In Jonathan Zittrain’s book, The Future of the Internet, and How to Stop It, he identifies two patterns that describe the way the Internet can be used: generative or tethered. The generative pattern exploits the open, flexible nature of the Internet and PC’s enabling tinkerers and innovators to create new ways to interact and work on the Internet. The other pattern he calls “tethered.” The idea here is that companies are moving away from an open, flexible system, and more toward more centrally controlled, or tethered information appliances, such as the i-Phone.
I’ve owned an i-Phone for a bit more than a year. I was very excited about the new i-phone, and the new 2.0 upgraded I-phone software. Existing owners of i-Phones could connect their i-phones to their own PC, and download the upgraded software.
A World Event
Now you must realize that Apple, at 8:00 A.M. EST, put the new i-Phones on sale at its Apple stores, and at AT&T stores, not only in the U.S., but around the world, in 24 countries where the i-Phone was being sold. Last year, when you bought an i-Phone (and they were only sold in the U.S.), you walked out of the store with your new phone, and plugged it into your home PC to activate the phone, and you had to buy a 2 year account with AT&T—no other communications firm. But, some people figured out a way to “unlock” the i-phone, and get it to work in other ways. With this new release of the i-Phone, the plan was that you had to have your phone activated in the store, thereby assuring AT&T that buyers would pay for a 2-year deal.
Well, can you imagine a world event of this nature where thousands of people are trying to access Apple’s servers. The result: extreme overload. The real effect: people being really ticked-off. Macworld updated us on Friday afternoon describing events at various Apple stores as crowded and full of people who were a bit frustrated.
i-Phone as a Tethered Applicance
Firstly, the i-phone is an amazing handheld device. I use mine all of the time, but I realized that it is a tethered appliance, and to get this device to work, one has to to realize that it is like the “dumb” terminals that our computers were like when we accessed websites, such as Compuserve. Because the i-phone is a centrally controlled device, the way the launch of the new i-phone was planned—all at once around the world—problems were sure to occur with the launch, and they did. Here is one experience.
Launching my i-Phone
At about 9:30 A.M. on Friday, July 11, I connected by i-phone to my i-Mac. I noticed that the screen did not have an option for upgrading to 2.0; instead it gave me the choice of upgrading to 1.4. So I initiated that since I had an older version. Everything went along very well until the very last stage in which the i-phone has to be activated by the Apple server. I kept getting the same error message (-4), as did thousands of people around the world. Too many people hitting the Apple server at the same time. What to do? I called the Apple Care 800 number, and was assured that everything was okey. I probably did download the 2.0 software, and all I had to do was leave the phone connected to the computer, and I would get in. Hours later, I did get in and the phone worked. But, I didn’t have the new 2.0 software. So, I called Apple Care again, the very knowledgeable person, after some research on his part, discovered that the 2.0 option had been taken off the server, and it wasn’t available during the times I was accessing. He suggested waiting. I waited until the next morning. Success. I know have the 2.0 software on my i-Phone, and was able to download some of the new applications, and I am quite pleased. Later in the day, I upgraded my wife’s i-Phone.