Apples and Orifices

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on September 28, 2007

At the D Conference in May, 2006, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, explaining why Apple would not get into the handset business, famously denounced wireless carriers as “orifices” that choked the flow on choice and innovation. Yesterday, Apple completed its conversion into an orifice.

The company released an update to iPhone software that not only relocks phones whose software had been modified to allow use with carriers other than AT&T but also disables any third-party applications that iPhone owners had installed. Relocking phones was unfortunate but understandable. Apple’s deal with AT&T gives it a share of the revenues the carrier gets from iPhone owners. furthermore AT&T was undoubtedly putting a lot of pressure on Apple to crack down. Breaking third-party apps, however, was simply unconscionable. Apple had warned that they might do this and having done it, offered no explanation.

Apple almost certainly acted within its legal rights and threats of class-action lawsuits are mostly angry hot air. But just because you can legally do something doesn't make it a good idea and Apple may come to rue this action. For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, Apple enjoys fanatical loyalty from its customers despite behavior that sometimes borders on the thuggish (in my book, the kind of great products that Apple has been turning out wins them respe3ct, but no love.) The company had already irritated its most loyal customers, the sort of folks who would stand in line for hours to buy the first iPhones, by slashing the price by $200 barely two months after it went on sale. This latest move to stamp out the sort of choice and innovation that Apple claims to want, is likely to alienate the loyalists even more.

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Reader Comments

Niko

October 1, 2007 03:08 AM

Oh my God, don't say that about Apple!!! They are saving the world, you know ...

It's just business, they just another company, that's all.

gulfbridge

October 1, 2007 09:25 AM

Apple is going to find it hard to maintain the iPhone mojo in other markets where it is normal for customers to be able to buy unlocked phones, if they so wish, which they can then use on any network of their choosing. In fact, I am puzzled why US regulatory authorities look kindly on this sort of anti-competitive action in their own market.

As someone who hates being tied to cell service contracts, I always prefer to buy such an unencumbered phone which I can then connect to any network as I choose, especially while travelling on business internationally.

iPhones? No thanks. Might just wait for the competition to bring out something comparable which is much more useful to me. Probably cost me a lot less too. I'd strongly urge everybody out there to do the same. Much better than having Mr. Jobs insert an iPhone into your iOrifice, don't you think?

JohnJ

October 1, 2007 11:02 AM

It's about time that Apple Fans wake up to the fact that Steve Jobs has always been a ruthless control freak.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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