iPhoney (updated)

I was kinda enthusiastic about the iPhone…then I found out from Macintouch that it’s a closed, locked down unit.

Forget about installing software to use it as an e-book reader, or reading Word documents or PDFs. You’re not going to be using it to give business presentations. Forget about downloading music via the WiFi connection. Forget about writing your own neat applications and running them. There’s no Xcode iPhone developer kit, and Apple apparently has no plans to produce one for public use.

So basically, it’s a phone that does exactly the same stuff my current phone does, but with a much prettier interface. I’m sure Apple will sell a boatload of them to the same people who bought the Motorola RAZR because it looked cool. But to me, it’s not that interesting unless it’s open.

The fact that you need to sign a 2 year contract with Cingular makes it even less attractive. Cingular’s SMS is flaky to the point of near uselessness, and their Internet connectivity is expensive compared to any other carrier. I’m sure their iPhone contract will require a monthly reaming that will make my current unpleasant cellphone bill look like a bargain.

If you like the idea of what the iPhone could have been, though, there are a couple of upcoming alternatives worth considering.

OpenMoko is a Linux-based phone with an iPhone-like touch interface. It’ll be about half the price of the iPhone, and not locked to Cingular. It’s also going to be open to developers.

The Greenphone is a more traditional phone design (i.e. one with buttons). Again, it runs Linux and is open to third party developers.

Also, since it seems it isn’t common knowledge: Apple didn’t invent the multitouch technology as Steve Jobs claimed. It was actually developed by a company called Fingerworks. Said company mysteriously shut down, and the owners refused to say who had purchased their operation, citing confidentiality agreements. However, one of the founders of the company was subsequently confirmed to be working for Apple.