"Hong Kong is now the one and only country in the world where you can buy an unlocked contract-free iPhone directly from the online Apple Store," writes John Gruber, aka Daring Fireball. He goes on to answer my plea for an explanation of Apple's motives. You can read his full-length post, or my 100-word edit:
I waited until today to post this, in hopes someone would explain why Apple now sells unlocked 3G iPhones in Hong Kong. Previously, the phones were locked into a two-year contract with Hutchison. The AP reports that unlocked iPhones were "widely available on the black market," but that's also true on eBay. Anyone? Gruber?
The coming iPhone-vs.-Android fight will be drawn along clear lines: Keyboard versus touchscreen. And for phone applications, open bazaar versus walled garden. While Google talks up the openness of its platform, Apple keeps plugging leaks through which iPhone app developers can thwart Apple's ruthless management of its App Store. The latest: Podcaster app developer Alamerica had been rejected by Apple. Someone at Alamerica figured out a workaround: They could hand out ad hoc licenses — meant for development and testing — in return for a $10 donation.Not only did it end-run the App Store, it cut Apple out of its 30 percent take on the fee. No more, though. Apple has shut down access to the ad hoc license system. I wouldn't go so far as to claim Apple's iron-fist approach will cause consumers to switch phones. But there's an obvious angle for Google: Play up the goofy apps like Pull My Finger that Steve Jobs wouldn't touch. Because if you've ever watched a bunch of drunk twentysomethings playing with their phones in a nightclub, you know that stupid and entertaining often beats pretty and functional.
The New York Times pored over the details of AT&T's new overseas data plans for the iPhone. Not only is it pricey, but absent-minded travelers (that's "I believe I'm slightly autistic" in the Valley, or in New York, "Anyone seen my Adderall?") will find themselves paying a lot more than they planned:
"This is a known iPhone bug that is being fixed in the next software update in September," says a one-line reply from His Steveness Himself to an AppleInsider reader who had written to complain about his iPhone's third-party apps being disabled. Yes, it's really him. Jobs has been spotted in customers' inboxes in 2006, 2007, and earlier this year. Jobs's replies are usually limited to a simple yes-we're-fixing-that. But sometimes, the Dan Lyons version of his demeanor peeks through: "I suggest you calm down. Everyone knows the issue and it is being worked. Steve."
A gaggle of iPhone programmers have figured out a way to solve the iPhone's most embarrassing shortcoming: The inability to cut and paste text between applications. OpenClip creates a shared clipboard that doesn't violate Apple's technical restrictions on iPhone applications. It works, but only for applications that are updated to use OpenClip to access the clipboard. The demo starts at 0:58 into the jargony video report above.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple's engineers are working on a software upgrade to fix problems with the iPhone 3G's "immature chipset and radio protocol stack," the most likely cause for complaints that the new models drop calls a lot when in 3G mode. Apple uses a custom chip made by Infineon, a German supplier. Officially, no one is saying anything. In reality, "people familiar with the matter" are getting out the word for the companies involved. (Photo by AP/Paul Sakuma)
Dropped calls. Flaky high-speed connections. Short battery life. The San Francisco Chronicle rounds up not one, but two unhappy iPhone users and an analyst who backs them up to prove that this new iPhone thing isn't working as planned. Not to get all Fake Steve on these guys, but look: The problem isn't the iPhone. It's you two. The iPhone is so popular that AT&T's networks can't handle the load. The onboard apps — so easy to install, just go to the store, click, and boom, it's that simple — are so hypnotic that you're running out your batteries playing with them. Pull your pants up and look in the mirror. If you can't handle it that your phone is more popular than you are, maybe it's time you and the iPhone went your separate ways.
A Macworld reader sent in a screenshot of a charmingly credible HTML email that claims to be from Apple: "We were unable to process your most recent payment. Did you recently change your bank, phone number or credit card?" It's convincing not just because it's pretty, but because this sort of error from MobileMe at this point would seem like a minor hurdle — I'm still trying to figure out how my wife's name got onto my account in the conversion. That'll teach me to sneak her credit card.
Apple's .Mac email — relaunched as MobileMe in conjunction with the iPhone 3G two Fridays ago — is still flying as crooked as Drinky Crow on payday. MacRumors has aggregated customer gripes. Apple's hard-to-swallow response: Only 1 percent of customers are having problems after Apple's server migration. MobileMe mail works for stationary old me, but see these screenshots from readers: