Clearly I'm not alone in criticising Apple's forthcoming media-oriented mobile phone but, unlike some, I still don't think it's actually going to be a bad product, just an unnecessarily limited one.

Critics of the iPhone are to be found everywhere - on blogs, in magazines and even on television - but Apple's products always attract a disproportionate amount of both praise and criticism.

In response to one of the more common attacks on the iPhone, Wired News's Leander Kahney makes a pretty convincing argument in favour of Apple locking-down the platform.


While he's [Jobs] exaggerating that one unruly app will take down the network, it can certainly take down a single phone. Just look what the open-platform approach has done to Windows (and, yes, Mac OS X too, to a lesser extent) -- it's a world of viruses, Trojans and spyware. How to avoid? Make the iPhone closed. Jobs' motivation is not aesthetics, but user experience. Like most of Apple's products, the software, hardware and services users access will be tightly integrated.

Which is fine except that doesn't totally convince me.

He is absolutely correct when he says Steve Jobs brought on some of the negativity himself by comparing the iPhone to business-oriented devices like the Blackberry which allow users to open the likes of Word documents. Obviously this is not the iPhone's market.

My problem is that Jobs's claim that allowing users to install their own applications could lead to problems is rather more troublesome.

In my opinion, there is no compelling reason to deny access to the iPhone's hardware other than the desire to provide a 100 per cent coherent user-experience. Which is fair enough, but the argument that providing access would make the phone unstable and prone to viruses doesn't cut it with me. So what if it does? No-one is asking for access to the iPhone's GSM stack. At worst, the ability to install software would create problems on the user's phone itself, not the network. If it's really bad, flash the firmware and off you go again. A major nuisance, but not the end of the world.

So: will I buy one? Who knows. My first generation iPod is a bit the worse for wear these days. I don't actually like mobile phones but do need to have one for work purposes, so I would consider an iPhone - if the contract isn't too bad.

And therein lies the rub. I have nothing but negative feelings about any company that regularly sends me bills or ties me up in incomprehensible, byzantine contracts - that's just basic consumer psychology. As Apple's branding strategy is so tight, it could end up being on the receiving end of some of that negativity itself.

Later this week I will describe exactly what I would like from a mobile phone. And why neither phones nor computers should be considered epoch-making.