The Ethical Mobile? (No, not the iPhone!)
Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 June 2009
Dave Flanders recently published a blog post which gave an Independent UK Hardware Review of HTC Magic (Vodaphone) vs HTC G1 (T-Mobile). The blog post (and embedded video clip) made a case for the HTC Magic mobile phone (which uses Google’s Android open source operating system) in preference to Apple’s iPhone for several reasons and concluded with an ethical argument:
Ethical computing! <–! Last but certainly not least (IMHO)–> In an age of global financial crisis and corporate bastardising the technology we decide to spend our money on says a lot for how we want the world to turn out for the next generation. In my opinion using an Open Source phone (like Android) says you want a world where we as a global community decide what we want, NOT one where a company decides how we want it. Choice is yours, but this phone proves without a doubt that you can have both the ethical openness of Open Source while still having all the functionality and services of a proprietary company. Truly, this could be the first time Open Source is the top of the stack and I can only hope it will stay this way (for a month or two anyways
Now a debate of the relative merits of the iPhone and the Google Android device took place following my post on Google’s G1 Phone: “Innovation For Tech Heads” in September 2008 and a follow-up post on The Wow Factor, The Openness, The Developers Environment, … published the following month. That debate appeared to conclude with a concensus of the benefits of the usability of the iPhone, which outweighed the closed nature of the platform, the centralised Apple Store and the costs of the the iPhone.
Well I have now got myself a HTC Magic Android device. And have I selected this device based on the ethical considerations which Dave has raised? Of course not! I chose the HTC Magic phone as wanted a device which meant I could be always connected, and not tied to a WiFi network. And I was out of contract I was able to obtain the HTC Magic free-of-charge, with an increase of my monthly tariff from £15 to £20, which included the data rate.
And having had the device for a few days I’m enjoying it. I’ve installed a variety of Android applications (all of them free) included an email client (K9), an RSS reader (NewsRob), a couple of GPS applications, a Twitter client (Twidroid), a barcode reader (to experiment with), Quikipedia (for cheating in pub quizzes), Skype, Shazam and Last.FM.
For me the deciding factors were the cost and usability – and the iPhone’s better usability isn’t enough to outweigh its costs. And although this might not be a fashionable comment to make in developers’ circles, the ethical issues which Dave has described have IMHO little to do with the selection of mobile phones. You just need to ask an iPhone user to see the truth of this.
Now where are the other HTC Magic users to chat to and discuss the cool apps to install?