Follow-up to this.

So Apple did it again with the iPhone: Great product, but you have to use it on its terms (back when Apple was only in the computer business, it was the OS – today, as it enters the realm of phones+, it’s the carrier). So thanks for designing the phone we’ve all been waiting for, Apple, but no thanks on the two year agreement with Cingular. It isn’t that I have a thing against Cingular, but I love my Verizon service, and I don’t see myself leaving them anytime soon. No matter how cool the hardware, the network and customer service are a little bit more important to me and my business than… flash. Sorry.

Come on, Apple. Would it really have been so damn hard to let us – your customers – decide who our provider should be? Would it really have killed you to leave the choice to us? Must you always dictate the how?

Hey, you can use our computers, but you have to use our OS. Sorry.

Hey, you can use our ultra-cool mp3 player, but you can only download files from our web service.

Hey, our wheels are the fastest and sexiest, but they’ll only work with Continental tires.

Hey, you can drive our energy efficient cars, but they’ll only work with our proprietary Exxon fuel.

Apple. Seriously. You break my heart. You could have dominated this market, but you chose to put limits on your own success. Again. And please don’t try and tell me that you only want 5-20% of the market. It might make creative types who already own all of your toys feel special and everything, but I’m not buying it.

*Sigh.*

Fortunately, those of us who aren’t already signed up with Cingular will soon have an alternative. Engadget points us to the LG KE850, which may be a pretty potent alternative to the cool but sadly restrictive iPhone. The 850 has already earned a Product Design Award back in December from International Forum Design, so it’s off to a good start. I look forward to getting my hands on one this spring.

Will iPhone be better than the 850? Maybe. Will it dominate the cellie market for a while the same way it seems to dominate the mp3 player market? It’s possible. Will it be an object of envy for years to come? Certainly. But if the other major carriers like Verizon, Sprint, Alltel and T-Mobile offer the 850 as an alternative, iPhone may regret having backed itself into Cingular’s corner for the next two years.

Especially if the 850 comes at a more attractive pricepoint and gets some styling TLC, (I’ll take mine either in pearl white or carbon-fiber weave, thanks,) and probably a better name. (KE850 is um… not… as enticing as iPhone.) I’m sure the fine folks at LG will come up with something a little cooler.

The best design in the world isn’t enough when you keep it chained in your backyard. In order for your product to reach its full potential, you have to release it into the marketplace and not get in the way of its success. In other words, Steve Jobs, you have to let your babies go. You have to set them free. And that’s something you still don’t seem to get.

The verdict on iPhone: One giant step forward for design, and one giant leap back for user freedom. At least for now. Pitty.