Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones Patents Apple

Apple Wants Patents For Crippling Cellphones 371

Posted by kdawson
from the say-it-ain't-so-steve dept.
theodp writes "Evil is in the eye of the beholder, but there's certainly not much to like in the newly-disclosed Apple patent applications for Systems and Methods for Provisioning Computing Devices. Provisioning, says Apple, allows carriers to 'specify access limitations to certain device resources which may otherwise be available to users of the device.' So what problem are we trying to solve here? 'Mobile devices often have capabilities that the carriers do not want utilized on their networks,' explains Apple. 'Various applications on these devices may also need to be restricted.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple Wants Patents For Crippling Cellphones

Comments Filter:
  • by Nemyst (1383049) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:02AM (#29615659) Homepage
    This tag has never been more appropriate...
  • by cjfs (1253208) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:08AM (#29615713) Homepage Journal

    restriction of features doesn't seem very patentable

    Haven't been around the patent office lately, have you?

  • by jipn4 (1367823) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:09AM (#29615715)

    Apple and any inventor should be ashamed to put their name on such a crappy patent; there is not a bit on an idea in there.

    However, if this serves to keep others from implementing carrier-based restrictions, I'm all for it: implementing this is going to hurt Apple and help everybody else.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:10AM (#29615723) Journal
    The patent component of this news aside, we've seen iPhones turned into web servers [slashdot.org], iPhones running PHP and Apache [slashdot.org] and even playing reduced frame rate WoW on your iPhone [slashdot.org]. So, when we saw these articles it is easily suspected that they could be an abuse to the network. But how could an Apache server on my iPhone be anymore of an abuse than an Apache server on my home computer connected to Comcast? I mean, the networks are probably different but can't they institute a cap and just let my phone slow to a crawl due to limited bandwidth while everyone else doesn't even notice my usage? Are the cell phone networks really that helpless in that they cannot cap usages on cell phones?

    Either there's something about the potential abuse of cell phones on networks or Apple just wants another patent. Probably both.

    All I ask of Apple (or anyone really) is that -- if they implement this patent on a phone -- they advertise this "feature" and stay true to the numbers of what you can expect out of your potentially crippled device. My biggest problem with my ISP is that they flat out lie to me about what I'm paying for. When I see things like "unlimited data plan" on cell phones I can only laugh ...
  • by Shag (3737) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:10AM (#29615725) Homepage

    ...on my own personal iPhone. Why? Well, it's easier than remembering how to hook it up to the 5 Google calendars I need it to sync and edit...

    Yeah. Just one phone. I don't have to be a big corporation to find tools like that useful.

    This makes me evil, right?

  • by iangoldby (552781) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:11AM (#29615743) Homepage

    Operators have a hard limit on the amount of service they can actually provision. Allowing any and all devices to run willy nilly on the network would be certain death, even for the best-laid network.

    Or alternatively, why not use an appropriate charging structure, so that it becomes prohibitively expensive for the end user to consume excessive resources? And use the extra revenue earned from those users who are willing to pay for large consumption to increase the capacity.

  • by agorist_apostle (1491899) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:15AM (#29615767)
    ...does anyone else ever get the feeling that there is a whole cabal of businesses, government organizations, etc, out there just trying to manage the piss out of them? Managed content, managed hardware, managed media...there is too much management...
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:16AM (#29615783)

    Now lets be realistic here people.
    You get a Cell Phone and most of them even the low end systems are more powerful then computers 10 years ago. So most phones can do a lot of stuff.
    Now you have different carriers. They can Suck and have a small limited network where only some services will properly run. So if you had a phone that can do anything on a network that cant when you try to do something that the network can't handle you get an error, or it just doens't work. The geeks like us will see this as either a reason to switch carriers or hack the system to get it to work. But for average joe it will be like. Why offer us the feature if we can't use it, or it is broken so the entire system is broken.
    So if your carrier will not support the feature then it shouldn't be on the phone. So people will be happy with your product as it works. And if they see someone on an different network with the same product and there is a new feature then you think about switching the carrier not the phone technology. So if the iPhone will be on different networks and there is one willing to support different features you need. You can switch to that vender without thinking man this iPhone sucks because I cannot tether with my computer. While the truth is the iPhone can teather it is just you stupid carrier who won't let you.

  • Re:Confirmed (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:22AM (#29615817)

    Talk about prior art...

  • by ground.zero.612 (1563557) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:22AM (#29615823)

    This story is tagged "defectivebydesign", but what Apple wants to do is anything but.

    Operators have a hard limit on the amount of service they can actually provision. Allowing any and all devices to run willy nilly on the network would be certain death, even for the best-laid network. By throttling certain services, turning off certain capabilities, and allowing remote provisioning management, Apple is making sure that the device they are providing to users will work and continue to work on the network.

    This is a very important feature not only for the NOs, but also for businesses who would provide these phones to their field teams. Though, to be honest, restriction of features doesn't seem very patentable, at least there are other implementations that already exist. WinMo has had this since WM6.1, for example.

    You don't seem to understand the flawed business model that communications providers have been running with since the beginning. They never had enough capacity for their customers. They could, but they need to pay their CEO's $20M bonuses instead of grow their infrastructure. So as it stands today, there just isn't enough network for us, which is why when there are city/county/state-wide emergencies many calls do not go through.

    The only analogy I've been able to come up with that paints a good picture about why it's such a flawed model is what I call the Coca-Cola Principle. If Coca-Cola was suddenly able to reclaim the soda in the can I just purchased before it hit my lips, they could in effect resell my can of Coke before I could even drink it. This is exactly what every single communications provider has done. Comcast (unfortunately my home ISP) is perhaps one of the worst offenders of this. Having resold the bandwidth I paid for multiple hundreds of times. Eventually instead of providing me with what I have been paying for (unlimited broadband, as in no bandwidth cap), they reneged on their deal and put in a hard cap of 250gb/mo.

    You sound a lot like a corporatist to me. Oh noes those poor Network Operators need to cripple us to continue to be able to oversell their product/service. Well, what I say is, shitcan the CEOs taking these ridiculous sums of money and grow your infrastructure to meet YOUR promises as well as the economic DEMAND.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:27AM (#29615867) Journal

    You don't seem to understand the flawed business model that communications providers have been running with since the beginning. They never had enough capacity for their customers. They could, but they need to pay their CEO's $20M bonuses instead of grow their infrastructure.

    Wow, only $20M to put in a $1.7Bn infrastructure upgrade, with $2.3Bn extra costs to implement it with strong integration to the current infrastructure and while prematurely terminating part of the current infrastructure before value's been realized on it? You must be the best business process accountant ever!

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:30AM (#29615893) Homepage Journal

    The secret no one is supposed to talk about is that "management" is where all the money is going. Whether it is government, health care, education, telecommunications, insurance... you name it. All the money is going to the middle men who don't know how do anything but push papers and write contracts. There is no value added by these people at all. The health care industry is just full of people working in "business" areas. When I lived in Indianapolis an office I went to when I was sick had I think 3 doctors and about 12 people working in the office in various positions. Health insurance companies are chock full of people who know almost nothing but are making huge checks. Public school districts have huge multi-story "administration" buildings full of people who don't teach. That's where all the money is going... start hiring people who actually know some stuff and actually contribute to the bottom line and we'll start to move in the right direction again.

  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by patrickthbold (1351131) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:31AM (#29615895)
    So if I want a phone that isn't crippled, all's I have to do is not buy an iphone? GO PATENTS!
  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:33AM (#29615921) Homepage Journal

    The parent post would actually make sense if Apple and AT&T didn't enforce a false monopoly on the market. This is another reason that exclusivity deals should be illegal.

  • by c0d3g33k (102699) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:35AM (#29615947)
    Wow - didn't take long for the apologists to come out of the woodwork. Here's what I'd like to see instead: A balanced comment that takes into consideration the needs of BOTH parties in a transaction/business relationship/whatever, rather than just the point of view of the party with the most power. I think we (i.e. "reasonable people") understand that one-sided relationships that favor one party over the other aren't optimal in a civilized society. But I can't quite understand the psychology behind those that rapidly spring to the defense of the powerful. Unless you're working for them and will directly benefit from maintaining or adding further imbalance to the status quo, WHY?

    In your particular example, I would counter that the real reason for crippling devices has much more to do with control for the purpose of maximizing income than control for technical reasons. The fear isn't that willy-nilly allowance of device capabilities will bring down the network, it's that it will allow customers to create their own solutions rather than paying a lucrative monthly fee for the officially sanctioned service that optimizes monetization of the service rather than optimizing the ability of people to do what they need/want to do. Use of the term "crippling" isn't accidental - it's an accurate description of what is being done.
  • WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:38AM (#29615977) Journal

    Man, I hate Micros... err Apple. Actually, I think I just hate Steve Jobs. Most of Apple's fascist type behavior appears to be coming from him.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:43AM (#29616037)

    The the slashdot groupthink would complain that they are reaping huge profits and overcharging customers for service that is sub-par. Hypocrisy runs rampant on /.

  • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:48AM (#29616125) Journal
    Isn't that what slashdot has been ripping into the cable ISPs for? Throttling certain services, and charging for "excessive" use (bandwidth caps)? AT&T and Verizon are always bragging about their networks ... why don't we make them live up to the hype?

    Oh, yeah, because it's hype ...
  • as in Europe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spectrokid (660550) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:55AM (#29616177) Homepage
    you are absolutely right. That is why in Europe, where phones are not restricted, not a single Carrier has survived today. Oh wait... try again
    you are absolutely right. If users were to use their USB cable to install a free ringtone, this would totally overload the network. Oh wait... mmm; bollocks
  • by CaptainZapp (182233) * on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:57AM (#29616193) Homepage
    Can you then explain why, in Europe, I can chuck any SIM into any (not SIM locked) GSM device and it just bloody works?

    This phone crippling crap is performed by US carriers mostly in order to maximize their profits and there are no technical reasons whatsoever to restrict any capabilities of a certified GSM phone.

    Like it or not: A phone, which is crippled by design, like the iPhone, is defective by design.

  • by koiransuklaa (1502579) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:11AM (#29616395)

    This reasoning just doesn't hold. Some netbooks already have 3G chips, I bet that will be a standard feature in all mobile computers in the near future. The result of this is that the network operators cannot control the clients.

    It should be blindingly obvious to anyone that the network has to cope with rogue devices. Assuming that wireless clients are all well-behaved is a phenomenally stupid idea.

    The "we're only protecting the user from excess charges" idea might hold water if the same companies weren't happy to send you insane roaming charges...

  • You don't seem to understand the flawed business model that communications providers have been running with since the beginning. They never had enough capacity for their customers. They could, but they need to pay their CEO's $20M bonuses instead of grow their infrastructure. So as it stands today, there just isn't enough network for us, which is why when there are city/county/state-wide emergencies many calls do not go through.

    That's not a flawed business model. You can meet 90% of your customer's needs for X dollars, and 99% of your customer's needs for 10X dollars, and 99.9% of your customer's needs for 100X dollars, and 99.99% of your customer's needs for 1000X dollars... see the problem? Increasing capacity to a point where you can fully satisfy state-wide emergencies is incredibly expensive, and leaves half of the network unused at regular times. That is a flawed business model, which is why it's not done by any infrastructure provider - there are brownouts in summer heat waves, there are water shortages in droughts, there are network shortages in emergencies, etc. This is the trade-off we make in exchange for not having $5000/month cell phone bills.

  • Oversubscription (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wonkavader (605434) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:15AM (#29616443)

    OK, he's wrong and you're wrong.

    Oversubscription is a great and fine thing and keeps costs low and therefore costs to the customers low. Most of the time, providing enough service that everyone could use everything all at once (electricity, phones, water, etc) would mean building out a ridiculous level, and create fantastic waste 99.999% of the time.

    Every business oversubscribes in some way. You allow your tenant to throw parties, but don't expand the roof to cover the infinitely number of guests he might invite: so you're an evil coca cola stealing bastard?

    The problem is not over subscription -- it's the fact that it's hidden/lied about. The fact that an apartment can only hold a finite number of guests and yet there's no statement in your lease restricting the number of guests your tenant can invite to a party isn't really a problem. The lease doesn't tell him he can invite an unlimited number of people. It doesn't tell him he can invite 1000/hour all the time and so can all his guests.

    The phone companies tell us we can have unlimited bandwidth or a high amount. Then they can't provide it. That's breach of contract and fraud.

    Your last lines are getting close to the heart of the matter: "shitcan the CEOs taking these ridiculous sums of money and grow your infrastructure to meet YOUR promises as well as the economic DEMAND."

    But you're missing the point. They're committing fraud and breaking contracts. They should not lose their jobs -- that hardly matters. The companies should be sued and prosecuted for the civil and criminal aspects of this. The officers of the company should be held responsible. They should be both destitute and jailed.

    The fault, dear Brutus, is not our telephone system, but in our political/judicial system that we are kept underlings. And in ourselves, that we are unable to force a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" to stop representing only RICH people.

  • by ZekoMal (1404259) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:21AM (#29616485)

    Hey folks, you all have a path open to you if you don't like the way Apple and AT&T manage the IPhone. Simply design, build, market, and sell a competing phone and service that is as popular as the IPhone. What's holding you back?

    Yeah, you're right! I'll just use my millions of dollars and my full team of dedicated programmers as well as my factories and create an entirely new phone that doesn't go against any of the hundreds of patents while being competitively priced, then pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into advertising to get as much known about my phone as possible, then either find an existing company that has cell phone towers up that agree with our methods (not gonna happen) or build our own cell phone towers so we don't have to pay for the privilege to be screwed over whilst jumping through dozens of government hoops!

    Wow, it'll be so easy!

  • Re:Confirmed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:24AM (#29616513)

    This can only mean the iPhone is coming to Verizon!

    Verizon was my first cellphone carrier. I can only guess your comment has been modded by non-customers of Verizon - otherwise you'd be at +5 insightful instead.

    Seriously, anyone else remember when Verizon FINALLY offered their first Bluetooth phone (V700 I think)? Almost all of the useful Bluetooth features were disabled - when pushed, Verizon claimed it was "for security purposes"; yet they conveniently offered those same features for an outrageous fee through their own silly program. That was when I switched to T-Mobile - they're not perfect by a long shot, but at least their not overtly hostile towards their customers. With T-Mobile I could... GASP... use Bluetooth to sync my Mac's addressbook with my phone! Move pictures to and from my phone! Do my own ringtones! What a concept...

    I've heard a lot of speculation about the iPhone going to Verizon next - I really hope it's not true. If anyone can kill the iPhone, it'll be Verizon. Hmm... I wonder if Microsoft has thought about that...

  • by rufty_tufty (888596) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:27AM (#29616551) Homepage

    I think that carriers and vendors in general see phone features as content. i.e. the Ipod is capable of playing any MP3, however that does not give you the right to play any MP3 without paying for it, consumers are used to paying for content and if they can be persuaded to see GPS functionality as content then that makes it easier to milk the cow that is the consumer. It is in many corporations interests to see applications and indeed all features viewed by the consumer in a similar way i.e. everything of value is paid for individually.
    Trying not to sound like an opensource zealot, this is where things like android could really save us - by keeping applications on phones free in the same way that opensource has allowed modern software to be free. True there may be a greater effort required for the user to do this, but that then becomes the price paid.

    Now if only there was a decent android phone available in the UK....

  • Re:Confirmed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AmigaMMC (1103025) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:37AM (#29616647)
    Funny but sad. Apple sucks end of the story. With all their bashing of Microsoft years ago they turned into something worse.
  • Re:Confirmed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clifyt (11768) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [rettamkinos]> on Friday October 02, 2009 @11:16AM (#29617115) Homepage

    "Almost all of the useful Bluetooth features were disabled - when pushed, Verizon claimed it was "for security purposes"; yet they conveniently offered those same features for an outrageous fee through their own silly program"

    I had the EXACT same thing through Sprint just before I canceled and switched to AT&T...but the worst part was, the phone had over the air updates, and while I paid cash for it -- I don't like these subsidized plans -- and I spent 2x what it would have cost in their store as it was unlocked, they were STILL able to disable all the features (and somehow lock the phone to their network), with the exception of bluetooth headsets...which I don't really like anyways (give me wired any day of the week...I like battery life).

    The worst part was that I bought this specifically for presentations so I could get a remote screen on the phone with the notes I needed, along with a remote control for the computer. $300 wasted. Sure, I was able to grab the firmware and reflash it, but the company would randomly update the phone again and there was little I could do about it except hope they didn't update it the night before a big presentation.

    I get pissy about my iPhone for just this reason, but at the same time, the limits Apple puts on it are FAR FAR FAR less than any company before it. When they make a bonehead moronic fucking move, I have to remind myself of Sprint....

  • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nex[ ]k.org ['usu' in gap]> on Friday October 02, 2009 @11:23AM (#29617239) Homepage

    telecoms operators have always tried to maintain a tight grip on what devices can connect to their networks.

    No. US telecoms operators have always tried to maintain a tight grip on what can be connected to their networks. This is not the case elsewhere in the world (although it is notable that with the advent of the iPhone, operators elsewhere in the world are starting to embrace anti-consumer ideas such as device-exclusivity contracts and refusal to unlock off-contract devices - one can only hope that the regulators get their finger out and put a stop to this).

    And I think they are right to do so, allowing unrestricted software access to their network infrastructure might well be disastrous. Most computers have to connect via a modem, but the iPhone is the modem, so allowing software to access the hardware directly would remove this layer of abstraction and security.

    You clearly don't understand how mobile phones are architected. A smartphone is basically a palmtop computer and a GSM/WCDMA modem in the same box. The computer part of it is _not_ (logically) the same device as the radiomodem, any more than a computer with a built in modem is. The "computer" side of a smartphone generally talks to the radio side through an interface that basically behaves like a serial port - i.e. it is controlled by standard AT commands.

    Allowing a smartphone to run arbitrary software is no more a security risk than allowing a computer with a 3G dongle to run arbitrary software because the logical separation between the computer and the radio is still there.

    We have rules about the capabilities of devices that can run on our roads, this is not much different.

    Last time I checked, there were no laws that claim your car is unfit to be used on the road if you're using a third party stereo, or if you're using BP petrol instead of Shell. But these sorts of things are essentially what a lot of the restrictions are all about. Placing restrictions on what the _radio_ part of the phone is allowed to do is fair enough, but placing restrictions on what the user can do with the computer part of a device isn't acceptable to a lot of people.

  • Re:Confirmed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by indiechild (541156) on Friday October 02, 2009 @12:29PM (#29618127)

    "Apple sucks" and "Apple worse than Microsoft" = guaranteed mod points.

    So how is Apple worse than Microsoft exactly?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 02, 2009 @12:42PM (#29618325)

    So what you're saying is that these people are only essential because they are made essential by other people like them.

  • Re:Confirmed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by reidconti (219106) on Friday October 02, 2009 @12:50PM (#29618429)

    "Apple sucks" and "Apple worse than Microsoft" = guaranteed mod points.

    So how is Apple worse than Microsoft exactly?

    I think we're only hearing this from people who weren't alive during the 90s.

  • Re:Confirmed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by morgauxo (974071) on Friday October 02, 2009 @01:49PM (#29619189)
    Are you for real? My network provider is not my boss. I do not work for them. I pay my money for my bandwidth. My network provider is not my parent. They should not get parental controls over me.
  • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nex[ ]k.org ['usu' in gap]> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:10AM (#29633227) Homepage

    I guess, then, that you hate what Intel is doing to stop, via hardware measures, any kind of code overflow attack. Should a hacker have the "right" to crash your media player so he can do a remote code execution attack?

    Huh? How does that commend have *anything* to do with my post?

    But anyway, I'll bite - a remote execution attacker does not have any "right" to execute code on my computer. In fact, doing so is a crime, as laid out by the Computer Misuse Act. Conversely, my phone is owned by me - I paid for it, I get to do what I like with it.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak

Working...