As Apple rots, iPhone users revolt

Users are turning against the iPhone. Call it the summer of our discontent, but these hot, sticky months are proving an excellent time to not buy a smartphone

Users are turning against the iPhone. Call it the summer of our discontent, but these hot, sticky months are proving an excellent time to not buy a smartphone. Apple and AT&T have only themselves to blame.

Now, we must wait for the two companies to learn their lessons and, just maybe, for a new iPhone carrier to emerge. If you are thinking about upgrading to a 3GS and can stand to wait, you might find a more attractive option in a few months, especially if the iPhone's downhill slide continues.

What is upsetting iPhone users?

App Store -- Do I really need to keep making the case that having Apple as the only vendor of iPhone apps is bad for customers? The rejection of Google Voice, potentially a killer app for smartphones, should prove that Apple doesn't care about its customers.

The App Store approval process seems capricious and arbitrary. Spend time and money to develop an application only to have it denied for reasons nobody can quite articulate in advance. Developers would flee the App Store given a chance. They should have that option.

Yes, that would mean porn for the iPhone, but besides that I am no longer sure what Apple's ironhanded control of iPhone apps is getting me as a consumer. I appreciate if there are apps that Apple doesn't want to sell, but should Apple be the sole arbiter and supplier? Certainly not.

The Apple monopolies must go.

Multitasking -- I did not expect multitasking to become a big deal so soon, but Google Latitude makes an excellent case for it. The iPhone OS is capable of multitasking, but Apple limits it to a few applications, such as the music player. Multitasking needs to be available to non-Apple other applications, too. It is available on iPhone competitors.

AT&T -- I am not wild about Sprint advertising that I am paying $US50-a-month too much because I am using an iPhone instead of a Palm Pre. I am not wild that Apple adds tethering to the iPhone but I don't get to use it. I am not wild that I am still waiting for the ability to attach pictures to SMS messages. I am not wild about slow speeds and dropped calls. Is AT&T listening? Doesn't seem to be and I'm not wild about that, either.

I do not expect that, by Christmas, another smartphone will offer an applications library or music store to match the iPhone. I am not expecting that in 2010, actually.

But, with Google's Android smartphone OS due to appear on up to 20 devices before year-end, new options are appearing. Palm's Pre isn't getting better at the moment, just more attractive by comparison. Especially price comparison, as Sprint helpfully reminds us.

iPhone developers should, right now, start supporting other platforms because it is in their best interest to do so. It appears likely that Android and Palm's WebOS will support better applications than iPhone and building them now will put the heat on Apple to improve its game.

I am not sure what to do about Apple's control of the music business, except to notice it's become a monopoly, which is something that is bad for consumers. If Apple were wise it would offer an API that allows any smartphone to work with iTunes. This will happen eventually, but why not now?

The sense of smug superiority that we iPhone users have enjoyed has worn off. Now, instead of being the ones who've chosen, we're pawns in the games of AT&T and Apple. What used to be mere annoyances have become real pains. And the companies that ought to be our friends are the causes of our frustration.

If there were someplace to jump ship to, iPhone users, instead of upgrading to the 3GS would be changing platforms. Maybe by the holidays such a place will exist or Apple and AT&T will have been forced to change their customer-hostile ways. In the meantime, waiting is the best option.

Industry veteran David Coursey still loves his iPhone, only a lot less than before. He tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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David Coursey

PC World (US online)
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