End of the road for unlocked iPhones

So, Apple is planning to put an end to all this iPhone unlocking business by sending an update down the iTunes pipeline which, according to Apple, will make them "permanently inoperable."

So, Apple is planning to put an end to all this iPhone unlocking business by sending an update down the iTunes pipeline which, according to Apple, will make them "permanently inoperable."

Here's are the highlights of the press release [emphasis added]:

Apple has discovered that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed. Apple plans to release the next iPhone software update, containing many new features including the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, later this week. Apple strongly discourages users from installing unauthorized unlocking programs on their iPhones. Users who make unauthorized modifications to the software on their iPhone violate their iPhone software license agreement and void their warranty. The permanent inability to use an iPhone due to installing unlocking software is not covered under the iPhone's warranty.

So, the bottom line is that if you have unlocked your iPhone and you install the update due out this week, it's likely that this update will brick your iPhone and there's no point going back to Apple crying about it because you invalidated your own warranty.

[poll id=180]

Really makes you feel for people who paid top whack for the iPhone and then another $100 for the unlock program and then end up with a bricked iPhone.

I have two serious questions for Apple regarding this iPhone update:

  • What is this "irreparable damage" caused to the iPhone during the unlocking process?
  • Is it absolutely necessary to trash unlocked iPhones? 

Here's my hallucination as to how things are going to play out:

  • The update will trash unlocked iPhones
  • Hackers will figure out how to unbrick bricked iPhones
  • Hackers will figure out how to unlock the new firmware
  • Hackers will tear apart the new firmware update looking for evidence that Apple has maliciously bricked unlocked iPhones
  • This hard-line approach will dampen enthusiasm for unlocked iPhones

My ZDNet blogging colleague Larry Dignan has more thoughts here.

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