Is Steve Jobs Manipulating iPhone Customers?

Steve Jobs finally gave some of his most
avid customers what they were clamoring
for when he announced in mid-October
that Apple would make its iPhone and
iPod Touch products accessible to third-party
software developers. But some people
want to run lots of applications on
the mobile devices without waiting for
the February release of the official developers’

Less than two weeks after Jobs’
announcement, a group of those folks figured
out a way to hack the hermetically
sealed devices and install software to their
hearts’ content.

The unveiling of the AppSnap program,
available at, followed reports
on hacks to free the iPhone from the
AT&T wireless network to which Apple has
bound it. Both those stories seemed like
news of desperados breaking into a bank
to deposit money.

It’s almost enough to make you think
Jobs is playing his customers, making his
beautiful, market-shifting product just inaccessible
enough to
drive users wild with
desire, the way a nightclub owner puts up
velvet ropes and posts a clipboard-wielding
bouncer at the door. But at least some
of the control-freakery is real.

Apple is serious enough about dictating user behavior
that it recently updated iPhone software
to make it difficult if not impossible
to ditch AT&T, and those who attempt the
feat may end up disabling their phones.

It’s hard to imagine the passion that
motivates Apple aficionados striking users
of other, more prosaic tech products. Most
users, especially business users, see technology
as a tool, not an object of desire or
a status symbol, and the thought of vendors
teasing the availability of widely requested
features seems absurd. That is until
Apple at least becomes a major player in
the enterprise.

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