Apple to nuke unlocked iPhones with next update

Apple to nuke unlocked iPhones with next update

Summary: Apple is playing hardball with the unlocked iPhone movement. In a terse statement, Apple said "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.

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Apple is playing hardball with the unlocked iPhone movement.

In a terse statement, Apple said "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 also said that it "has discovered" the irreparable damage. Gee, think AT&T asked Apple to nuke these renegade programs?

The company added that it will release its next iPhone software update later this week. In other words, if your iPhone is set up for automatic updates it will become an iBrick. Apple's take:

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.

In other words, if you unlock the iPhone you are iScrewed. See Jason O'Grady's unlocking iPhone chronicles.

Topics: IT Employment, Apple, CXO, iPhone, Mobility

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  • Seriously...

    Has Apple really gone to such extremes as to prevent grass roots innovation?

    When owners of iPod (and I do emphasize "owners" and not "lessees") take it upon themselves to modify the software for their own use, isn't that at their own risk? If it works for them and continues to work for them, Apple still made a buck off of them.

    Instead, Apple is proactively slapping their hands, essentially coming into their homes and saying "NO... You cannot do this... ZAP!"

    Here's a real question. Those who unlocked their phones... Would they have chosen to buy the iPhone/contract with AT&T? These are people who went to great lengths to avoid working with AT&T and going with their carrier of choice. Seems to me that if that's the case, they wouldn't have gone iPhone/AT&T and thus wouldn't have bought the iPhone in the first place. Thus, Apple has managed to make money off of this "miscreant" group.

    AT&T is known for dictating and that's exactly what they're doing here.

    I brought up the question of fair use before. Doesn't fair use become more relevant now? I bought the iPhone, I tinkered with it as I saw fit, and now Apple is telling me Nope, you cannot do that... ZAP!
    yyuko@...
    • All about the contract

      AT&T paid Apple to be exclusive. The consumer has to deal with that.

      A few years back, my sister bought a computer for a very good price. However, she was required to use MSN service for 2 years.

      The reason she got her computer for that price was because of the tie-in with MSN.

      The only way out of an AT&T contract should be to pay out AT&T. But I doubt they are buying.

      I find it funny that that people would shell out the $500 knowing this could (and should) happen, yet are still complaining about it. you took the risk - deal with it!
      Joe_Racer
      • Took the risk?

        But aren't there some people who did NOT buy into the AT&T contract but simply bought the phone alone? I could be wrong here, but that's what I thought was happening, in order to avoid the lockin to AT&T and stick with their provider of choice.
        yyuko@...
        • No, they did it so as..

          not to be locked into AT&Ts plans. They went for pay-as-you-go. A different thing.
          msalzberg
        • <heavy sigh>

          [b]But aren't there some people who did NOT buy into the AT&T contract but simply bought the phone alone? I could be wrong here, but that's what I thought was happening, in order to avoid the lockin to AT&T and stick with their provider of choice. [/b]

          Come on... Be real here. The BIG problem - the damned iPhone was KNOWN for 6 months BEFORE it was released that it was going to be an AT&T EXCLUSIVE.

          You DO know the meaning of the word EXCLUSIVE - right? It means, you want the bloody iPhone, you have to use AT&T's service. Period. No unlocking it and using it on T-Mobile. And you can forget about Verizon, Sprint, AllTell and MetroPCS because they use an entirely DIFFERNT technology. That was the contract. You buy the Jesus phone and you MUST use AT&T.

          Most NON AT&T users would probably stick with their current provider - as long as they're happy with the service. But then again, this isn't a perfect world and you don't always get what you want.

          In the real world, if you break the contract by modifying the phone, you just HAD to know that Apple would do something to retaliate. Apple's been KNOWN to be anal retentive about things like this. You can't run OSX on generic Intel (or AMD) hardware. You MUST run it on boxes THEY produce. Period.

          If you should happen to get one of those OSX hacks that do allow you to run it on generic hardware, you can't exactly go crying to Apple for support if and when a problem should develop. You can't expect Apple's patches to work either with 100% reliability.

          This isn't a Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, or other phone. This IS Apple. They don't really care. Once they've sold the phone to the carrier, that's the end of the revenue stream (except, perhaps when it comes to accessories - but that's another story all together). Apple is getting a piece of AT&T's monthly action. If you cut the AT&T "cord" and go to T-Mo, T-Mo isn't going to give Apple a dime of their income.

          And let's NOT forget AT&T can't be too thrilled about the hacks either. They're supposed to have an exclusive deal with AT&T for FIVE LONG YEARS. It's not much good to them if some "punk" figures out a way to make their exclusive baby work on the competition's network.

          Nor can you really call what these hackers were doing "grass roots innovation" - if anything, it's garden variety hacking. There's nothing "innovative" about this. There's nothing new in unlocking a phone. Nor is it innovative to put an iPhone on T-Mobile given that T-Mo has NO support for some of the really "innovative" features of the bloody thing - like visual voicemail and such. So, the hack, while it does give you the apparent freedom to use another service, also cripples the phone's features. That's innovation??
          Wolfie2K3
          • This isn't Motorola - that's a GOOD thing?

            I don't see how Apple could be any worse than Motorola. We purchased two KRZR phones directly from Motorola a couple of weeks ago, and the things are absolute GARBAGE. The personalized ringtones don't work ("this will be addressed in a future software upgrade") and they often simply don't ring at all! Turning off the personalized ringers does nothing - that part of the software doesn't work either. One of the phones simply goes buzz-buzz-buzz-buzz over and over, and the display goes white, keys stop working. The only way to get the stupid thing to work is to turn it off and back on.

            Motorola must be making these things in bin Laden's cave or something - oh, and btw, they won't take them back, even though they KNOW they don't work - if they have more than 90 minutes use, the return is denied (nice bit of undocumented larceny, huh!) I'm THROUGH with Motorola - I'm really disappointed that they don't stand behind their products. Guess I was a fool to think that they would...
            jsm555
          • That's odd

            Did you buy them directly from Motorola?

            Because I have had many cell phone troubles in my days. I usually get Motos because I like that I can customize the menus the way I want so I can use it as fast as possible, but have had to get replacements several times.

            There was one time where they sent me 4 of the same phone before I got one that worked properly. They never gave me flack about it. And I don't have insurance on my cell, so it wasn't that. However, I didn't deal directly with Motorola, I dealt with my service provider.

            Sucks for you, man. I hope you get it taken care of. I wouldn't deal with Moto, though. I'd call your cell company. If a few people have complained about the same issue, then they consider it a known problem with the hardware device and will replace it at no cost to you (well, AT&T will, I don't know about anyone else).
            laura.b
          • Evaluating the deal...

            ... is what anyone buying an iPhone needs to do.

            I bought a phone with a camera in it for less than $100, and pay as I go. That is a deal for minimal cell phone users.

            I am sure there are other deals for more regular and heavy cell users that keep costs down while keeping them in touch with whoever they need to.

            My GPS unit tells me where I need to go (I leave it in my car because that's where I need to know where I am going). My laptop or desktop gets my e-mail, and people know to phone me if it is urgent.

            The typical Apple business plan includes hype over their product. Check. Then a two tiered payment plan - initially high for the Apple hardware, and subsequent high maintenance charges. Check. The trade off for high charges is the perception of style, usability and controlled use. Check.

            When non-Apple users look at this scenerio they do what they do with other devices - try and get the good out of it and discard the bad. Apple is taking a deterent based approach to this action. It is a poor response from my perspective. Hackers always are one step ahead.

            There will be a few outcomes in the near future.

            Someone will figure out how to sidetrack this attack by Apple. It could be by making the iPhone appear to be tied to AT&T when it isn't or by providing upgrades in another way than by accepting apples updates. This will remove Apples influence over its hardware. Until a solution is found, simply turn off the updates.

            Some other company will make a better iPhone replica (and likely quite soon) or another device that does the iPhones functions better - and it will become the new rage. The iPhone will either wither and die or compete by price point.
            Information_z
          • ome other company will make a better iPhone replica (and likely quite soon)

            Already Did!! look at the Helio Ocean!

            http://compare.helio.com/

            Does MORE than the Iphone and better!
            barefoot1976
          • Problem is...

            It has the same issue as the iPhone, locked to Helios. Though Helios's plans are kind nice... almost makes me want to switch.
            ivanotter
      • Another thing...

        Your sister wasn't required to USE MSN service. She was required to enter into a 2 year contract to PAY for MSN service. She was still completely free to do whatever the heck she wanted on her computer, even if it meant double paying for ISP services.

        To use your analogy, the only thing a hacker (or unlocker) would be required to do is enter a 2 year contract with AT&T, not actually to USE AT&T service.

        Big difference here. In the current scenario, Apple is saying, if you don't use AT&T, you don't get to use your phone period.
        yyuko@...
        • Your choice not Apple's

          YYUKO said "In the current scenario, Apple is saying, if you don't use AT&T, you
          don't get to use your phone period."

          More to the point Apple is saying: if you unlocked your iPhone, don't get the
          update unless you want to be surprised.

          Apple has every right to change the software as it seems fit. Users that unlocked
          their iPhone knew this before they took the risk in unlocking their iPhones. Stop
          complaining now.
          EDIguru
          • I'll kick you in the nads and it will be YOUR fault?

            Yavoll, Her Eldugu,
            Ze consumer iz never allowed to bypass ze money maker'z rulez.
            Zey muzt be puniged. Ve did not make you drink ze kool-aid, but now zat you did, you vill dance to OUR tune. Zere iz no ezcape from Stalag Apple.

            Ztop compainink Now! Or Elze.
            Chippolus
          • Ach, zat waz funny

            Vee haf vays to make you laff
            Heil Herr Chippolus
            balaknair
          • But it's you who is trying to kick Apple...

            in the 'nads'. By hacking the phone, you're effectively trying to kick them off their legally acquired revenue stream. By the way, they didn't say they would destroy your iphone. just that any updates may not work and that they would not guarantee a hacked phone would operate at all if it is modified illegally. That makes total sense. If they are going to try to patch their system but you've changed it, they should not be expected to bear responsibility. If you modify any consumer item in a way the manufacturer did not expect and then for some reason, later, it doesn't work... you're pretty much on your own.
            Deal with it.
            mombo
          • Read it again, Candy Man.

            You guys that sugar coat the statement to make it less threatening are just polarizing in the opposite direction of the rest of us here.
            "likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed"
            Compare that to what you just said. It does not say "Updates may not work properly and you will be pretty much on your own."

            It says LIKELY results in PERMANENTLY INOPERABLE.
            Deal with that, Double on you, no touch backs.
            Chippolus
        • But unlocked phones don't use AT&T

          You are correct in your point. But to be consistent, we would have to assume that people who unlock their iphones still pay AT&T their monthly fee then use another service. I doubt that is happening.
          Unlocked iphones are being used without any revenue for AT&T, who "subsidized" the project. Or at least paid $$ to make sure all iphones ran on AT&T.
          Joe_Racer
          • unlocked phones don't use AT&T

            AT&T reached out and grabbed an apple nipple then twisted! Saying we paid you big bucks to be exclusive..Fix it make it happen or we rip your other nipple off!..
            Apple is getting a titty twist from AT&T and they may have no choice in the matter!
            aussieblnd@...
          • So What?

            Pardon me if I'm misinformed, since I don't have a cell phone and don't want one. Mainly because I don't have a real need for one (I don't need or want to be reachable [i]all[/i] of the time), but in large part because I don't want to deal with this kind of nonsense.

            However, my understanding is that when you get a cell on one of the carriers plans, the cost is usually subsidized by the carrier in return for a commitment. Was that the case here? I thought people could buy the phones directly from Apple or through AT&T and the price was the same. If you bought from Apple was there anything (in writing) that said that you had to sign up for service to purchase the phone or that you had to go with AT&T to [i]use[/i] the phone. Because if it was the latter, you as a consumer have no obligation to AT&T at all. I, as the person shelling out quite a lot of money for an iPhone, would not care how much AT&T gave Apple for it's development.

            You own the phone and you do with it what you will. If you just want to use it as an expensive iPod, that's your choice. Or even you want to put in a display case and use it as decoration. Same thing with unlocking it. Granted, if you modify it, you may void the warranty, if the mods violate the terms. But that's your choice, as it is with anything you buy.

            But this sounds like sour grapes, particularly if the [i]intent[/i] is that the update will "likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable". It's like a child saying "if you don't play by my rules, I'm taking my ball and going home". They may be within their rights, but it's a lousy way to treat a customer.

            There is enough choice in the market to be able deal with companies that act with more respect for the consumer, while discarding the ones that don't. Why competition is so important. This kind of attitude is why I don't deal with AT&T, Sony (rootkits) and now Apple.
            mds_z
        • ER.. You must think we're all rich - or insane..

          [b]Your sister wasn't required to USE MSN service. She was required to enter into a 2 year contract to PAY for MSN service. She was still completely free to do whatever the heck she wanted on her computer, even if it meant double paying for ISP services.

          To use your analogy, the only thing a hacker (or unlocker) would be required to do is enter a 2 year contract with AT&T, not actually to USE AT&T service.[/b]

          Paying DOUBLE?? Unless you've got access to say, Bill Gates' bank accounts, who in their right (or left) mind would be willing to pay $60+ to AT&T -AND- another $60 to T-Mobile..?

          So like what WOULD be the point?
          Wolfie2K3