Free Software Foundation-5 reasons to avoid iPhone 3G


The 5 real reasons to avoid iPhone 3G:

  • 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.

The FSF believe that the iPhone is an attack on very old and fundamental values — the value of people having control over their stuff rather than their stuff having control over them, the right to freely communicate and share with others, and the importance of privacy.

The important difference between the iPhone and prior general-purpose computers: The iPhone is broken, on purpose. It is in theory capable of running many different kinds of programs, but software applications and media will be limited via Apple’s ironically named Digital Restrictions Management technology — “FairPlay”.


Apple’s DRM system monitors your activities and tells you what you are and are not allowed to do. What you are not allowed to do is install any software that Apple doesn’t like. This restriction prevents you from installing free software — software whose authors want you to freely share, copy and modify their work.

This system is not Apple’s only FoulPlay. iPhones can now also only be activated in stores — despite the fact that in the U.S., the Register of Copyrights ruled that consumers have the right to unlock their phones and switch to a different carrier.

Fortunately, we will soon be able to have all the convenience of a mobile computer that also makes phone calls without selling our freedom to Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, or anyone else. The Neo FreeRunner is a promising free-software phone, being developed in cooperation with the same worldwide community responsible for the GNU/Linux operating system. These are creators who want to share their work and who want you and others to be able to do what they did — build on the work of people who came before them to make new, empowering devices.

Neo Freerunner

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3 thoughts on “Free Software Foundation-5 reasons to avoid iPhone 3G”

  1. You know I’m a big FOSS advocate, and I’m as anti-DRM around media content as the next guy, but when it comes to software there is a really good argument for controlling what software goes into a computer or device – it means it just plain works.

    I haven’t held a iPhone, but from what I’ve seen and read the interface is revolutionary in it’s simplicity and ease of use – which is typical of Apple – and it just plain works (initial App Store hiccups notwithstanding). It will end up with an impressive range of useful apps.

    I probably won’t get an iPhone, but I’m considering getting an iTouch as I need a small media player and web device (although no flash gives me concern).

    And I’m sorry, but the Freerunner is just plain ugly, and I doubt very much whether it just plain works. If my experience with Linux on the desktop is anything to go by then I will spend a significant amount of time trying to get things to work on it and trawling web forums for support. I’m willing to do this, but the rest of the world outside the geek community isn’t – they just want to get things done. They just want a device that works, is easy to use and has lots of apps.

    Unfortunately things in life aren’t always black and white. There are often two sides to any story, and we have to accept the reality that there are plenty of good reasons why people will buy Apple products, whether we like it or not or believe in it or not. Certainly until the FOSS community can come up with a competitive alternative.

    And as long as FOSS advocates like the original author of this post rant like an extremist and accuse Jobs of creating a “prison” and look down their noses on users who are “duped” into buying non-FOSS products the FOSS world will remain on the fringes and be slow at attracting supporters.  This is how to make enemies, not friends.

    Shame, as I believe in the FOSS philosophy.

    Signed… your friendly neighbourhood devil’s advocate. 🙂

    p.s. It took me 4 attempts to post this comment. I was forced to use OpenID when I put in my blog – there should be an option to use it manually. I was pushed a page that told me that I had to log on to my WordPress blog (that’s not very free!) and that page had no links, and then after all that Open ID didn’t authenticate. I think I just proved my point. 🙂

  2. @sean I’ve been testing an OpenID wordpress plugin, thanks for the feedback, Ive changed the settings not to use OpenID for comments till I figure out whats happeneing. Im just helping test wp-openid. Anyway thanks for help, I’m still learning about OpenID :).

    I understand where your coming from Sean but I also appreciate the fsf’s position on this and all the work they’ve done campaigning against drm and I dont just mean sitting at a computer, I mean getting out there and involved in social activism, protesting etc.

    The original article made me chuckle with statements like this:

    “This is the phone that has changed phones forever,” Mr. Jobs said.

    We agree. A snake oil salesman not satisfied with his business of pushing proprietary software and Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology into your home, Jobs has set his sights on getting DRM and proprietary software into your pocket as well.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion Sean.


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