I’ve written previously about the issue of access when it comes to deploying mobile stuff like ARIS, specifically that ipod touches have a lot going for them in this regard. I’ve also written about the specific shortcomings of ipod touches compared to iphones in terms of what ARIS needs, and my solutions to those problems. Over the last week or so it occurred to me that a new solution might be entering the marketplace. Used iphones.
Apple sold a lot of iphone 4s’s this last month. Not all of those people were buying an iphone for the first time. So what happens to their iphone 3GSs? Anecdotally, they end up with the kids. I’ve also seen ads from companies who buy them for resale. But what if we could set up a donation program so that schools or other institutions could make these devices available to children? I imagine we could advertise it like our public radio station advertises old car donations. You get a tax credit, and the feeling that you’re doing good, and some school program can do cool new stuff because they now have enough mobile devices to provide access. I imagine this could be done on a variety of levels from a single teacher to a massive, Apple-led national program, and the idea of schools ending up with slightly out of date Apples is a well-worn one in this country.
The upgrading process could be a major source of devices for those trying to enact mobile programs without much money.
Of course, one of the problems with iphones is that they’re not really intended to be used unactivated. Today, John Gordon wrote a brief post about how to use an unactivated iphone. The trick to make it easy is retaining the original SIM card that was used to activate it. I don’t know what hoops we’ll have to jump through for CDMA activated phones. He also says that Face Time and iMessage work just fine in this case. I’ve also seen cut-rate SIM cards with ad-hoc service being advertised, I believe from a company that piggy backs on T-Mobile’s network. Cheap 2G data without strings attached is better than none.