My friends know how much of an Apple fan I am: a self-confessed hegenomic, found of beautiful typography. The recent ‘iBrick’ crackdown shook my convictions: I love both the idea that the iPhone can succeed as a beautiful object, and open platforms. If people want to learn the hard way that design is not a democracy, so be it—great ideas will come out of it, the same way they popped off Google Maps.
Apple made clear that it’s update would ruin hacked devices; their press release received the usual headline treatment, and comments were abundant everywhere the hacks were made available. The update offered a box less easy to hack (not what those who installed the app wanted) and an exclusive access to Starbucks iTunes—what L337 hacker would buy a track, let along a Linda Lemay cheesy tune—while sipping a Posh-coffee instead of Kool-Aid? [Note: I have no idea what Kool-Aid is, but I was told this is the drink of choice when you unlock iPhones.]
What really puzzled me was that instead of the usual “I agree to sell you my soul and all of my family’s savings because I never read the ~” waiver, Apple put in bold characters that the update would ruin you device. Things were clear—users were not rational.
Jobs had to have the agreement with Starbucks rollin’: he wanted his device to be safe. He let people do something else for a while—why some users, facing the clearest of all message, neglected it? Some illusion of a Promethean invisible safety shield? This experience is an experiment in limit irrational behaviour. I don’t know of a psychological theory that would account for it, but I’d love to hear one.
Update: Someone wrote me about the “could”/“would” issue, that I hadn’t noticed first; I guess that I am a little bit too fluent in legalese.