Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Consumer

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    Is the SDK of the iPhone sufficently open to allow a third-party to write an MMS implementation? (Windows Mobile is!)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    On the MMS thing, it is very strange.

    It's strange if you think the person paying for the jesusPhone is the customer, rather than the phone company. No MMS? Well, users can just use their $250/mo bandwidth to upload the photo to iMac and then all their friends can use _their_ $250/mo bandwidth to view it there.

    PXTs are much cheaper. iPhones force you to a higher-cost model to share user-generated content. Doesn't that sound like something a carrier would love?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Something I just thought is that the lack of MMS (and other 3G features like video calling or Press-To-Talk (PTT)) is one reason for the high package cost of the iPhone.

    The mobile telcos' subsidy model is based around likely consumer spend, so a phone that has access to spendy features will get a bigger subsidy for the plan price. Since the iPhone has minimal 3G featurishness and drives revenue streams like music downloads into iTunes rather than telco services like Vodafone Live, it doesn't attract much of a subsidy.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Is the SDK of the iPhone sufficently open to allow a third-party to write an MMS implementation? (Windows Mobile is!)

    WM SDK actually allows you to write the full protocol handler, and install it into the communications stack? MMS isn't just the messages, it's the way they're sent. Roughly corresponds with layer 2 and 3 of the OSI model, if that helps you.
    I could understand it letting you develop applications that leverage MMS, but writing a whole separate communications protocol is a pretty huge level of flexibility.
    Assuming you're right, I'd be absolutely flabbergasted if the iPhone SDK allows such things.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    That's spooky. Two people posited roughly the same thing in the space of two minutes. And they're probably right.

    Silly me, roger, thinking that the iJobs is building for the consumer. You're right, it's a phone designed around ensuring that Apple gets the most money, by way of its cut of telco revenues, as possible. Nobody outside Apple got a say in the design of 1.0, if the reports at the time are accurate, but that doesn't mean that iSteve wasn't looking ahead to the revenue stream that he was dragging from a reluctant AT&T's bent-over form.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    That's promising, if those problems have been dealt with. Specifically, I was talking mainly about the sound problems related to the supposedly inferior D/A converter in the Classic (does this not apply to the 80 Gb?),

    Sadly, no as that Apple thread indicates, Apple haven't sorted out the sound issues on the Classic (I have a 160)..it remains trebly and furry. It's not overwhelmingly awful but it's annoying and should never have left the factory as it was. I only use mine at the Gym & in the air so I can live with it. I've long since passed on it in the car and returned to CDs at it sounds rather worse through speakers than headphones.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I'm looking at the MMS spec. I thought it used TCP/IP to the server, but I might be wrong in that - it's written in a special style that makes it pretty hard to understand.

    If it's implemented below IP level, then it would need a device driver change, I think. There'd also be a question, as most WM devices are dual core, around the capability of the radio side. Device drivers can be written by third parties, but need to be signed with a privileged certificate, which involves some sort of testing process (though not on every phone - things like Symbols which are targeted for enterprise use tend not to have signing requirements).

    Anyway, just to be less technical, basically I think what Matthew's implying is that Apple and the telcos are not in a happy relationship (unlike say Nokia and the telcos). So Vodafone is selling the iPhone as a matter of obligation, but is disinclined to offer it at an attractive price point.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I'm looking at the MMS spec. I thought it used TCP/IP to the server, but I might be wrong in that

    It works through WAP, if this Wikipedia page is correct. WAP runs at layer four, rather than layer three as I'd originally thought. It's roughly analogous to UDP, and over an IP bearer it's treated the same. So MMS can be written with a sufficiently open SDK, but there's still the issue of installing code into the communications stack.

    I think what Matthew's implying is that Apple and the telcos are not in a happy relationship (unlike say Nokia and the telcos). So Vodafone is selling the iPhone as a matter of obligation, but is disinclined to offer it at an attractive price point.

    Certainly the gen-1 iPhone relationship with AT&T was a meeting of unwilling minds, and when Apple tried to sell the revenue-sharing model outside the US they got told to disappear and engage in sexual relations several times.
    Apple is demanding a pretty hefty "subsidy" from the telcos for the "privilege" of being allowed to sell the iPhone, and that doesn't lead to happy telcos. Telcos like power, and telling people what to do. They are much less willing to dance to anyone else's tune.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Thanks for the report, Simon. I still don't know if the 80 is affected (though I can't see why it wouldn't be). Might have to, sadly, pass on the Classic for now.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Southgate,

    MMS still confuses the hell out of me; despite what's been written here and that which I read on Wikipedia.

    I get the feeling that MMS doesn't work out the same across all devices / networks - is that accurate?

    Im still not anti the iPhone however, when I can afford to I will probably buy it outright but only have a normal plan (no mobile data). And given how little I use my current cellphone anyway, it'll just be a fun ipod / gaming toy :-)

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Thanks for the report, Simon. I still don't know if the 80 is affected (though I can't see why it wouldn't be). Might have to, sadly, pass on the Classic for now.

    But what really got on my wick last week was Quicktime's nuking of my CD drive. I mentioned it in another thread but here goes again (I'm guessing the DRM thread is on most folk's ignore list now). It happened when I downloaded the qt 7.5 update via Apple Updater. Bang..CD drive gone..disappeared from my Explorer window (although the Bios could still boot off it). There are pages and pages of people complaining about this and seeking solutions. Most are fixed by a registry tweak which disables itunes burning and ripping ability but it didn't help me.

    Eventually I took the laptop into the HP centre here and a young guy sighed..said it was extraordinarily common, and ran a batch file on the PC which fixed it. He wrote it himself as Apple have only been promising a fix for a year or three.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Eventually I took the laptop into the HP centre here and a young guy sighed..said it was extraordinarily common, and ran a batch file on the PC which fixed it. He wrote it himself as Apple have only been promising a fix for a year or three.

    QuickTime on the Mac is a layer of the operating system and a core part of the user experience. It's a major port for Windows and still not always a happy one.

    But isn't this also a problem with conflicts with device filters installed by other third-party apps -- and with the way Windows allows third-party apps to hose parts of the system?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Is the SDK of the iPhone sufficently open to allow a third-party to write an MMS implementation? (Windows Mobile is!)

    It is. There's at least one MMS app at the 1.0 stage, a video capture app for the camera on the way, etc.

    Also (to answer Simon's point further up), the 2.0 software includes viewers for all Office application types. No, I can't edit an Excel spreadsheet on my phone, but I don't actually want to.

    The lack of copy-and-paste functionality is vexing. I can only guess that they haven't come up with a user action for it that's regarded as satisfactory. And why won't the keyboard tilt around to landscape mode for email composition? Bah.

    OTOH, the web browsing experience is superb, YouTube looks great (aspecially via Wi-Fi), GPS/maps works, the third-party games have met with approval from the household experts, and compared to the button-palooza of a Blackberry, it's very clean and simple to use.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    Agree with all the above, Russell. However, it'd be nice if we could get outgoing email to work. It's not happening - either via Wi-Fi or 3G. This despite the network settings being identical to our macs at home. Grump.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 172 posts Report Reply

  • Alst,

    Russell, I'm sure a lot of people would be interested to know how quickly you use up data on it. Would personally be fascinated to know whether someone (tech savvy) like yourself gets close to that 250MB level over the month.

    Have seen screenshots of the usage setting which splits out the cellular data use, so apparently is very easy to keep track of what you are using 3G vs Wifi.

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    There's at least one MMS app at the 1.0 stage

    But not if you have a virgin phone. It only works with jailbroken iPhones, surprise, surprise.

    That an MMS app can be written doesn't surprise me. Anything can be done if you're a sufficiently competent coder. But there's still the Apple SDK T&C to abide by if you want the app to be distributed through official channels, and having not included MMS for two generations of the phone it's pretty certain that Apple won't be signing off on an MMS application through the AppStore.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Would personally be fascinated to know whether someone (tech savvy) like yourself gets close to that 250MB level over the month.

    I'd more interested in whether someone not "tech savvy" gets close to it. The clueful, such as RB, will be painfully aware of their data usage, mentally cataloguing every byte in order to avoid paying $100/GB in overage. It's the neophytes who will think "Ohh, purty, new, shiny, toy. Must play!" without a thought for, or even understanding of, the consequences. They'll rush off and watch YouTube, play with Google Maps and the accelerometers, get some music off iTunes, etc. And then they'll get to the end of the month and faint at their enormous bill.
    My very clueful boss got a 1.0 when they first came out, and his first month's bill was > $700. He hadn't even realised that he was using so much data, and as a person who's written traffic billing systems he's got a pretty good idea of how the game is played.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Agree with all the above, Russell. However, it'd be nice if we could get outgoing email to work. It's not happening - either via Wi-Fi or 3G. This despite the network settings being identical to our macs at home. Grump.

    Er, yeah, I need to nut out why my GMail's not authenticating too ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'd more interested in whether someone not "tech savvy" gets close to it. The clueful, such as RB, will be painfully aware of their data usage, mentally cataloguing every byte in order to avoid paying $100/GB in overage.

    I'm very much looking at the 3G capacity as "only when strictly necessary" -- the phone is an excellent Wi-Fi device, and that's where Vodafone has dropped the ball. Where are my Wi-Fi hotspots? I don't even expect it to be free, but I would have expected a modest add-on to my monthly package to cover an urban network. Other carriers are doing it.

    Driving past the university down Symonds Street yesterday was interesting -- the boys were seeing no end of Wi-Fi networks coming up on the phone.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Driving past the university down Symonds Street yesterday was interesting -- the boys were seeing no end of Wi-Fi networks coming up on the phone.

    Yeah, this place radiates so much that one half expects long-term inmates to produce mutant kids. Most of the networks are protected, though, usually by WPA or WPA2, so it's not the best of places to go hunting for free connectivity. And of the few open ones, most of them still won't give you a useful connection since they require authentication back to the university's SSO system.
    Symonds St and surrounds are veritable treasure troves of truly open AP's, however. Lots of clueless residential users of WiFi who have unsecured devices. I'd love to take an Eee out with network recording software installed and go walking around the area.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    But isn't this also a problem with conflicts with device filters installed by other third-party apps -- and with the way Windows allows third-party apps to hose parts of the system?

    so it seems but the guy in the HP service centre seemed to think this was usually associated with the third party software licensed in by Apple, the Gear software. Either way, since Apple know about this, and clearly a solution is not that difficult, surely the company should have made some effort to resolve it rather than continuing to offer software which is causing the OS that the overwhelming bulk of QT / iTunes is run under, problems.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Alst,

    I'd more interested in whether someone not "tech savvy" gets close to it. The clueful, such as RB, will be painfully aware of their data usage, mentally cataloguing every byte in order to avoid paying $100/GB in overage. It's the neophytes who will think "Ohh, purty, new, shiny, toy. Must play!"

    Oh, I'd pretty much say it's a given that in 6 weeks time the Herald et al will be gleefully running the stories of massive iPhone bills as the first month rolls over.

    That's about the time I'd expect/hope to see Vodafone rethink current data limits.

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    That's about the time I'd expect/hope to see Vodafone rethink current data limits.

    *laughs hysterically*
    Like Telecom rethought their overage charges when people went to the media about getting umpteen-thousand-dollar ISP bills? Or Vodafone rethought their roaming charges after people went to the media about their umpteen-thousand-dollar roaming bills from going to Aus?
    *wanders out the door giggling* :P

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Alst,

    Yes, yes, possibly wishful thinking,

    but as many have stated, the launch of the iPhone was, all things considered, hardly the PR dream that Vodafone may have anticipated regardless of their "exciting" iPhone plans.

    The new (much more palatable) casual rate for prepay data coming 28th July is going to now be available to iPhone users thanks to the clever work of some smart people over at geekzone.co.nz which was probably not part of Vodafone's planned script.

    So maybe the pencils will have to be sharpened a little to entice people to the plans once more.

    We'll see.

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    A review of Zittrain's The Future of the Internet which refers to the iPhone as a http://www.newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=2729/deadening technology. Please nobody shoot the messenger.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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