One name we haven’t seen in the Net Neutrality debate is Apple, Inc. Though Jobs & Company are cozy neutral net advocate Google, they also just launched iPhone with AT&T exclusivity. And that brings up some interesting questions, the most interesting of which: Is Is Buying An iPhone A Vote Against Net Neutrality?
It wasn’t too long ago that former AT&T chief Ed Whitacre, who has been vocal about his and his company’s opposition to Net Neutrality regulation, expressed an interest in which historically has been on the pro side of the issue. We pondered then what a buyout would mean for the Net Neutrality cause.
News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, also not a fan of regulation, reportedly offered to swap MySpace for a 25% stake in Yahoo. Neither of these offers were accepted, and so far Yahoo has not, at least publicly, reversed its stance on the issue.
But all of these “entangling alliances,” to borrow from George Washington in advance of Independence Day, can make you wonder which side of the debate supporters are likely to land, especially when big bags of money are involved.
The public is known to vote with its pocketbook, especially in leaner times, and likewise, the public’s representatives are sometimes known to do the same, except the money flow is more direct and reversed.
So one would assume, though the company has been pretty quiet about it, that Apple would be a fan of Net Neutrality, especially with its flagship online product iTunes directly at stake. Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on the board at Apple and there has even been speculation about a merger. “AppleGoo,” Schmidt joked at the iPhone unveiling.
But here’s Apple, which has its own fanatical tech-cult bowing and seizing at the base of the pyramid each time Steve Jobs tosses something down, locking up its fans into a two-year, amazingly expensive contract with the devâ€¦biggest Net Neutrality opponent there is.
Yet, the same Apple Cult that waited in line for a week to buy the iPhone (where do these people work, and how do you request time off to buy a phone?) is the same group that has been highly vocal about supporting Net Neutrality. Now, they’re a big part of the funding against.
Admittedly, that is like saying that buying certain sneakers is supporting child labor or buying marijuana supports terrorism.
Even so, I still try to avoid buying anything from China, as impossible as it seems, to avoid these moral dilemmas. The free market economy works that way, boycott companies you don’t like, vote for them by supporting them with money.
Are there other options if you want (have to have) the iPhone. No. Though it has been established that consumers have a right to switch out their SIM cards and use their phones with other carriers, the iPhone is designed so it only works with AT&T’s network.
Jobs has said this is so the phone will work on 80% of the world’s networks, but the States, it seems incredibly anticompetitive, which is AT&T’s primary MO.
To be fair, it’s unclear that having a choice of carriers would matter. Verizon has been just as vocal against Net Neutrality as the new Ma Bell. T-Mobile? Wouldn’t count on them, parent company Deutsche Telekom doesn’t seem to be a big fan, either. Sprint-Nextel? They’ve been noticeably quiet on the issue, but they seem to like Net Neutrality henchman Sen. Ted Stevens pretty well.
Article by Jason Lee Miller, a WebProNews editor and writer covering business and technology.