Linux boots on the iPhone
Posted Nov 29, 2008 19:29 UTC (Sat) by pboddie
In reply to: Linux boots on the iPhone
Parent article: Linux boots on the iPhone
I agree with the sentiments of the original commenter. With the lack of sufficiently open hardware continually hampering Free Software adoption, it makes sense to support projects which intend to provide the community with genuinely open hardware.
Of course, people can always make the "captive audience" argument that the iPhone is already out there, which is broadly the same as the claim that giving Windows users Free Software applications is somehow as good as giving them a complete stack of Free Software from the operating system through the desktop to the applications they use, and that people shouldn't try and challenge the economics or the status quo. I can see the merits in subverting the iPhone hardware by putting Linux on it, but apart from potentially figuring out how to make certain chipsets work with Linux (which could be valuable), it doesn't seek to change the fundamental problem that is the scarcity of devices which encourage rather than resist Free Software solutions.
The fact that people are prepared to go to such lengths to modify their iPhones shows how much value they put on the hardware features that it offers. Openmoko (and anyone else) have no choice but to offer the same or preferably better features, if they want to get very far.
For mass-market adoption, giving people all the most sought-after features might appear to be a necessity, but there are also plenty of people who don't want the most shiny things on their phone or who value the openness more. I'd buy a Neo Freerunner just for the openness aspect because I'm sometimes less than impressed by Sony Ericsson's attempts at user interface engineering. Some people would rather keep their phone and have the bugs fixed than be forced to "upgrade" to another one.
A final note about contracts, features and iPhone competitors. Here in Norway the price of an iPhone under contract works out at around $900 for 12 months on a subscription which might not immediately invoke additional costs for fairly normal usage (unlike other iPhone offers), which is pretty expensive for a phone. In addition, there are other phones having better hardware, like the LG KC910, available for less. As for the built-in camera, although there's always a convenience argument for them, I don't think I'd want to "upgrade" to the iPhone's camera even from a budget compact.
It's worth questioning the "give the punters what (we think) they want" strategy. In digital photography people bemoan the megapixel race which makes people think that a 14 megapixel compact is better than last year's 9 megapixel one, and let us not forget that the pundits all told us that no-one would buy a cut-down laptop: such people are not always right.
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