June 10, 2010

Last weekend I was off the grid. It wasn’t my plan to be without Internet or mobile access to all my digital pursuits (crutches) like Twitter and Foursquare and Tumblr. But Apple made it all possible by bricking my iPhone.

To be clear and fair and upfront, it’s not really Apple’s fault. It’s mine. I’ve been running a jailbroken and unlocked iPhone since the marvelous device came out. I have nothing against Apple, but I am loathe to do business with AT&T as they create moving targets in their terms of service, their data and voice plans and their overall presence in the marketplace.

As an example, they recently rescinded their promise that unlimited data plans for the iPad would be the norm. Now, if you buy an iPad you’re locked into a proprietary carrier (even though Apple and AT&T beg to differ and say your device is unlocked) and a horrid data plan.

That’s right. The SIM card in the iPad is only available as of this writing via AT&T in the United States. And the data plans offered now cap at 2GB of data use. How stupid is that? (By the way, T-Mobile might get the next iPhone)

Well, for a company that wants to make money it’s not stupid at all. AT&T probably saw that HD video and other content was coming for the iPad and wanted to capitalize on the added useage. They tried to explain that this pay-for-what-you-use model was better for most users. What they didn’t really tell the general public was that the heavy users of these devices are the ones who are most vocal in new media, most aware of technology limitations and restrictions, and most likely to fight for ALL users’ rights if restrictions were put in place.

I’m one of those users – though I don’t have an iPad yet. I have a USB modem with which I regularly go past the 5GB limit (lucky for me Verizon is true to its word and has grandfathered me into a true ‘unlimited’ plan which is what I pay for).

But I digress. How did I get bumped back into the 1970s? I’m an idiot. I tried to get my 3G iPhone to work a little better and upgraded it using some software at This has worked a bunch of times in the past and the folks at iClarified are geniuses. They even told people like me that it was better to wait before upgrading because the risk of damaging your iPhone was pretty high until after the release of Apple iPhone OS 4.0.

I didn’t listen.

I flew too close to the sun.

I wanted speed and wanted to use applications that would only run on 3.1.3 as that number was growing and my older OS (3.1.2) was leaving me with more and more apps I couldn’t run.

So I did the upgrade and now my iPhone is a heavy iPod Touch with a camera. No SIM card works in it (except an AT&T one) and I had to buy a Droid over the weekend just to make phone calls.

Well, what’s the purpose of this mini rant? Do I want Apple to reward me for hacking their phone? Do I want AT&T to wake up and reinstitute unlimited plans? Do I just want to share my idiocy with the masses?

A mix of all of that. Right now I feel like a dolt because I’m using a Droid phone that doesn’t work nearly as well as the iPhone and I’m a little bitter.

I’m also acutely aware that I never want to be hostage in a no-grid situation. I will gladly put my Internet away and unplug, but I want it to be on my terms.

What’s the marketing takeaway here? That in order to remain in control of your digital life, you must spend a good amount of time researching your options, be aware that you are going to run into tech regret from time to time, and that speaking loudly about injustices like measured data plans is the only way we’ll ever enjoy true tech freedom.

I wandered around a bit here today. What are your thoughts on measured service, tech hacking, Apple and other Web-related news? Share in the comments.