Apple claims iPhone updates may cripple unlocked units

By Justin Mann on September 25, 2007, 10:58 AM
For the first time since the iPhone's inception, Apple has spoken out against 3rd party modifications, claiming they can permanently damage the unit. Particularly referring to the software or hardware hacks that unlock the iPhone so that it can be used with non-AT&T providers, Apple claims that future firmware updates provided by them could have the “unintended” consequence of bricking a phone if the software was modified.

Their assertion is that they do not intend to disable hacked phones, and won't take responsibility for them:

"This has nothing to do with proactively disabling a phone that is unlocked or hacked," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in an interview. "It's unfortunate that some of these programs have caused damage to the iPhone software, but Apple cannot be responsible for ... those consequences."
That sounds to me like a way of saying you'll be voiding your warranty, but I think most people who wanted their phone unlocked assumed they were treading in dangerous ground to begin with. The rule of thumb is to always restore something to factory defaults before sending it in for repair, and with the iPhone the same might be true for updating the firmware as well.

Some are criticizing Apple's statements, dubbing them scare tactics. That most likely is true – but it's hardly unexpected.

User Comments: 4

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nirkon said:
Whoever is hacking the phones, keep doing it :)I've always hated companies that make their products only work with very specific things/companies, like only available to AT&T, it cuts down on the actual value of what you're buying, exclusiveness in products is a mistake.
Soul Harvester said:
I agree. I think it was a good move for Apple to partner with AT&T, and I don't think they did anything wrong in promoting AT&T as their "suggested" carrier for their phone. Beyond that, however, I think it was immensely stupid of them to make it an exclusive situation. I sort of see it like a cable box being sold that will only carry HBO channels, or a car that can only run on gas sold from Chevron. Apple has to respect that in this day and age, the keyword is always "choice". So until Apple "chooses" to let us use whatever provider we want, I'll "choose" to never even consider buying an iPhone (despite how much I love PDAs).
Julio said:
This is a common practice among cell phone service providers and manufacturers. It is not commonplace for computer companies however, but Apple is one of the few that is known to be more closed on the way they do business (not to mention Apple users are known to follow suit with most of what Apple has to offer to them).
icye said:
Apple is demanding that Rogers AT&T Canada to make sure all potential clients sign a data plan + phone plan. Negotiations have broken down and there is no word that the iPhone will be available anytime soon. Unlocked iPhones are the only way people here can use the phone on a GSM network in Canada. IMAO, iPhones are more like a status symbol then a functional PDA.
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