Who Really Owns Your iPhone? It May Not Be You
Posted at 10:15h, 22 Sep 2015 in List Archive by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

Good morning, All,

Once upon a time there was this thing called ‘sales,’ which were dependent on these people called ‘customers,’ who are now primarily referred to online as ‘users’ – unless it’s an ecommerce site – and once upon a time, customers mattered.  It’s only in tech that people who use a product or service are referred to as ‘users’ rather than ‘customers,’ which started us all down a slippery slope. In our opinion, we’re still on the downward slide and do not look forward to seeing what rock bottom looks like. For example, Who Really Owns Your iPhone? It May Not Be You. According to the piece, and depending on your plan, you may not own that new iPhone 6S, for which you might have paid a hefty price: it might actually be the property of Apple or your wireless carrier. Could you imagine if utilities treated customers this way? That you had to buy a new oven every few years – or have your house/apartment rewired, as the utility company upgraded and no longer supported the infrastructure you need?  If Con Ed suddenly held that kind of sway over our stove, hey, we’d personally leave it to them to clean it, too.

“But Apple goes a step further,” the article continues. “Even if you pay full price for your iPhone upfront, Apple still asserts an extraordinary amount of control. It alone decides what apps can be distributed through the App Store, which is the only authorized way everyday customers can add third-party software to an iPhone or any of Apple’s other mobile devices.”

Last week, Apple, which acquired Hopstop a couple of years back for an ‘undisclosed sum’ purported to be around $1B, announced that they’re shutting down the service on October 1st – yet another casualty in Apple’s war with Google over maps, and as part of Apple’s push to move users onto its own Maps app. Waze, which was acquired by Google just prior to Apple’s acquisition of Hopstop, continues to be a standalone service, available on both Android and iOS. Hopstop is currently used in over 300 cities: Apple’s ‘replacement’ service will roll out in 10, for starters. Hardly a replacement service, but an arms race is an arms race, even at the expense of users. Then again, we wonder when was the last time Tim Cook tried to maneuver his way through a city using public transportation.

Not that Google doesn’t have its own list of services/apps that it has acquired over the years, only to make them no longer available to its customers.

And what if your utility company no longer supported ovens that were over a certain age, which both Apple and Google do with smartphone upgrades?

What has always differentiated Apple is that it has always been intuitive and has made technology user friendly, never mind that each new OS ‘upgrade’ certainly does tend to bring its share of problems and pain points: Apple customers complain of apps crashing with latest iPhone, iPad software. Here are 15 Hidden New Features Tucked Away In iOS 9, or as one Apple users noted in the comments, “They always call them upgrades, but it seems like they just move everything around and make it something you have to find, it never really improves anything, or very little at least. I wish they would at least stick to the same formatting so I can find things without having to re learn.” Not that Google releases perfect software, either: This stupid game turns a major Chrome bug into fun.
Apple turns 40 soon – and isn’t time that the industry releases software that really works? Or paid closer attention to the customers’ choices? And note to self: there doesn’t seem to be those problems when it comes to location-tracking software or data collection. Then again, we all may be just so much collateral damage in the war that’s going on between the tech superpowers: Welcome to hell: Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook and the slow death of the web. There’s a platform war going on and “it’s Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook, all with their own revenue platforms. Google has the web, Facebook has its app, and Apple has the iPhone. This is the newest and biggest war in tech going today. And the collateral damage of that war — of Apple going after Google’s revenue platform — is going to include the web, and in particular any small publisher on the web that can’t invest in proprietary platform distribution, native advertising, and the type of media wining-and-dining it takes to secure favorable distribution deals on proprietary platforms. It is going to be a bloodbath of independent media.”

In other words, they’re all basically building walled gardens, at the expense of innovation. “Taking money and attention away from the web means that web innovation will slow to a crawl,” the article points out. We’ve been aware of the Silicon Valley echo chamber for a while, and corporations vying for customers is nothing new. Nor is advertiser-supported content. That’s what helped launched television. No one likes ads – especially on mobile – but it does help to support the content creators – whom we do like.

There was a time when the web was referred to as the information superhighway – and you could find what you wanted, where you wanted it. The content was out there for all the world to see and access. With the world porting to mobile, and the major players moving the game, it doesn’t look like that will be the case in the future. It’s a dangerous slope to go down, but as with the buggy releases, it’s assumed that we’re used to it. But it’s gotten out of hand. This is a line in the sand where the big players have absolutely jumped the shark. Time to somehow take back the power of the customer or there’s no telling what’s next or how far they’re willing to go, as we go onward and forward.