime strength is in Safari, and pending cut-and-paste functionality it should be a major boon to anyone who needs a full-featured standards-compliant browser and internet connection on-hand at all times.

And remember, this is a first-generation Apple device. This iPhone may be to mobile communications what the the first iPod was to portable music. Expect improvements, if Apple can manage to rise above the sludge and mire that is the U.S. telecom industry.

In closing, I give you Sunday’s Opus. Apparently iPhone 2 will have “DTT.”


  1. Steven Andrew Miller says:

    What “citizens’ basic rights” is AT&T opposing?

    Is “net neutrality” a right now?

    I’m confused.

  2. It’s a right that the citizens of the world currently possess, and many of them take it for granted, just as they regard the right to crochet or waterski. It is true that the idiotic founding fathers failed to codify it, but that doesn’t detract from its value. In today’s world it is a basic right.

  3. Paulo says:

    If you read my wording, net neutrality is distinguished from citizens’ basic rights to privacy, so I refer to net neutrality not as a basic right but as a preference, and not as a law but as a philosophy of providing internet service.

    If AT&T wished, they could block iPhone users from accessing Google in favor of AT&T search and mail only, and iPhone users would be helpless to do anything against it — they would not be able to change services owing to lock-in. If AT&T decided to start charging Google and Wikipedia extra bucks for use of bandwidth, where would that leave the internet? Internet users should actively oppose the telecoms attempting to moderate internet traffic in favor of their own profits when their users are already paying exorbitant rates for substandard service in comparison to the rest of the world. That’s why I pity the iPhone user who is locked in to AT&T’s service, and that’s why I favor regulation to make the telecoms to play fair in a field devoid of the competition which would encourage them to do so.

  4. Steven Andrew Miller says:

    iPhone users would be helpless to do anything against it

    No one is helpless Paulo. You demonstrated this when you chose not to buy an iPhone. If AT&T started doing these things (blocking Google, etc) people who cared would stop using AT&T.

    I agree that buying a “locked” phone is a silly thing to do, but apparently a lot of people don’t think it is, or that it is worth it to have the iPhone.

    But I disagree that regulation is needed. While more competition would be better, it is hyperbolic to say the industry is devoid of competition.

    Just as iTunes started out as Mac only, Apple wanted to expand its sale of music and iPods so it came out with a version for Windows. It does not seems unlikely that a third or fourth generation iPhone will work with another network, as Apple will need more people to sell to if it wants to continue to grow.

    Regulation stifles things. What if AT&T’s EDGE Network, which almost everyone agrees sucks, was the technology that was codified (that is to say made the standard) in to law? Instead Sprint, Version and AT&T all have their own data networks, and in the end which ever network is better will win.

  5. Paulo says:

    Ah, that explains why deregulated U.S. telecom and broadband are so far ahead of the rest of the world.

  6. Steven Andrew Miller says:

    I don’t think that article proves what you think it does.

    As the article says itself:

    “Most countries ranked above the U.S. in the OECD study are smaller with denser populations that are more easily networked.”

    You are comparing countries like South Korea (Pop. ~50 Mil), Netherlands (Pop. ~41 Mil), and Denmark (Pop. ~5 Mil) with the United States (Pop. ~300 Mil). Not really Oranges and Oranges.


    “Robert Litan, senior economic fellow at the Brookings Institution, expressed reservations about government programs like that in Korea. “I’m skeptical about subsidies,” said Litan. “Especially now that there’s increasing competition — the phone companies are really competing with the cable companies — markets are encouraging natural growth. And in a few years there will be wireless broadband, which will drive prices down.””

    So as I said in my last comment, having the government pick one technology over another is a bad idea. It would be a bad idea for the government to sink billions in to old tech like DSL, which would discourage the development of new tech like WiMAX and others.

    In fact, you can look at the OECD’s June 2006 report, the most recent posted on their website, here: OECD Broadband Statistics to June 2006

    You can look at the numbers and see several things.

    1. You can see that the total number of subscribers, the only country to come close to the United States with 56.5 million is Japan with less than half as many, 24.2 million.
    2. The report breaks down subscribers by service type (DSL/Cable/Other). You can see the distribution in the US much more even, whereas in the countries who top the list DSL dominates. I can only speculate this has to do with subsidies and regulation that discourage other broadband services. Does that really seem ideal to you? Ties to DSL, a very old technology?

    Government has never, ever, anticipated the needs of the market (i.e. consumers) and it won’t start now. The same people who were unable to have FEMA get water to NOLA won’t be able to get broadband from your home.

    Pretinda Generes, you may want to read up on “Negative liberty.”

  7. Paulo says:

    Yes, yes, I agree it’s a bad idea for governments to enforce technical protocols and standards it knows nothing about. But at the same time a government whose duty is the defense of freedom should be able to step in to protect people’s freedom to access content equally in a context where all available competing connectivity providers may try to restrict paying customers from that access. I would feel differently in the presence of real, conscientious competition, but when all the lines in my part of the city are Verizon’s, then I’d like someone above to be able to say “No” to them if they try to limit my access unfairly.

    And at no point did I advocate that government should require only one telecom protocol. Where’d you pull that from?

    Well, there goes another post of mine derailed by free market obfuscation.

  8. Wait, Paulo, did you quote 1984 in this post? Second addendum to Goodwin’s law; 1984 == the nazi’s.