Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The not-so-Evil Empire

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tamara,

    By the way, I suspect with the cooling off period he may have been thinking of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (phew). Statutorily mandated cooling-off period.

    I think that's what I was thinking of too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17941 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to FletcherB,

    One of the things with cars is that it's been established over the years that manufacturers can't legally lock you in to support (read parts and service). For instance, in most countries, it's legal to make an aftermarket car part that fits the original, notwithstanding patents and copyrights, or to write a 'Haynes Manual' based on (literal) disassembly of the vehicle.

    We should really have similar rules for the computer industry.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4210 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Graham, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    We should really have similar rules for the computer industry.

    In what way is that not true of the computer industry? There is plenty of 3rd-party iPhone servicing, for example.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2011 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Peter Graham,

    In what way is that not true of the computer industry? There is plenty of 3rd-party iPhone servicing, for example.

    And I have a choice of vendors for RAM, storage, monitors, optical drives, peripherals etc, on my iMac. Even the notorious Apple tax on cables and adapters is easing a bit. But, no, I can't build a Mac from parts without hacking. Given that Apple still makes the bulk of its money selling hardware, I don't expect this to change.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17941 posts Report Reply

  • Brian Fairchild, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I have no problem paying for something I have purchased. Apple insisted that I had purchased something when I knew I hadn't, either on purpose or mistakenly. Because I asked them, three or four times, to identify what it was I purchased, when I purchased it and what it was, I was given some rubbish about my daughter having mistakenly having pressed some sort of 'buy' button when she had never touched the iPad. Then finally, after it escalated up to 'Florian' from the iTunes Store/Mac App Store Customer Support, someone from Apple was able to confirm that I didn't purchase anything.

    I was never offered a refund. I was told that once I settled my account I would be presented with an 'iTunes Gift Voucher' that would allow me to make a different choice of app 'or music'.

    But I think it is even deeper than this. Firstly, if you are ordering on line and the goods are 'shipped' digitally one can fairly assume that the entire process is automated, right down to the deposit showing up on an Apple bank statement on a screen and in a file somewhere.

    So when I go online and book an iPad service call how come, after four weeks, can someone say it is because "Upon checking your account there is a billing issue with one of your iTunes Store orders and you are unable to resume purchasing with your iTunes Store account. Unfortunately, the iTunes Store has been unable to verify an authorization from your financial institution and has not received payment for order M3NVN9HTXV."?

    My iPad serial number is tied to a registration which is tied to my name, which is tied to a credit card which is tied to my name, which is tied to an iTunes account which is tied to my name, which is tied to my unique password which is tied to my name. Had I not switched credit cards in February, as Kiwibank made me an offer I couldn't refuse, I believe that I would have had even more trouble convincing these people that I had never purchased anything. This is all irrespective of the fact that I don't accept their new terms but, as Tamara has correctly identified, streets that I used to use are now blocked to me. I would never have known about the 'purchase' if I hadn't contacted them with regard to the new terms that I didn't accept.

    In all honesty I think I've gone as far as I can explaining or justifying my view. You are entitled to not agree or see it differently, that's your right, and it's clearly your right to promote healthy debate on what you see as a contentious issue. I would suspect that your view might be somewhat different if you had experienced the 'help desk' responses I have experienced and had you seen the trail of emails trying to get the most basic of information out of Apple, such as what did I buy, where is your New Zealand office or representative located?.

    I'll not enter into any further discussion on the matter, as I said earlier, I’ll be happy for the Disputes Tribunal to decide if I have a valid case or not. If I’m wrong there will be a cheap iPad for sale and if I’m right Apple will have a cheap iPad for sale.

    Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to respond - it was appreciated.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2012 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Brian Fairchild,

    Brian, I appreciate you coming here. Thanks.

    But are you saying this began with a billing dispute? That might make things a bit different.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17941 posts Report Reply

  • JonathanM,

    There's a number of related issues here which are clouding things slightly.

    The first issue is that of whether an update of T&C's is appropriate within 5 months of purchase. The reason for the updated T&C's are because of newly added features in the updated operating system, so I'm not sure how Apple could preempt this - it seems entirely reasonable that they may need to be altered, and there is nothing that forces you to accept them.

    The second issue is that some applications no longer work as they used to because you haven't updated the OS. Nothing at all has changed on your device - you're running the same OS. If the Herald app broke without your intervention (i.e. you didn't install an updated app that somehow clashed with your version of iOS) then the only way this can occur is that the Herald has changed the way it serves up content to its app. This is the Herald's fault for breaking older versions of their app - you'd be entitled to a refund, but unfortunately that's not worth much ;)

    The third problem would be if you're no longer able to install apps that you could have before the iOS update was available now that you've not agreed to the updated T&C's for iTunes. In this case, you really have lost ability of the iPad - the ability to install apps under the T&C's you originally signed up for. This is definitely Apple's fault - they maintain versions of apps appropriate for older versions of iOS (they have to, as older devices don't run iOS 5 for instance) so you should be able to install them under the older operating system that you have. Unfortunately I don't have an iOS device to experiment with to see whether this can occur (my wife has left me under no illusions as to who the iPad belongs to!)

    Since Jul 2012 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to JonathanM,

    There’s a number of related issues here which are clouding things slightly.

    You're right. Thanks for outlining them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17941 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Tamara,

    However, if the original terms included one that said that you would have to accept any new terms from time to time or else your devices wouldn’t work optimally then you couldn’t really argue with that. Does anyone know if there is a term to that effect?

    All of Apple's terms and conditions are available online: http://www.apple.com/legal/sla/ (incidientally they are a lot easier to find that many companies' T&Cs). There is nothing in the license that indicates that refusing to update the OS might stop existing apps from working. It does say that an OS update might be accompanied by a new license. Of course you are not required to update the OS.

    If you don't update the OS but do update the apps then yes, you could run into trouble if the updated app requires a newer version of the OS. I'm not sure if it will warn or stop you from updating an app that way. But every time you sync the device it creates a backup so you do have the opportunity to revert if you update something and you don't like the results. I can't see how you can run into any issues if you don't update anything on the device - perhaps if the app gets content online and the codecs used change or something. I wouldn't think that would happen much, and if it does, surely the app developer is to blame.

    Neither Apple nor the app developers are obligated to give you updates (though there is an argument that they have a responsibility in terms of security updates). If they offer an update and you don't like the T&Cs then simply don't take the update. I don't see how you've lost anything in that case. If you don't want to update the OS then you probably should be very careful about updating apps but it won't stop you using the device and it won't stop you installing new apps that are happy with the OS version you have.

    Like Russell, I'm struggling to see the problem here.

    Since Sep 2009 • 316 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to JonathanM,

    The third problem would be if you’re no longer able to install apps that you could have before the iOS update was available now that you’ve not agreed to the updated T&C’s for iTunes. In this case, you really have lost ability of the iPad – the ability to install apps under the T&C’s you originally signed up for. This is definitely Apple’s fault – they maintain versions of apps appropriate for older versions of iOS (they have to, as older devices don’t run iOS 5 for instance) so you should be able to install them under the older operating system that you have.

    I don't agree (or perhaps I don't understand your point correctly). The apps that Apple include with the OS (e.g. Phone, Clock etc) are part of the OS - they can't be updated separately. For other apps, whether from Apple or not, I don't agree that either Apple or the developer has a responsibility to maintain the availability of old versions. If I had refused to update from Windows 95, surely I can't expect to be able to run the latest version of Photoshop, and surely I can't expect to still be able to buy Photoshop 5.5 (the last version that worked on Win95) from Adobe?

    I don't think the situation is different with these devices. If app X was available for iOS y and I didn't bother to install it, do I have a right to complain that X 2.0 requires iOS y+1 and I can no longer install X 1.0? I don't think I do, but even if I did, it would be the developer of X that was at fault wouldn't it? If app X hasn't been updated then yes you should still be able to install it on iOS y even after iOS y+1 comes out. And that's the situation that exists. There are millions of people on old versions of iOS. The iPhone 3 is stuck forever on iOS 4.2.1. My wife has one of them. Being stuck on that version has not stopped her installing new apps (unless they require a newer version of the OS) and it hasn't prevented old apps from working. I don't see many other people complaining about this situation either.

    Since Sep 2009 • 316 posts Report Reply

  • JonathanM,

    Yes - apologies for the confusion - the third point was an hypothesis and may not be something that Brian has observed, and may not even be possible.

    Agreed regarding your point on the availability of older versions of software, though I think it highlights an interesting issue. In your example, you suggested that Photoshop 5.5 from Adobe would no longer be expected to be able to be purchased. A quick google shows that you can in fact purchase this still. This is not, however, possible in this brave new world of the iOS device: once Apple decides to stop distributing it, that's it. I'm not sure that the argument "you knew that when you bought it" is enough to counter this concern.

    Since Jul 2012 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to JonathanM,

    In your example, you suggested that Photoshop 5.5 from Adobe would no longer be expected to be able to be purchased. A quick google shows that you can in fact purchase this still.

    Note I said "from Adobe". And I think you'll find a lot of those links are "CS 5.5" which is not the same as the version that runs on Win 95. There do seem to be a small number of new and used copies of 5.5 on Amazon however. But my point is that you can't buy it from the developer. Adobe are not pressing new copies of the PS 5.5 CD, printing new copies of the manual, or providing a downloadable version.

    This is not, however, possible in this brave new world of the iOS device: once Apple decides to stop distributing it, that’s it. I’m not sure that the argument “you knew that when you bought it” is enough to counter this concern.

    The only difference I see is that there is only one retail store for iOS apps. If all the retailers sell out of PS 5.5 and Adobe aren't producing new copies then are you not in exactly the same position? But again, it's the developer's decision to stop supporting old versions of the OS, not Apple's. Yes, Apple could provide old versions of the app, but this is not something that is common in the rest of the software industry either, and I suspect it's not something the app developers necessarily want (certainly I don't see many developers asking for it).

    I did a quick check of the top apps in iTunes. Here is a summary of the iOS version required for them:
    5.x: 4. The two Apple apps in the lists both require 5.1, the latest iOS version.
    4.x: 15. 5 of which require 4.3 which is not available on an iPhone 3G.
    3.x: 9. The original iPad came with 3.2.

    I guess you could criticise Apple for requiring the newest version of iOS when it's not really necessary, but I think that's their prerogative. You could still install 1/3 of those apps with an iPad you'd never updated and 86% of those apps on a device that hadn't been updating in over a year (i.e. one running 4.3). I don't think the situation is all that dire.

    Since Sep 2009 • 316 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Siu,

    So what's the actual problem here - credit card mismanagement or something else?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 74 posts Report Reply

  • JonathanM,

    The only difference I see is that there is only one retail store for iOS apps. If all the retailers sell out of PS 5.5 and Adobe aren't producing new copies then are you not in exactly the same position?

    Correct - the fact that you can still purchase PS 5.5, a version that is now 13 years old, from an alternate retailer very clearly distinguishes the two retail models. It's the result of both the digital nature of the purchase along with the single store model. Both mean that you have fewer "rights" with your purchases than you had before with the physical (or transferable digital) item - you can no longer resell, or gift them to someone else, nor can you alter the item if you wanted to. You don't really own your copy of the app, rather you have a non-transferable license to use it in the form that was provided to you. It's a fundamentally different transaction, and I'm not sure whether folk always understand the restrictions that come along with it. Or perhaps they do, and I'm over-thinking things :)

    Since Jul 2012 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts, in reply to JonathanM,

    Can you buy each app with a separate login, then onsell a login as proxy for an app? And if so, would Apple authorise an app to automate the process?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to JonathanM,

    You don't really own your copy of the app, rather you have a non-transferable license to use it in the form that was provided to you. It's a fundamentally different transaction, and I'm not sure whether folk always understand the restrictions that come along with it.

    I'd say you're right. It's like the difference between owning a car or house and having access to one via a company or family trust.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15718 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Not evil, just a bit sad Apple opts out of green certification. This would be just like the rest, but an important point gets made over the legitamacy of Apple in education. Something I have questioned for several years now.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2012/07/06/apple-removes-green-electronics-certification-from-products/ from @mikeloukides

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    Not evil, just a bit sad Apple opts out of green certification. This would be just like the rest, but an important point gets made over the legitamacy of Apple in education. Something I have questioned for several years now.

    That's a real bummer. Apple has actually been doing really well on product sustainability in recent years -- and now, because the retina display Macbook's battery is glued to its case, they pull every product out of the standard?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17941 posts Report Reply

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