During the 7th hour of a 10 hour flight to Miami, Florida, the fasten seatbelt sign had been turned on, shining brightly in the ancient, dark, cramped, yet cosy, BA economy class of a Boeing 747. My sister and I are fighting passively over the limited foot and armrest space, staring at a screen no more than 4.5″ big, writing this post after having watched one film, 2 TV shows, a documentary on renewable energy and sped through 4 chapters of “Great Expectations”. Try doing all that in 7 hours! (Actually, It is quite easy…).
So, as one expects, we have an airplane post here, as most of the other posts in this series are (parts 1, 2 and 3). For those of you who do no know, this series consists of several rants about how content and service providers are, generally, evil twits, idiots and narrow-minded. To sum up in one word: money grabbing.
Oh look, a kid who has been kicking my chair for the past 7 hours has thrown up. Lovely. Time to get up and let the pros deal with it. Oh wait, I cannot get up, the fasten seatbelt sign is on; well then screw this, I am getting up anyway.
Sorry for the tangent there. What I really want to talk about is an app apple released recently, called Tether. Guess what it does, why don’t you. It allows an iPhone, blackberry and Android device to tether its Internet connection to a computer, allowing it to access the Internet through the phone’s signal over a USB connection. This was already a feature on iPhones that had been long before introduced, with options to tether over USB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi; however, this only worked if either you carrier allowed it and/or you paid money to have this feature. My current carrier does not allow tethering at all, and I am fine with that, because I am not really into paying for extra features that I should really have intrinsically with my contract, considering that for the same amount, I could get much more on any other phone in place of an iPhone, but, you know, damn money grabbing carriers, right?
Anyway, this app, Tether, was released on the app store, even though it clearly goes against the AppStore acceptance policy. It bypassed the need to pay your carrier for tethering and allowed you to so by paying £10 ($15) for the app. Now, that looks expensive, but consider this, you pay that much monthly for a 3G dongle, so it was not such a bad deal. Take note of the word was. It was clear that Apple would eventually have to take down the app. This happened about 24 hours after worldwide release, and during that time, new Tether servers had to be commissioned (whatever the terminology is) twice to support the massive influx of new users, I myself being one! (Hint: if you want to up-to-date with this stuff, I recommend you read this post)
Why was the app even released if it does not comply with Apple’s strict AppStore policies? There are 2 possible reasons: 1. I was a junior guy who does not really care was approving apps without a second thought or 2. Apple did it on purpose just to piss everyone off.
Yes, you heard me. Apple has done this on several occasions before, and it has always had a somewhat positive outcome. They pissed off the music labels with iTunes and multiple app developers with the AppStore.
In this specific case, they wanted to piss the carriers off, because for the exact reason that they could do it. They wanted to show that the carrier’s power over the handsets and user were dwindling away slowly, but surely, shown by the recent removal of CarrierIQ from all iOS 5 handsets and the iPhone 4S online order process in the US, where apple handled the purchasing and transactions of all new iPhone contracts from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.
Oh, the second kid puked, 40 minutes before landing, and it stinks.
As I have said before, the influence of the carriers will become such an insignificant force within the industry that they will have no choice but to relent to the wills of software distributors. Remember what they wanted to do with the iPhone EDGE? They wanted to install a whole bunch of crapware on it, like those silly themes and applications. Bending to the wills of the software distributors is not necessarily a good thing though, depending how you look at it. They can create an anticompetitive industry, where the top 5 rule all, but that would be a short sighted argument, as those distributors are still liable to the will of the people, so, in the long run, the mobile phone industry will be handed over into the hands of the general population, driving down prices and increasing functionality.
We have only seen the first glimpse into this whole process with the release and takedown of Tether. I really hope that within a reasonable amount of time, I will be able to see the downfall of the tyrannous rule of the mobile phone carriers.
To conclude in the usual way (refer to the first post for explanation):
[I felt obliged to keep you updated on the puking of various children on this flight, and for that, I apologise, to a certain extent]