Suppose you booted up your computer one morning and found that none of your applications worked because you didn't buy them from the Dell app store. Or maybe you tried to start your car and found that the ignition was locked because you didn't buy your new starter from the Toyota parts store. You'd be mad as hell, of course.
So why do we allow Apple, AT&T, Sprint, and the like to tell us whose apps we can run on our iPhones, and whose (overpriced) networks we can access with our devices and software?
[ For a look at the best mobile apps for the iPhone, see "iPhone applications get down to business." ]
Enough already. The great irony is that a quarter of a century after the breakup of the AT&T monopoly and well into age of Web 2.0, the carriers and the equipment makers are acting just like the old analog Ma Bell.
If you're a regular InfoWorld reader or a developer, you're probably savvy enough to know that unlocking or "jailbreaking" an iPhone to get past Apple's restrictions is not hard. So why should you care? Here's one big reason: Apple's stubborn refusal to open the platform and the implied threat of legal action against those who circumvent its rules make it difficult for developers -- who already have problems doing business with the App Store -- to attract the kind of capital they need to build and market better applications.
The current rules also place an unreasonable burden on IT staffs, which have to connect each corporate iPhone to a PC or Mac running iTunes to load proprietary business applications they have developed for internal use. Ridiculous.
Legalizing the iPhone jailbreak
For the first time in years, the United States is going to have an FCC chairman who isn't in thrall to the special interests and is thus likely to use his position to do more than protect monopolies.
President Obama has nominated Julius Genachowski to the post, and by all accounts, he's likely to at least lend a sympathetic ear to the growing list of organization lining up against exclusive arrangements like the Apple/AT&T partnership and the locking of cell phones.