It is almost the year 2010.
It seemed as though it was yesterday that we were all waking up to see if the world had ended on January 1st, 2000 from the dreaded and mega hyped Y2k bug.
Technology is moving faster than ever.
A tweet as a verb now describes an internet status update instead of the sound a bird makes. Facebook is no longer a material thing high school students use to keep in touch but instead a social networking site with more "citizens" than most countries have people.
And you no longer need to be a computer genius to use a smartphone.
Just ask the millions of people who are being drawn to new devices such as the iPhone or Palm Pre. The Motorolla Droid is the latest phone to focus on ease of use and as prices come down, and people become more connected via social networking, smartphone purchases go up.
Whats Good for the Goose, Not Good For The Gander
When apple announced the original iPhone years ago, they included a set ammount of applications (apps) for common tasks. They also announced that although the iPhone would be a smartphone like no other with an extremely robust set of hardware underneath the hood, there would be no access to outside developers to program for the phone.
This caused independant software companies and developers cry foul, claiming that Apple was limiting the device itself. Apple counterclaimed that by closing the phone, they were ensuring all users a flawless experience
When Apple announced the AppStore would launch and developers would be able to finally develop and publish apps for profit or for free, the same developers cheered briefly until learning that Apple would test and either approve or deny all apps. Apple needed no reason to deny an app and had no obligation to explain or justify their decisions.
All the while, an underground community was brewing. Through unofficial channels, so called "Hackers" and "Crackers" were finding new ways to bypass the locks which Apple had put into place. They were gaining root access (the deepest part of the software that runs the iPhone) and enabling the installation of unauthorized apps. Even before the existence of the AppStore, there were new games, apps and modifications available for the device.
And Then There Was Google.
Shortly after the launch of the iPhone, Google announced an open sourced phone platform called "Android." Android would allow developers to put an operating system on any device which would be open to developers and free to develop for. In addition to the Android version of the Apple AppStore, the Android store would never deny any apps submitted unless they were obviously in blatant violation of terms of service regarding hate speech, sexual content etc.
People have started to use the Android Platform and it is not a failure by any means, but it is still not able to compete with the Apple AppStore.
On December 14th 2009, it was announced that Google would be launching a brand new phone, known as the Nexus One.
The Nexus One would not have any restrictions. Google has promised that the phone will be the first ever completely open version of it's Android OS. They claim that various carriers (such as Verizon with the Droid and T-Mobile with the MyTouch) have put restrictions in place in order to keep customers from the full potential of the Android platform.
This has created some buzz in the industry.
But Back to Those Who Just Want a Nice Phone
I fix iPhones.
I do it for friends of friends of friends.
Many times the phones come to me and need to be reset because some "ghost in the machine" has caused a problem. Nothing serious, just go in and backup the phone (if possible) and restore it via iTunes.
More often than not, the iPhone comes to me with either a picture of a Russian Steve Jobs (the Apple CEO) or what is commonly known to the "Jailbreaking" community as a PwnApple.
Jailbreaking is the process of opening your iPhone up to enable hacks, mods and other things that apple does not allow.
Are these users who have to bring their phone to be repaired gaining anything from their user experience by having their device "crash" or are they simply limiting their enjoyment they can have from the phone itself?
These users take a device that "just works" and hack it to make it "just a little better" and in the end suffer down the line.
You Say You Want a Revolution... But do You?
So to what level does the common user need to access the deepest levels of a device?
And what works best for the average joe who just needs to make calls?
When Google launches the Nexus One in early 2010 we will see how successful they can be with an completely unlocked and open platform.
Until then, we will just have to wait.