I like free software. I don’t like when people make it a death wish.
I didn’t see this post on the Free Software Foundation blog until this morning. Quite simply, they have started giving false statements and half-truths about Apple and the App Store, in order to promote free and open source software. Quoting their five reasons to not get an iPhone:
- iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can’t be on everyone’s phones.
- iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.
- iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.
- iPhone won’t play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.
- iPhone is not the only option. There are better alternatives on the horizon that respect your freedom, don’t spy on you, play free media formats, and let you use free software — like the FreeRunner.
- iPhone does not block free software. Developers pay a one-time $99 fee for hosting, testing, and unlimited developer support. They can offer their software free of charge from then on. Plus, for $299 (again, one-time fee), you can sign up for the Enterprise program and bypass the App Store completely. And, that includes the cost of the SDK and IDE to make the app, which are free. How many robust Java IDEs do what Xcode does, at no cost? Apple simply charges for the IDE when you make an app, not before you make it.
- Apple has led the industry with iTunes Plus to remove DRM whenever possible. Apple was the first music store to offer DRM decryption whenever a music label agreed to offer DRM-free music, at no charge to the consumer. And, iTunes is the only DRM platform that gives you an opt-out, by burning your music to an Audio CD (which can then be re-ripped back in as an MP3, AAC, or any other format).
- iPhone has industry-standard location controls, in the Settings application. One touch can disable anyone’s access to your location. And, you are prompted when giving location data to third-parties. Basically, what the FSF said above on location data being exposed is completely incorrect.
- iPhone will play other formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora with a free desktop converter. Both formats would require extensive support, and are not widely used outside of the Linux community. Apple has added WAV and WMA support to iTunes in response to consumer demand.
- While iPhone certainly is not the only option, the makers of the Neo FreeRunner clearly state that the device is aimed at Linux developers, and not the typical consumer. It lacks EDGE and UMTS data, and as such has one of the slowest mobile data connections in America.
Summing it up, the references to location data being exposed are 100% false, and appear to be pre-release speculation written as fact. Calling the App Store one-time fee a tax is a misrepresentation. And, their alternative device is not even targeted for consumers, according to FreeRunner’s parent company.
The Free Software Foundation appears to be taking pot shots at Apple to try and pick up media coverage. It has backfired, as it just makes the FSF appear shameful at best. Next time, save us the half-truths, and give consumers the whole picture. Yes, I would love it if Apple would offer an easier way to run any application on the device… but the best way the FSF can make that happen, is to provide the most accurate depiction possible.