Why Does The iPhone Have A Crippled Bluetooth?

Ah! The iPhone, the device that has made people go bonkers. Keeping my thoughts on the device aside, one of the biggest complaints against the iPhone is the crippled bluetooth support it has. The fact that it cannot send files over bluetooth is considered as one of the major flaws for a cellular device in 2008. I too think so, I hate the fact that a ~22k (gray market) device does not allow me to share pictures I take from my phone to the other phone and vice-versa.

I was reading the newspaper today, Mumbai Mirror to be specific. The Business section carried an article – It’s ringing losses for the mobile content industry. The article says that the sales of mobile oriented content (wallpapers, ringtones, videos & songs) is worth ~500 crores. But they face losses as big as 250 crores due to content piracy. According to Mr. Savio D’Souza, secretary-general Indian Music Industry (IMI) trasnferring copyrighted content over bluetooth is illegal and this is the biggest source of revenue loss due to copyright infringement. He says that, “Mobile-chip piracy comes under provisions 51, 52A, 63, 65 & 65A and poeple who transfer songs & ringtones are liable for punishments under the same act.”

Mr. D’Souza said that his organization has started talks with cellphone manufacturers like Nokia “to adopt measures that block further sharing of copyrighted content on the handsets.” – A line that answers the million dollar question.

The article was about losses incurred due to piracy by cell-phone content & music industry but in turn answered a question that has baffled me for long. Apple is the biggest online retailer of music and it sure knows how it feels to be cheated of revenue due to piracy. It is a company that does not even allow installation of it’s software on non-Apple hardware, forget allowing sharing DRMed content freely!

I am pretty sure that not allowing users to freely transfer songs & other copyrighted material over bluetooth was the reason why Apple took such a step, but I guess for a company like Apple it makes sense. It has allowed syncing of the phone with iTunes because you will want to transfer your songs to your other devices.