By Geoffrey A. Fowler
Have you ever tried to swap Siri for a better voice assistant on your iPhone? Don’t bother, you can’t.
Tried to buy e-books from the Kindle app? Can’t do that, either.
Send iMessages to someone with an Android phone? Nope. Backup your iPhone to Google Drive? Nope. Get your own iPhone repair parts from Apple? Nope. Transfer your digital life to a different kind of smartphone? Good luck, my friend. When you buy an iPhone, it isn’t really yours.
It’s time to reclaim our iPhones. The debate that’s happening in courts and Congress about Big Tech’s power is also playing out in the palm of our hands.
I’ve used an iPhone for the last 12 years, and like most of you I am not looking to change. But we’ve become so accustomed to restrictions Apple built into the iPhone, we don’t even realize how we’re contorting ourselves to comply – or what we’re missing out on. One sign we’re being manipulated by a monopoly is when it’s hard to even consider an alternative. Apple says it’s protecting our security and privacy, but it has become clear that locking down our iPhones is also about controlling us so Apple can make more money.
This column – an iPhone owner’s Bill of Rights, we-the-people style – is an inventory of the things we ought to be able to do with our iPhones, but Apple won’t let us. Let me know what you agree with, disagree with, and what else you’d add – I’ll accept quill on parchment or email.
This week, a federal judge finished hearing a case that helped expose how damaging Apple’s unregulated power has become for consumers. A lawsuit from Epic Games, the company that makes the video game “Fortnite,” put a literal price tag on Apple’s monopoly: 30%. That’s the markup top developers have to pay on app purchases because Apple is the only store allowed on the iPhone.
Apple thinks it’s handcuffing us for our own good. During the “Fortnite” trial, CEO Tim Cook said Apple needs to tightly integrate software and hardware in the iPhone to make sure it’s easy to use. “We take a lot of the complexity of technology away from the user,” Cook said. That’s part of why the iPhone gets very high customer satisfaction ratings, Apple often says.
What Apple doesn’t mention is that rival…