The apple you’ve got in your eye

The Free Software Foundation‘s Defective By Design campaign against Digital Restrictions Management proposes to ask “Apple Geniuses”—about the restrictions that the Apple iPhone imposes on its users and software developers who want to write programs that will run on it.

Nice idea, i thought, i may do it, but i need better directions, so i left this sincere comment:

This looks like a fun activity, and i may try doing it at my local Apple store, but there are a few problems that i’d like to clear out before i embark on the mission.

1. I am in Israel. This questionnaire is quite US-centric. While Apple products may be more familiar to people in the US, where they are common in some schools and workplaces, it is not so in Israel. Here, until recently Apple computers were used only by a few graphic designers, and only recently Apple started marketing them to the general public. iPods are quite common here, and so are iPhones, but none of them are marketed half as heavily as they are in the US. Also, the last question is completely US-centric. Can you please improve it by making it more generic and international?

2. All of this questionnaire assumes that i must trust FSF’s claims blindly. I do trust the FSF and i strongly believe that it acts for a good cause and i assume that it doesn’t try to lie to me. Nevertheless, a few links to sources that prove the claims about the restrictions imposed by iPhone would strongly improve my point and my confidence when talking to the “genius”. For example: a direct link to a Nokia website that proves that any developer can upload their programs to a Nokia phone, a direct link to a website with Steve Jobs’ speech against DRM, a direct link to an Apple website that outlines the restrictions on software that can be used on the iPhone, a direct link to a website that proves that it is indeed impossible to play Ogg Vorbis-encoded music on the iPhone etc. Also, i don’t even know what does it mean to “activate” an iPhone.

3. The FSF expects people to refuse non-free software, and all Apple products have it, so it would be a healthy assumption that Free Software activists would not be familiar with Apple products, style, lingo, etc. This questionnaire, however, assumes that i am familiar with these things. I have never used any Apple product at all, so i would feel quite awkward discussing them with an Apple-style person, who are also rumored to be rather arrogant about their stylishness. So could you please improve on that point and give a few tips on talking to Apple people?

Thanks in advance.

Talking like this to employees who represent the company is a very sobering experience. Asking them non-trivial questions often frustrates them badly. It’s not my fault. They must take responsibility for their workplace.

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