Yup, that’s sarcasm there. AT&T is offering 1000 free rollover minutes to their iPhone users as an incentive to stay with AT&T rather than switching to Verizon. Here’s why this is too little (way too little, in fact), too late.
Here’s some more iPhone news, and of course, my opinions on it all.
A class-action lawsuit was filed in California and is currently seeking plaintiffs. If you live in California and want to get in on this go to the official lawsuit website. You are a member of the class if you want to transfer your iPhone to a different carrier, if your iPhone bricked when you upgraded it, Apple refused to honor the warranty on your phone because you either unlocked it or installed third party software, you paid an early termination fee with your carrier to switch to AT&T to use the iPhone, you paid for a third party extended warranty to cover your unlocked iPhone, or you incurred roaming charges when you used your iPhone abroad. If you fit into any of these (and anyone can really fit into the first category), you should really get on board and try to get this class action suit spread nationwide. Apple needs to know how we feel.
Of course, if our laws were more like France, Belgium, and a bunch of other European countries, there would be no need for this lawsuit. Apparently Apple fans in those countries won’t be seeing the iPhone anytime soon because they have laws against selling cell phones that are locked to a single carrier. We need laws like this in our country, of course that’ll never happen because Congress sleeps with the corporations rather than do things to help the people who elect them. They vote based on who gives them money (and dinners and other fun stuff) rather than the people they actually represent and elect them. It really is quite annoying. I love the service Verizon Wireless offers, but I hate their phones (though I do like my new Chocolate, but I wish it had full functionality).
I know I write an awful lot about Apple and how much I dislike them, but they’re really started to turn into a company that they never were before and it does bother me. I really want to like Apple. I think they do make some nice products, but the company itself prevents me from really liking them and dropping the money on their products (yes I do run Windows, but I also have to support Windows, it’s easier this way… and I didn’t pay for it as I get a copy from my job).
Anyway, various reports have come in saying that Apple has said that the new firmware might permanently disable any unlocked iPhones because the unlock “hack” broke something. There are several different unlocking hacks, one of which is a hardware hack. The hardware hack does have the potential to damage the phone, but purely software hacks are reversible and do not cause this problem. Apple decided that they would void the warranty on any phones that have this problem because they were unlocked. Unfortunately for Apple, a decades old law makes it illegal for them to void the warranty unless the third party application (in this case the unlocking hack) damaged the phone or the phone’s native software.
My opinion (and for those that know me, I am very opinionated) is that Apple should embrace the unlocking and third parties as it increases the value of the iPhone. Believe it or not, not everyone who might buy one wants to use it only on AT&T’s network or use only Apple-approved applications on it. I am also of the opinion that wireless carriers should not be crippling cell phones and should be allowing all uses of them. Most cell phones today have Bluetooth, but they “don’t support” the full capabilities (such as file transfer). This is because the wireless carriers are afraid of losing the income from the sale of overpriced ringtones to people creating their own on their own computers and transferring them to their cell phones. Lucky for me, both Susan and I have the same cell phones (the LG VX8550 Chocolate, the new Chocolate, I love it by the way) and she bought the music pack that came with a USB cable. I was able to make my own ringtones editing an mp3 I had with Audacity (an open source audio editor) and send it to my phone using Bitpim (an open source information manager for phones). However, I do still wish I had the capability to send files to my phone via Bluetooth (since my laptop has Bluetooth).
So the moral of the story is that cell phone carriers suck because they cripple phones (something I think should be outlawed, but won’t) and that Apple sucks because of their premature threats of voiding warranties. The question I have is with whom the burden of proof falls that the third party software (in this case the unlocking hack) damaged the phone and caused it to turn into a brick.
The Optimist/Pessimist: Apple’s iPhone Unlock Warning (Boing Boing Gadgets)
One of the announcements I failed to report last night was that Apple decided to drop the price of the iPhone by $200. Unfortunately, upon release about a million people bought the same phone for $599 and are now left $200 short. While I can fully understand Apple’s reasons for dropping the price (there’s no way they can compete with better smartphones while their own phone costs a whole lot more, meaning they can only depend on fanbois to a degree). The hate mail has been piling in since this announcement from angry customers who paid way more than they should have for this phone. The only thing Apple can really do at this point to appease their loyal customers (remember the lines of people waiting to get into Apple on the release date for the iPhone?) is to give anyone with a phone a $200 rebate. Of course, Apple has to keep their stockholders happy. If they do anything at all, they’ll end up giving these people $200 in Apple gift cards (or they can be real jerks and just give them iTunes gift cards and let people buy up their crappy compressed DRM’d music).
Regardless of what happens, Apple is in a bind… appease their loyal customers or keep stockholders happy. It seems to me that this might’ve been planned from the get go. They knew that people would buy the phone for $599, so they sold it. They also knew that the interest in the phone would drop really quickly after the initial release because of that ridiculous price tag. My theory is that they released the phone selling for as much as they thought they could get at the time, and then drop the price when sales started to dwindle and they made some other announcement. I expect that they figured their fans to be blind idiots who think everything that Steve Jobs does is infallible. They figured wrong.
Business 2.0 has a pretty good blog post about this. My opinion… the original iPhone adopters are rightfully pissed.
UPDATE: According to CNN, Apple’s stock dropped more than 5% after the announcement. The story is here.
UPDATE #2: Apparently, Apple is doing sorta what I had expected, only worse… they’re giving anyone who bought it over 2 weeks ago (those who bought it less 2 weeks ago can get a $200 rebate, those who still have it in the package and bought it less than 2 weeks ago can return it outright) a… get this… it’s a doozie… $100 Apple store credit! WOO HOO!!! Stevie-boy says he’s making things right with his “valued” iPhone customers. Making it right would be giving them all back $200 cash. Not only is this not cash, but it’s not even $200! Open Letter from Steve Jobs to iPhone Customer
Business 2.0 updated their post.