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iphone-beaver.gifI’m starting to think this subject warrants its own WordPress Category. As I previously disclosed, despite the fact that Apple is at war with its users on the iPhone and other platforms, iBought. I seriously love the thing. It has a great user interface, the applications are easy to use, and when unlocked and jailbroken, I can add my own applications. I now have a phone that runs BSD. Wow. At the Web 2.0 conference last week, I went completely without my MacBook Pro and relied solely on my iPhone to stay in touch, surf, etc.

Since I made my purchase, though, there have been three major developments:

  1. Apple announced there will be an SDK. This seems (because of odd timing) that either the announcement or possibly the entire program is the result of bowing under pressure built up within the developer (and user) marketplace, or the fact that with jailbreaking they’ve lost control of the 3rd party developers already.
  2. Various analysis is leading to a consensus that Apple profits as much as $565 per iPhone, assuming you keep it hooked up to AT&T. Roughly $432 of that comes from the payments from AT&T to Apple over the course of your two-year contract.
  3. AT&T said it has activated 1.1M iPhones, but Apple says it has sold more than 1.4M iPhones. This means that there are 250K-300K iPhones which have obviously been unlocked. Unlocking your iPhones means that Apple is losing out on almost $130 million in gross profit over two years already. AT&T loses entirely. Ouch.

So, what’s a self-respecting geek to do? The reality is that the iPhone is enticing. Even though the call failure rate is actually pretty high (not sure if this is true of locked iPhones) it is an excellent phone with great acoustics and with a tremendous UI.

I’ve noticed some real flaws, of course: The fact that this is the first Apple device with a keyboard that can’t copy & paste in over 10 years should be embarrassing to Steve-O, as would the fact that you can’t Search anywhere on the platform. The fact that although it has Bluetooth you can’t talk to it from your bluetooth-enabled Mac rather contradicts Apple’s entire modus operandi with regard to connectivity, as does the astonishing iRealization that it inexplicably uses iTunes, and not iSync to.. uh… Sync.. Ouch.

As a new unlocked iPhone user, Apple still might be at war with you. But the reality is that these problems are largely software-fixable. Apple will solve them, or some plucky third-party developer will step in and hand-grenade Apple’s stranglehold on the users.

The best way to play the iPhone game is not to abstain from purchasing one (I know you want to) until RSJ opens the platform properly… The best way to launch your missile attack and enter the iPhone war is to buy one, unlock it immediately, and take it to your favourite GSM carrier (using it with or without the data plan — I’m finding free WiFi to be quite readily available most of the places I want to do email etc.).

In this way, you vote with your feet. And your wallet. And any vote against AT&T is a good one, in my view.

And if half or more of iPhone buyers point their radios at “anyone but AT&T” it’ll start to hit Apple where it lives, and they’re realize that the Blackberry-style lock-in is not the appropriate business model for invoking change in the wireless industry.