So I’ve seen two things in the last week that have really had me thinking when it comes to consumer issues. Three, in the last few months.
The first was Microsoft banning people who had modified xbox consoles.
The big issue with that was the term modification. Now, most people who had modified consoles were kicked off because they were playing downloaded games. If you get on craig’s list you can find hundred of adds by people who modify Xbox 360’s and it’s cheap.
The second has to do with Apple and the iPhone. While not as blatant as what MS has done, their situation is a little bit different. They have constantly created updates that have bricked peoples’ phones, caused the phone to behave as it wasn’t intended (Looking at you 3.0 software). A few tech blogs have speculated that they’ve released these firmware updates prematurely just to cut off jailbreaking.
Jailbreaking is an interesting concept because it basically “turns on” features that the hardware is capable of. Simple things like being able to have a wallpaper, themes, and different sounds for things like text messages and emails. Something that’s standard on a Blackberry. There are ways to get things without paying for them, but the process can be pretty tedious.
Some friends of mine are completely against jailbreaking because they feel Apple wants to provide a consistent experience with every phone. That point definitely has merit, but I’m of the camp that says “I bought it. I can do whatever the fuck I want with it”. Unless, of course, that means updating the firmware. Updating to newer firmware will “break” your jailbreak, and revert the phone back to it’s original form.
The thing with the iPhone is you don’t have to update it if you don’t want to. There really aren’t that many changes from the 3.0 software to the 3.13. A few fixes here and there, but that’s it. If you’re having a stable experience with a jailbroken phone, then you’re okay. Apple doesn’t stop you from making phone calls or using the internet.
The third is Sony’s removal of the other OS feature on the PS3. Other OS is a feature that was arguably used by a few percent of PS3 owners, but it’s still pissed off a lot of people. If you read NeoGAF, they have a 52 page thread with over 2500 posts about the subject. People seem to fall into a few distinct camps; the ones who don’t give a fuck that Other OS was removed, the ones that are outraged that it was removed, and the ones who are outraged that somebody else is outraged.
The interesting part of the issue with Other OS is that it seems to be a knee jerk reaction to a hacker named Geohot, who claimed he’d found a way to install custom firmware on the PS3, which, we can assume, would allow the PS3 to become a pirate’s play land like the PSP.
The fucked up part about what Sony’s done is that people have a choice between updating their firmware (which is required for you to get on PSN) or keep other OS. I can only assume that newer games are going to require firmware 3.21 or higher to run, just like with the PSP, so the consumer is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They can update to play the game and get on PSN, or not update, keep Other OS but lose the ability to use PSN or play new games.
Then there’s the stuff like Ubisoft bullshit DRM with Assassin’s Creed II that required you to be online at all times in order to play the game, despite the fact that their own internal servers went down and folks couldn’t play the game at ALL during this outage.
Anyway, I’m curious, I know we have some lawyers on here, and folks in law school and I was curious what the overall consesus on this stuff is. I’m of the mindset that what I bought belongs to me and if I choose to throw it off a building or jailbreak it, that’s my choice. It bothers me that companies like MS and Sony can flip a switch and fuck somebody’s system up. Ford can’t turn the AC off in your car because you went to a mechanic to fix your AC rather than a ford dealership.MS being able to ban people who fixed their own systems seems shady as fuck. Sony telling people to choose between playing new games and using PSN or keeping other OS seems shady as fuck.