Message to iPhone Quitters: Quit Your Whiny Tantrums

Select members of the tech elite are leading a backlash against Apple's smartphone and its perceived failures. This silly backlash needs its own backlash. We're here to help.

There's a bizarre meme developing on your favorite Internets: high-profile iPhone users and app makers very publicly announcing that they're ditching Apple. Basically it's a throwing-toys-out-of-the-pram stunt. It's dumb.

Broken iPhoneLook at these two recent stories to see what we mean. First up is Steven Frank, a Mac software developer who threw a mini-tantrum when Apple decided to shut out Google Voice apps for the iPhone. Despairing at the way Apple has handled the whole iPhone Application approval process (i.e. badly), he said he would ditch his iPhone--and any iPhone OS system (i.e. the rumored iTablet)--and get a Palm Pre. So far, so very silly. But then Apple's Senior VP Phil Schiller emailed Frank and tried to allay his fears. According to Phil, Apple is actively "listening to your feedback" and trying to address some of the more obvious flaws in the system.

Next up is the powerful founder of TechCrunch, Michael Arrington. Over the self-same issue, namely Apple's handling of the Google Voice app, he published a piece titled "I Quit The iPhone." It's garnered 855 comments, 1626 re-Tweets, and 300 Diggs as of this writing. He sets out his reasoning in voluminous detail, but in the interest of sparing you the full blast of his self-important stuffiness, here are some key quotes:

"I have loved the iPhone, but now I am quitting the iPhone."
"I'm abandoning the iPhone and AT&T. I will grudgingly pay the $175 AT&T termination fee and then I will move on to another device."
"What finally put me over the edge? It wasn't the routinely dropped calls, something you can only truly understand once you have owned an iPhone."
"Apple and AT&T are now blocking the iPhone version of the Google Voice app. Why? Because they absolutely don't want people doing exactly what I'm doing - moving their phone number to Google and using the carrier as a dumb pipe."

Okay, Michael, we get the message, and you're at the vanguard of quite the trendy little iPhone backlash bubbling up around the Net, all featuring the same charming, throwing-hands-in-the-air despair.

So here's our response: Shut the heck up, people. If you want to burst into tears while playing with the other kids (metaphorically, mind you) and take your ball home in a huff to play alone--good luck with that. How many people are in the lucky position of being able to quit using an expensive device--of any type, in fact--and pay for the privilege of a new one just because they dislike a policy decision by some remote management team? Let's just note that Arrington has "many iPod Touches laying around [the] office to test out new apps."

The iPhone has turned the whole cell phone/smartphone world on its head. It's amazing. It's fun to use. Every so often Apple releases a firmware rewrite for the phone that adds in a bunch of new functions that effectively give existing users a whole new device--for free. We're not Apple apologists: It's far from the very best device for each and every of its diverse capabilities. It is flawed, but it's still selling pretty darn well. The App Store is a whole new innovation, and it has 60,000-plus apps available for user's delectation and delight ... soon it'll have 100,000 on sale. Think about the ridiculously steep growth curve in app numbers--born of fast device sales and passionate app developers--and realize that it's tantamount to a runaway train. Anyone managing that kind of explosive, beyond-wildest-dreams growth is going to make a few mistakes (Twitter being another example).

iPhone LoveApple, to its credit, is listening. Consider Frank's story: A senior exec for a multi-billion-dollar consumer-electronics giant emailed him personally to say his company is taking note of the issues. A generous move by Schiller, and a successful one because Frank is now considering coming back to the fold. It's not the first time, either. Schiller also emailed Daring Fireball's John Gruber when he wrote a viciously disparaging blog post about Apple's rejection of a dictionary app. Schiller went to the trouble of investigating, then explained what had happened in such a convincing way that Gruber recanted a whole bunch. Apple is coming off as a parent that picks up a crying baby when it appears there's a good reason to do so.

Some of the complaints have centered around AT&T's failures. It's a phone network, guys. It's a commodity that's basically the same as Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and all the rest. Worldwide, O2, Vodafone, Optimus, Orange, and all the other iPhone carriers in 70 countries have similar strengths and weaknesses. They will all drop calls, be late in pinging you about important voicemails, and overcharge you for data roaming. Deal with it. How's Verizon's App Store? Oh, it doesn't have one? But one's in the works and when it launches Verizon plans to push handset makers out of the way to run it themselves? How 'bout that? If there's anything more tiresome than griping about your wireless carrier, please let me know.

The App Store is not the "Democratic People's Republic of Apple." You can complain that Apple isn't running things exactly as you would like/must have/think would be cool/damn well deserve. Do let us know when Jobs hands over the reins of the company to you. The iPhone is a pretty amazing toy to play with that didn't exist less than three years ago. Apple is pouring its revenues into creating even more cool toys for you to play with. Get over yourselves. Now.

[via TechCrunch, DaringFireball]

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8 Comments

  • Kit Eaton

    Good grief, chaps! You need to recognize an opinion piece when it pops up. And look up the definitions of "subjective" and "objective" too. Also a "fluff piece", I always thought, was edgeless and empty, whereas I'm pushing a pithy, straightforward argument here. ;) Quit moaning about AT&T too--it's just an American issue: I know many Euro types who are extremely happy with their iPhone service from their regional networks. Also, does liking a product automatically confer fanyboyness? In that case I'm a tea fanboy: I think it's a far superior hot beverage to coffee, even though I have the occasional cup of joe.

    The main thrust of this piece stands: The iPhone is not perfect, nor is Apple's management of its ecosystem. But it is pretty darn cool, a synthesis of form and function, possibly the best smartphone yet devised...and there's no real point in whining about how it *should* work. There is no *should*...Apple can choose to do as it pleases. And, given rocketing worldwide sales, its business model seems to be working out pretty okay.

  • Ayush Shrestha

    "It's garnered 855 comments, 1626 re-Tweets, and 300 Diggs as of this writing." So you're not above criticizing somebody for expressing their displeasure or above publishing a fluff piece for the sake of capitalizing on buzz generated by the very person you're criticizing? The word hack comes to mind.

    "How many people are in the lucky position of being able to quit using an expensive device--of any type, in fact--and pay for the privilege of a new one just because they dislike a policy decision by some remote management team?" Those creating the fuss now are doing so because of the implications of Apple's action, not the action itself. So while the average consumer couldn't care about this at a policy level they will eventually feel the itch at a lower level and will make the switch. As for making the switch, most carriers offer annual upgrade options and massive rebates for long term contracts. So to answer your question, most people are...

    Incidentally I am an iPhone user but not for long.

  • M C

    Glad to know the iPhone fanboys/apologists are grabbing their megaphones in support of der Fuhrer. We dont need to expect completely subjective journalism, but is a post like this necessary? Just to clarify, if Ford only wanted you to fill up with Ford brand gasoline, would you be so quick to queue up at whatever price they asked?

    While its true the network issues people experience are more the fault of AT&T than Apple, whose fault was the exclusive contract? Apple limited the functionality of their product by signing into deals with a vendor that provides what many consider inadequate service - Apple didn't have to limit access to their phone.

    Users have the option to Jailbreak their phone, indeed some have even been able to take their iPhone's off-network, options exist to circumvent the issues people are dropping their phones over, but I wholly support the sentiment of those who see the technology they've purchased held back in the name of making greater profits for enormous multi-national corporations.

    After all, who's lookin out for them?

  • Kelly Olivier

    I wish I could see one of these articles written subjectively. It is not hard to see that the author is just an apple fanboy tired of being told that his device and the no-sharing, DRM loving "we will block anything that makes our phones better, but is using a competitor" company is not really as cool as he thinks it is. I wish they would have more of a we report you decide mentality. You don't have to pick a side. Whatever happened to subjective journalism?

  • Madhavi Jagdish

    I ditch the iPhone because: A) I was hurt and mugged by 2 people who pushed me to the ground and stole it less than a month after I bought it and signed on a two-year contract B) ATT & Apple were completely unsympathetic even though I have a police report (surprise, surprise) C) they do not offer insurance on such an expensive device.
    All of these reasons made me quit the iPhone and Att, I'd rather spend my money on a device that will be useful, i.e. if it gets lost or stolen in the future, I can replace it for a $100 deductible instead of shelling out $500, Unfortunately, I am not one of these people: "How many people are in the lucky position of being able to quit using an expensive device--of any type, in fact--and pay for the privilege of a new one just because they dislike a policy decision by some remote management team?"

  • Jason Cooper

    ''they dislike a policy decision by some remote management team''

    It's a lot more than this. You excuse phone networks in your article due to the fact that they're a 'phone network' and that's the way it's going to be. I'm not buying it. The whole Google Voice and iPhone situation is an example of users wanting as little to do with their phone network as possible for the very reasons you stated, this isn't a good thing and it certianly doesn't have to be the way the phone networks tell us it should be.

    Apple have too many fingers in too many pies for the iPhone to be the true open platform people want and it shows. Apple has always been user-focused and given the user what they want so it 'just works' but now they can't.

  • Max Arroyo

    Good points all. Nice to see Fast Company write something objective about the iPhone.

    Unfortunately, you neglected to mention the biggest whiner of all - fellow Fast Company hack Chris Dannen who wrote the piece of trash titled 7 More Reasons to Ditch Your iPhone:

    http://www.fastcompany.com/blo...

    Max Arroyo, Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Jason Cooper

    ''they dislike a policy decision by some remote management team''

    It's a lot more than this. You excuse phone networks in your article due to the fact that they're a 'phone network' and that's the way it's going to be. I'm not buying it. The whole Google Voice and iPhone situation is an example of users wanting as little to do with their phone network as possible for the very reasons you stated, this isn't a good thing and it certianly doesn't have to be the way the phone networks tell us it should be.

    Apple have too many fingers in too many pies for the iPhone to be the true open platform people want and it shows. Apple has always been user-focused and given the user what they want so it 'just works' but now they can't.