Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The iPhone Spy Hurts Innovation

It seems that Apple recently filed a patent for a new gadget to be installed in future versions of the company's popular smartphone, the iPhone. This gadget will essentially serve as Black Box for the device, allowing Apple's technicians to detect any tampering if a device is brought in for repair. The official purpose of the device is to prevent those who've "abused" their iPhone from attaining new phones through the warranty.

For now, it seems that the Black Box won't be able to remotely communicate with Apple's servers but it does leave the door open for a very discomforting slippery slope. Apple has already been widely criticized for the closed nature of its iPhone - e.g. every single program has to be approved by Apple before it can be sold to iPhone users.

I believe that this development is very detrimental to mobile innovation in the Apple ecosystem. Without the ability to tinker with hardware, personal computers would have never experienced the innovative renaissance of the 1980s and 1990s. I fear that Apple is already stifling innovation by tightly controlling the development of new applications. The Black Box will further this trend with the iPhone's hardware.
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