Why iPhone should remain closed

Summary:Readers of this blog know that I'm a big fan of the Treo and still believe it to be the best smartphone for Mac users. However when people ask me what I think about my Treo, I usually respond: "The best thing about the Treo is that you can install any software you want on it. But the worst thing about the Treo is that you can install any software you want on it." My Treo is a veritable bouillabaisse of software from vendors around the planet and I'm starting to wonder about the wisdom of this approach.

iPhone lock
Readers of this blog know that I'm a big fan of the Treo and still believe it to be the best smartphone for Mac users. However when people ask me what I think about my Treo, I usually respond: "The best thing about the Treo is that you can install any software you want on it. But the worst thing about the Treo is that you can install any software you want on it." My Treo is a veritable bouillabaisse of software from vendors around the planet and I'm starting to wonder about the wisdom of this approach.

Recently when driving with a friend in the backseat I heard his Treo startup chime no less than a dozen times. His Treo was caught in a "boot loop" familiar to anyone with the device and copiously documented in Palm's knowledge base article on Resetting Your Device

Don't get me wrong, I'm not slamming my Treo. I couldn't live without it, I'm just starting to doubt the wisdom of device as important as a mobile phone that's totally open to third parties. My Treo 700p gets finicky sometimes and likes to reboot itself spontaneously. Other times it just needs a good reboot to keep it happy.

Granted, I could strip off all the third party software that's installed on it, but what good what that do me? Sure, I'd have the bare minimums, contacts, calendar, email and Web. But what about my RSS client, password vault and IM applications? And No Limit Texas Hold'Em and my ringtone player? Ok the last two are frivolous, but I'd be handicapped without the others.

Which gets me to Apple. I've been a vocal critic of the iPhone's missing features (Part 1, Part 2) and one of the major things that I've complained about is Apple's closed API and lack of support for third-party applications. But the more I think about it, maybe Apple is doing the right thing here. I mean, do you really want to have your iPhone rebooting every six seconds so that you can have a wacky Scoobie Doo ringtone?

Apple can pull this off if they provide a few more iPhone applications that what they've demo'd at Macworld SF 2007. I really want to have a VOIP client like Skype or perhaps iChatOut on iPhone but fear that the suits at Cingular/AT&T vetoed that as part of Apple's contract. (Steve: Please say it ain't so!) At minimum I need iPhone to have an IM (iChat?) and RSS client and a strong crypto password vault (Keychain mobile?), but they'd really make me happy if they also built-in MP3 ringtones and ported that great Hold'Em game from the iPod.

What are your core applications that you need on iPhone if you were to purchased a US$600 closed phone? Chime in in the TalkBack below.

Topics: iPhone

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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