A plea to Steve

37 Comments

Not that it will be delivered, but I just sent an email to Steve Jobs:

Steve (or his assistant, secretary, mail reader, etc.),

I have been a devout Apple fanatic for years. I was just about to give up on Apple when you came back. I used the IIe, Classic, LC, Quadra, Powermac, PowerPC, and now Intel Macbook Pro and iMac.

My wife and I both have iPhones. I waited in line 10 hours to get them and was still thrilled when you reduced the price of the iPhone to $399 because I was one of the first people to have one. I love the device too… it’s a magnificent breakthrough in technology. I even switched to AT&T months before the iPhone launch (shortly after the MacWorld Keynote) to be ready when it hit.

HOWEVER… There are many things lacking on the iPhone. No to-do list application, voice notes, sketch pad, games, finder, SSH, text editor, chat, etc. I was excited to hear that it was very easy to develop for the iPhone despite the lack of an SDK on Apple’s part. I was sure the overly-simplistic security on the initial iPhones was intentional, possibly an omen of a forthcoming SDK.

I also understand your frustration with hackers trying to unlock the iPhone to take to other carriers. I am happy with AT&T, and understand the relationship you have with them. Both of you spent a lot of money, time and resources developing the iPhone and the two go together (for the time being). I completely understand your obligation (both contractual and otherwise) to keep the iPhone carrier-locked.

But here’s what I DON’T understand. Why, are you going out of your way to thwart third-party software development? The iPhone is a great device, but it can be a REVOLUTIONARY device. Apple can’t possibly release all the applications users will want. Why limit yourselves and your customers by stifling creativity? Hasn’t Apple always been about thinking “different?”

Please Steve, let the software developers in like you have with OSX. They can make the iPhone what it has the potential to be. Just look at the innovation in AppTapp Installer (Installer.app) and the applications already available. It’s amazing what underground hackers and software developers have done with their spare time! They even got GPS-like location service to work on the iPhone, with no GPS!

Just imagine what they could do with a full-featured SDK to work with!

Yours truly,

Brandon Eley
beley@mac.com

37 Comments

Tee

couldn’t care less about an open iPhone. An open iPod Touch however! Where hacks can’t possibly hurt phone profits would be wonderful.

Lock the phone free the touch!

nfoo

#5 What? Waste? You’re kidding, right?

Seriously, a real letter has a lot more impact than a mail – maybe send through the feedback form.

Apple has, for example, a policy to answer every letter they receive. Not so with email.

Would everybody write a letter because of the iPhone, they would certainly hve a lot more work and this means some impact … more than email …

Steve

Yes, great letter. The iphone is a brilliant yet simple device. Like the newton it has an inherent beauty yet the newton ( especially the newton 2000 took 3rd party apps to a whole new level. Truly, a product ahead of it’s time. Unfortunately, Jobs cut the Newton and the 3rd party apps back in 1998. However, there are still people like myself who still use them. The Iphone 3rd party apps are great. People want to install their own apps. People want to install widgets. Running Web apps is too limiting – especially where there is no wifi or edge. As we know there are great native apps like Summerboard/ Springboard and Voice notes. Steve Jobs is ignorant to not know the viability of the Iphone for native 3rd party software and this may reduce future Iphone users.

This letter should accompany a petition for all iphone owner who want Apple to release the SDK for 3rd party developers to create native applications.

azzamallow

apple should “think different”…and do what most mobile devices do…they are thinking different.

I dont think it should change, i think they should at least allow users to add a a link to the menu and customise the menu as they see fit, to give it more of an application feel. There are heaps of issues in opening up 3rd party dev to the iPhone, stuff that apple are not interested in dealing with right now (although they are dealing with the hacking issues). Security is the concern, and apple cannot guarantee the user experience if others are putting applications on their platform. Its about the user experience. Things wont “just work” as they will want them to, at least till they can guarantee that then it wont change, and ppl will keep whinging.

WizzKid

Wrong if he will read it?

Awesome letter though, very well worded! As I am from UK ( scotland) I have no idea what the iPhone is like, but tomorrow I will have the iPod Touch (closest to it :) )

Thanks,

WizzKid

Sean

Your email is on the right track, but they need to allow unlocking, too. Anyone who travels overseas knows why.

And enough with the “cry me a river” replies. You’re right, of course, that Apple is in no way obligated to listen to their customers. They can lock it down, close out developers, brick the innovators’ devices, whatever they want.

And we can decide not to buy it.

But as a lifetime Apple customer, and a stockholder, I think they’re making a huge mistake, one that absolutely will cost them significant marketshare in the next few years if they don’t turn around. Their technology will be copied, poorly, but well enough that most consumers will happily trade the loss of elegance for increased access to software and better economics. And if this scenario sounds familiar, talk to anyone who, like me, marveled at the Mac in 1984 then turned around and bought a lot of DOS/Windows boxes for the following 15 years.

BTW, Nokia just got $400 from me for a very nice unlocked phone. I do love the iPhone interface, but I _want_ access to 3rd party apps and _need_ to travel without paying international roaming rates.

Brandon Eley

@Slelvin – I think it’s a really good possibility they were trying to eliminate the possibility of future “unlock” scripts, but they also knew (hence their announcement) that it would break third party apps. Since it happened, there hasn’t been a peep from Apple about a legitimate way to get them back. Hence my letter.

@nfoo – I intend to. I am taking a three-prong approach… email (to every address I could find for Steve), snail mail and here on TAB

Furies

How about pleading Steve to stop following the money and start concentrating on what really does matter, following deadlines and developing this “vista killer” he’s bragged so much about. At this rate we’ll probably have 3 generations of over glossy iPods out with DRA ridden spyware *oh wait, they’ve already done that* before Leopard, and with better interfaces then this weird burnt metallic look. In other words, re-concentrate on what made Apple famous, not what made Apple rich. The iPhone will be dead and buried in the next few years, but Operating Systems and computers will always have a market.

In my opinion god bless the hackers that kicked ATT and Apple where it hurts. Maybe next time they won’t try to dumb down features for their own money grubbing purposes.

Also, why would you voluntarily sell your information to the NSA? ATT just hands them your phone records and addresses incase your a terrorist(s). Hope you don’t have an Arabic name. Thank the President for your invasion of Constitutional rights.

Believe me, I’m not hating on Apple itself, just some of its business pursuits in the past years. I just happen to be a very disappointed Mac user distressed that Apple is following everything but what everyone loves about them, at least the ones who will STILL use their products if there not shiny and some sort of fashion trend for rich teenagers.

JesseR

Now, I’m not legal expert but David’s quote is pretty ridiculous – the UK is a member of the EU, and they are on a whole different currency. The same situation appears in the Scandinavian countries, and some of eastern Europe. The issue with some European countries is that the iTunes EULA only deal with English law, and individual countries would like the EULA customised for the legal systems of the individual countries.

Also, Europeans do not ‘expect’ unlocked phones. Every service provider issues locked phones with their own SIM card, and there is a fee to unlock – just like in the US.
Please get your facts straight…

JesseR

David said: “By law, there should only be one big EU iTunes store with one price for all”

David

Apple won’t notice a drop in sales from their hardball tactics because they lowered the price. That combined with official sales coming soon to 3 European countries will mean a huge boost in revenue. What I can’t figure out is how Apple expects to get away with these exclusive deals in Europe. They’re already in trouble for having separate iTunes stores and separate prices for individual countries when, by law, there should only be one big European Union iTunes store with one price for all. Add the fact that Europeans expect an unlocked phone and I smell more trouble brewing in iPhoneland.
The really big challenge, however, will be Asia. If there’s no support for unlocking or 3rd party applications when network support is rolled out in Asia then expect the market to be flooded with counterfeit iPhones. The law is of very little significance when there are millions of dollars to be made and enforcement can be easily bribed to look the other way.

JesseR

To quote a professor of mine:
Irritating, annoying, consumer-unfriendly, reason not to buy another Apple product, maybe, but since when does naked pursuit of economic self-interest upset techies? Maybe this is a corollary of last week’s a liberal is a conservative who has been arrested: “a consumer advocate is a techie whose hacked iPhone has been bricked.”

Mr Lucky

The iPhone comes so close.

The day I can connect a portable full-sized keyboard to it, type up TextEdit docs, then upload them with a few pics to dotMac, from anywhere in the world, this journalist will be in heaven.

I would be totally satisfied and technology could finally stop its inexorable advance.

John

You will be surprised to know tha Steve reads a lot of the emails sent to his address. His address is no different for internal and external email. I have a friend who was geting shafted around with apple HR ,and sent steve an email…. HIs next interview with the man himself.Steve runs a different ship than other corps.

FM

A very well written letter – spot on. I completely agree with you and hope Steve will get to read this.

jim

I was going to get an iphone when my verizon contract ran out next month, but with no 3rd party apps i’ll be staying with verizon.

Slevin

@ShavenYak

I doubt sales have declined since Apple started playing hardball. I would say 90% of iPhone users either don’t care or don’t know how to mod their iPhone because they are general users and not power users. Sales of the device won’t decrease because of the locking of the iPhone most potiential users either care about the price or being let out of their current contract with their service provider. With the holiday season coming up expect sales to be through the roof

iphonebuglist

I agree with you! That is exactly the way I feel. I have not hacked my iPhone but I have seen the wonderful applications. I think they should be allowed.

Tom

jr

quick! call the wahhhhhhmbulance!
the reason the iphone is locked down is the same reason that apple locks down their hardware. to keep it STABLE.

have you ever used a treo after installing a few 3rd party apps?

i for one am HAPPY its a closed platform as it ultimately leads to a better user experience

ShavenYak

Well, you can be absolutely sure that Apple has to prevent unlocking. It’s a good bet that they have to prevent VoIP as well. However, Apple could release an SDK that allows third-party apps, but has no API to access the microphone or any part of the file system that could lead to an unlock.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they take this route. The ability to run third-party software is a big selling point, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple has seen sales decline since they started playing hardball. I, for one, was on the verge of buying, but I am no longer interested.

El Fuggso

Think about the “why”. There only comes one reason in mind and thats voice over IP. Apple wouldn’t have a problem with VoiP, but you can bet that their carriers (AT&T, etc) have: Their revenues don’t come by the data transfer (which is flat rate) but by the phone minutes. And that is most likely the only reason Apple is bound to the contract to make sure, noone will ever be able to run a VoiP client on the iPhone. And since it might be more difficult to exclude specific programs or program types by their behaviour, its probably the easier way for Apple to simply exclude them all.

Slevin

@nfoo,

but what about the waste generate when they toss out the letter? Plus its almost free to send an email, mailing a letter cots 39 cents

nfoo

Hey … great idea … good job:

But consider sending it as a real letter.
In my experience this has a much bigger impact.

All of you should do that. There’s no better effect than a pile of letters. You can’t just click “delete” …

Slevin

People are complaining that the 3rd Party apps don’t work anymore because of the update and the encrypted communication between the computer and iPhone. Maybe the reason for the encryption is to prevent the unauthorized unlocking of iPhones which people aren’t complaining about as much as they are about the 3rd party apps. If the reason for the encryption is to prevent the unlocking of the iPhones and a byproduct of that is the inability of the iPhone to install 3rd party apps then can you really blame apple?

Also about notes and a todo list. In leopard mail has both these options to create notes and have a todo list. While not available to sync I believe that when Leopard ships it will be possible to sync both notes and a todo list that will integrate with the iCal todo list, so I wouldn’t worry about those features too much right now.

Finally, I’ll say this, wait until leopard comes out. The iPhone and leopard were supposed to debut at the same time so some of the iPhone’s feature set may be incomplete due to the delayed release of Leopard. Just wait a few weeks and the cat will be out of the bag.

Andrew Creek

Good letter. I have a feeling Steve is getting a lot of letters about the current situation.

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