My original idea was to write a critique of the article going down each complaint, but I decided against it due to length/time. My thoughts briefly/not-so briefly:
- By the author's definition, an Arduino is an "unequal" device because you can't program it from itself. And yet it's a very popular fully open source embedded computer.
- A smartphone user might consider the fact that their laptop to "not be a real network device" since it can't connect to the Internet outside of WiFi range. The complaint about battery usage applies 100% to any sort of laptop computer - if you leave your IRC client running you will most certainly eventually run out of battery. There are plenty of IRC clients for iOS and Android.
- Centralization was happening without smartphones, because it's a convenience feature for non-technical users. It's fine to criticize someone like me for backing up my photos using iCloud, but it's also important to recognize that before these centralized services existed, non-technical users really didn't have options. And there was plenty of centralization in the years leading up to smartphones: AOL, AIM, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Flickr, Xanga, LiveJournal, etc.
- They have ruined web design, says the author with the webpage from 1995 with a giant obstructing background image.
- If there are no secure smartphones, is a PC with a proprietary BIOS really secure? Is a PC tricking non-technical users to install unsigned code, toolbars, and fake anti-virus programs secure compared to a centralized app store? There is no 100% secure system, is there? It's about mitigating and reducing risk.
The tl;dr of this is that, the real flaw of this article is the author's perspective. I respect the author for holding these idealogical viewpoints, but they'll only hold weight with a tiny, tiny subculture of computing purists. There are 3 billion smartphone users out there, and many of them will never own a computer. Most people never write a line of code. This is all OK.
I'm sure there's some kind of ideological win that refraining from smartphones rewards a person with, but to me it just feels like someone who's not using the new thing because they don't understand it and want to resist change. Like how my grandparents still drive to the bank, walk up to the teller, and withdraw cash from a human. I'm sure it's nice in some ways but it's also a massive waste of time, effort, and resources.