Is Apple evil or do people fear them?

Is Apple evil or do people fear Jobs?

The iPhoneDevCamp was a great experience for me.’  Lots of developers, lots of new ideas, lots of fun. I found it surprising though how many people still develop on this platform despite how badly Apple behaves towards its community. In San Francisco at iPhoneDevCamp there were about 500 developers that played for two days delivering an incredible amount of software (46 projects, in total), some of it of incredible value and power.

For me, used to the open exchange of information between free software crowds, it was very surprising to see how much iPhone/Apple fans love their gadgets. Despite the tight NDAs they need to sign, they’re still happy to code for free and give lots of value back to Apple. It makes me wonder.

Many of my friends keep asking me what I think of the iPhone, if it’s good and whether they should buy one. They are all non-techie people that want a very good phone and are willing to pay the extra money for a good handset that does email and web navigation, and a decent phone too. For such kind of customers, the iPhone seems to be the only choice out there. Lets face it: there are no free software alternatives out there. And even the proprietary platforms are not up to the task. Windows Mobile is not designed to be cool (no Microsoft product is, except the Xbox, maybe) and its usability compares poorly to iPhone OS. BlackBerry and Symbian are boring… There is no comparison: iPhone has raised the bar for all of them and they deserve the attention of the market.

Now, the question is: will I ever get one? Let me put it this way: I will consider buying one when I will be allowed to install software that is not coming from the Apple Store AND when there will be a VoIP application for it. Does it mean I’ll never get one? It’s up to Apple (like the calendar API problem, that is hurting Funambol). I’m curious to see what the iPhone Dev Camp crowd thinks of this problem or if they consider this a problem at all.

Like me, others are concerned with Apple’s DRM policy.’  Joshua Gay, campaign manager of the FSF, wrote Why free software and Apple’s iPhone don’t mix:

Apple’s license says that to write and distribute software for the iPhone, developers have to agree that any freedom users should have to modify and share their software is secondary to the paramount requirement of observing and protecting Apple’s DRM system.

[…] Apple […] want[s] to control what users do with their computers.

Write to Steve Jobs and let him know that you won’t buy an iPhone until Apple will empower users to develop and install free software on the device. Let FSF know what he says.