Many of my loyal readers recognize the strife I have with the iPhone. Its elegant, sexy interface is alluring, yet as it draws you in it immediately pushes you away like a magnet, turned the opposite direction in reverse polarity. My goal in buying an iPhone originally was to figure out how to write apps for it. With its AJAX browser interface it seemed not too complex an interface to actually use as a development platform. However, as I mentioned earlier, I bought it, and immediately returned it because I realized that first, I had no way of using my wonderful T-Mobile plan rather than being locked into a 2-year contract with AT&T, and second, the iPhone DOES NOT support 64-bit operating systems at the moment, and I’m not about to downgrade my OS for a simple phone.
So I just recently had the opportunity to buy a MacBook for my daily business efforts and Facebook development. I have owned Macs in the past, and find them ideal development desktop environments because I get the best of almost 3 worlds, the Mac, Unix, and Windows through Parallels. It’s an ideal testing environment for a web developer.
The same day I bought it (yesterday), it was announced that finally a free unlock solution was available to free yourself from AT&T. Finally, I was in an ideal situation to buy an iPhone, try it out, review it, hack it to my T-Mobile, without having to switch carriers or downgrade my OS to an inferior architecture. I know, I’m a hypocrite, but all along I’ve really just been trying to make this work and Apple just wouldn’t let me!
I’ve realized my belief in that is completely wrong. I now totally understand why Apple is locking people into AT&T (why no 64-bit support, I have no idea)! You see, Apple knew people would unlock their phone. They know us developers way too well. Yes, we would complain and gripe, but Apple knows we all secretly love their products.
The issue is, Apple needed carriers to embrace and support their phone to make it big and “cool” in the market. Scoble says all you need to be cool is a small group to promote the heck out of your product. Verizon actually turned them down in initial deals. GSM I belive is a better network worldwide, so I believe they started seeking out partners in the GSM market. AT&T was the biggest US partner so they worked out a deal with them, which was a huge bonus for Apple, as they had exclusive marketing rights at AT&T stores all across America.
You see, Apple knew people would complain about being locked into one provider. The thing most people are neglecting (including myself) is that Apple knows their customers. They knew developers would soon hack the OS – it is a UNIX OS after all, and while they would have to protect their agreement with AT&T and try to patch the hacks, developers would always get around that until AT&T caved and let them just leave it open to the hacks. The iPhone would expand into other markets, and voila, Apple has T-Mobile and other GSM providers without even trying!
I hacked my iPhone last night. I now run my iPhone on T-Mobile, no contract, and excellent customer service! I have a shell prompt into my iPhone. I can ssh and SFTP into my iPhone. It was actually unbelievably (with a few quirks) easy to set up! Will Apple update it in the future? Probably, but you can also bet hackers will quickly have a new hack to keep it unlocked – there is no way around it, and Apple knows this. They built the software to make working around the hackers hard! I find it very hard to believe this wasn’t part of their underlying business strategy.