Just As I Thought

Of iPhones and Hype

Apple means eyeballs.

One of the big news-of-the-moment stories this week was the SMS vulnerability identified in the iPhone. If you watched the news, listened to tech pundits, or read tech blogs you’d likely think that this was a huge security flaw in an Apple product, a brand generally not tarnished by viruses and the like.

The truth is, this vulnerability exists in pretty much all phones using the GSM system. I think the main difference is the severity of the vulnerability in various phone operating systems — by all accounts, exploiting the vulnerability in some phones will simply cause a malfunction, but in the iPhone it could lead to worse consequences.

Apple released an update today that fixes this vulnerability. One wonders what took them so long since it seems they were made aware of it a month ago; but one also wonders why other manufacturers are not being taken to task in an equally vociferous way. For instance, Windows Mobile phones are also vulnerable and Microsoft hasn’t released a fix. But there was nary a mention of this in the breathless news reports.

Apple means eyeballs.

For instance: Greenpeace, an organization that seems more interested in gaining publicity about saving the environment than actually doing it, issues regular press releases in which they lambast Apple for not making laptops out of compost and organic switchgrass. Yet one never sees such campaigns against other laptop manufacturers, whose products are dirtier than Apple’s. That’s because no one is interested in a headline about the environmental credentials of Dell.

Same goes for the iPhone. An SMS exploit in some Nokia phone is not going to interest local news, but the worldwide best-selling iPhone? Now, THAT’S news.

One last thing that people seem to take for granted these days: I’ve had lots and lots of phones over the years, from simple to smartphones, and the iPhone is the first one that was regularly updated — in fact, in my experience it’s the only phone that gets updated at all. Even when I had a Blackberry and a Trio, they were not updated without reading about an update on a forum and performing some technical jiggerypokery to reflash the firmware.
The iPhone just updates when you plug it in to sync. Simple.
What better way to keep it secure? How are you gonna update your Nokia to close this latest security hole? Take it to the AT&T store?

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