2 Responses

  1. squiggleslash
    squiggleslash July 21, 2008 at 1:42 pm |

    WRT to your first comment: Yes, using the FSF’s definitions (and therefore interpreting their comments as they were intended to mean), Apple blocks the use of free software. “Free” here does not mean “gratis”, it means open, modifiable, and redistributable. Apple requires developers pay a tax and hand over control of their software to Apple who make the final decision as to whether it can be run on an iPhone. That is not free software.

    Your second comment is not a reply to the associated FSF comment. Whether Apple prefers DRM to not exist for music downloads or not is irrelevant: the fact is Apple endorses DRM, providing it as an option for music downloads and treating it as a must-have and a feature for video downloads. They were the first major online content store to provide an end-to-end DRM “solution”, and the iPhone continues in that tradition.

    The third comment is clearly bogus, there’s no reason for the FSF to single out Apple on this, especially as it’s impossible to implement a cellular network without some concept of location. Of all the comments you criticize, this is probably the only one that can be fairly shot down as silly. But, ironically, you shoot and you miss: you claim that it doesn’t do this. It does. You can’t implement a W-CDMA based UMTS network without location information. The data is there, it’s available to your cellular provider.

    The fourth comment again is given a reply that’s entirely illegitimate. Sure, you can convert music to a patent-encumbered form to play on your iPhone, but you cease to be using patent-free music and software as soon as you do so (you cannot do this transcoding under Ubuntu without installing non-free software), and you lose quality in the process. Essentially you’re saying “Sure it’s possible to use patent free music files on your device, just convert them to patent encumbered files”. What. The. Hell?

    The fifth comment can be argued any way, but needless to say there are better phones out there than iPhone, and the FSF is right to draw people’s attention to them.

    Five for five you’re wrong, sometimes because you’ve misunderstood what the FSF has actually said, but in some cases you’ve worded a reply that implies the FSF is right as something claiming it’s wrong. The FSF is technically right on four of the five counts (even if one is impossible to remedy and not Apple’s fault), with the last one being largely subjective.

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  2. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price July 21, 2008 at 2:11 pm |

    You can argue that the FSF is technically right on four out of five counts. But you can’t then say that “five for five I’m wrong”. I have them dead to rights on at least one point, and I have four other lies of omission on the table.

    I find it curious that you call me out for pointing out problems with point three, agree with me that they’re valid, and then say I’m wrong five out of five times.

    Finally, the FSF is being misleading, I never said they were lying (but for the lie of omission). The FSF should be doing its due diligence to inform consumers (since that is their goal).

    Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with FSF tearing into iPhone’s walled garden. As I said in the article, I just think they must do it based on valid, fully-informed information. Anything else is simply disingenuous to the nature of free, open sourced software.

    Now, on the technical nitpicking about location data. LBS data is emitted on every cell phone for E911 purposes. However, it is not exposed to third-parties (which FSF argues that the iPhone does… and it doesn’t), unless you explicitly give approval. If you still feel that’s not sufficient information, fee free to research JSR 179, which should give you more insight into the carrier-phone-app interconnection, it’s really no different on iPhone.

    In fact, iPhone OS 2.0 is even more ardent about not exposing location data to third-parties than a typical phone. It won’t even supply Apple and its second-parties with LBS data without your explicit approval. Give it a go in Apple Maps and you’ll see for yourself!

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