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Upcoming Firmware Will Brick Unlocked iPhones 605

Posted by kdawson
from the slim-and-elegant-bricks dept.
iCry writes "It was rumored last week, and Apple has now confirmed it: 'Apple said today that a firmware update to the iPhone due to be released later this week "will likely result" in SIM-unlocked iPhones turning into very expensive bricks... So what are users of SIM-unlocked iPhones to do? Not run the latest software update, that's for sure. Users can instead pray to the hacking deities — the famed iPhone Dev Team that released the free software unlock, and iPhoneSIMfree, which released a commercial software unlock — to write applications that will undo the unlocks, as it were, if those users want to run the latest iPhone software.'"
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Upcoming Firmware Will Brick Unlocked iPhones

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  • by moseman (190361) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:09AM (#20741235)
    What did you expect Apple to do, sit back and watch their monthly payback from AT&T go away? And AT&T not get their expected revenue?
  • Statutory rights? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JonyEpsilon (662675) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:11AM (#20741253) Homepage
    Don't people have statutory rights with regards to purchased goods in the US? I'm pretty sure if they tried such a trick in the UK they'll get a kicking in court.
  • I think... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LLKrisJ (1021777) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:12AM (#20741259) Journal
    ... This is most likely to be just lowly scare mongering. Apple is becoming evil awfully quick.
  • by MistaE (776169) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:12AM (#20741261) Homepage
    If you look at the comments that Phil Schiller [macrumors.com] made yesterday, Apple's taking the position that they don't "mean" to brick it, but it just "might happen" anyways, which of course is total bullshit. At least they're not shooting themselves in the foot immediately by saying that they're deliberately trying to brick 'em.

    Now my question is, what exactly do they need to update that would cause such brickage.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:14AM (#20741283) Homepage Journal
    It seems to imply that running any 3rd party software on the phone voids your warranty.

    I wonder how long Apple will be able to play hardball before they are in court on the wrong end of a class action suit?
  • by Luke Dawson (956412) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:14AM (#20741287)
    What, releasing a firmware update? Or do you mean because it renders unlocked phones useless? I highly doubt it. I am sure the fine-print means you would forfeit your right to warranty and fitness for purpose if you go modifying your phone at such a basic level, so no, I am doubtful you could argue this is illegal. So long as you have the right not to accept the update, I guess. But even if the update were forced upon it, I'm sure you'd still have a hard time convincing a judge that it was an illegal act on Apple's part.
  • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:17AM (#20741311)
    I would expect that people who were smart enough to pay for the phone with a credit card would say "Hey, my phone is busted. Fix it or I'm returning it. If you don't accept the return, I'm doing a chargeback." Visa/mastercard/discover/amex provide a fairly decent product warranty program for items purchased with one of their cards.
  • And so... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by caitsith01 (606117) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:18AM (#20741331) Journal
    ...we have the unedifying spectacle of Apple fanboys scrambling to justify the exact same types of behaviour they constantly condemn Microsoft for:

    - defective by design hardware featuring crippleware to degrade functionality in the event of uses which differ from the uses the parent company approves

    - intentional attempt to force customers to buy uncompetitive/unattractive services in addition to the thing they want

    - vague and misleading corporate spin which dodges the real issue

    Apple have done some good stuff lately, particularly playing hardball over music licensing on iTunes. But this is not good, and you should have the guts to say so, just as you would if it was Microsoft or some other similar company.
  • by fymidos (512362) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:18AM (#20741333) Journal
    IANAL, but i'm pretty sure that *not byuing* the iPhone untill apple stops doing stuff like that, is perfectly legal...
  • by cyberworm (710231) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [mrowrebyc]> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:21AM (#20741369) Homepage
    Smart is irrelevant. It's the morality of it. If you went out and bought an iPhone and didn't plan on using att, this is what you get. They clearly state that the iphone will only work on their network. If you decide to prove that wrong and mess up your phone why should Apple and/or the credit card companies exchange your money/replace your iphone?

    Maybe I should go spike mine down onto the pavement then return it for a replacement as well?
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:24AM (#20741393) Homepage Journal
    Apple's taking the position that they don't "mean" to brick it, but it just "might happen" anyways, which of course is total bullshit. - you cannot prove that this is total bullshit though. You may believe it, but whether it is true is totally arguable. If Apple is fixing a security flaw in their code that by chance happened to be the same flaw that was exploited to unlock the phone, then it can be very easily argued that this is just a real security patch. Now, would have they fixed it if it wasn't used to unlock the phone, this I don't know, maybe yes, maybe no.

    Oh, and I don't own any IPayApple products and don't care about them, not a fan, but I see how the fan's minds work here: they buy IPayToApple products and rightfully expect to use them anyway they want, not how the Apple intended. But from Apple point of view this is a 'total experience' package, not just a piece of hardware. So they may introduce a patch that will 'brick' the phone. However the fans still expect to upgrade with Apple firmware and continue using the phones the way they want. Well obviously this is a conflict of interest for both sides. Should Apple have to provide you with meaningful upgrades once you unlock? I don't see how you can make them. Don't install their upgrades now, that you are really just using the phone in a way that is different from the 'total experience' Apple intended. Now you just own a piece of hardware and it is up to you how to use it.
  • by fymidos (512362) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:26AM (#20741437) Journal
    Actually it very much resembles the actions taken by apple to make sure that macintosh will lose the battle against IBM PC's and MS-DOS back in the 80s ...
  • by Bartab (233395) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:26AM (#20741441)
    You're nuts. The iPhone as purchased continues to work. If you do something to unlock it and it bricks, well you shouldn't have violated the warranty by unlocking it.

    You should feel happy that Apple is warning people that if they unlocked the phone they shouldn't install the update. They didn't have to do that.

    You can be sure that any iPhone returned for warranty will be checked for unlocking and returned unfixed if found. As has been said many times, you can sue anybody for anything in the US. In this case, you won't win.
  • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:29AM (#20741481) Journal
    Anyone who owns an iPod will know the firmware gets updated fairly regularly will fixes and on occasion new features too. To hack your own firmware onto an Apple device is tight-rope-walking at best.

    For goodness sake people, you don't buy Apple products because they're cheap or because you want to save money; nay fellow brethren, you buy because Apple products are the coolest, the best user-tested, and yea, because you are blessed enough to afford luxury. It comes at a price.

    Amen.
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:29AM (#20741491)
    If you own something, its yours. You paid for it, you paid taxes on your purchase, you completed the transaction.

    If a company intentionally destroys your property and thus denies you the rightful use of your property, how is that *ANY* different than a DDOS?

    If Apple does this, it should be sued into the ground. I'm not talking just statutory damages, I'm talking "punitive" damages intended to reduce the likelihood they do this crap again. If every iPhone use who gets bricked sues for $1m, it could be interesting.

    I am sick of U.S. companies treating customers like shit. Damn it! Make a good product, sell a million of them, and support your customers. What the hell is so difficult about that formula? It is the basis of real capitalism, not this fascist lock you in and bend you over crap companies are doing today.
     
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:32AM (#20741507)
    Possible reaction from Apple: "Oh, sure we can fix it." And when you get it back, you'll find out that the fix includes re-installing the simlock.
  • by cyberworm (710231) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [mrowrebyc]> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:33AM (#20741511) Homepage
    If you don't like AT&T don't get an iPhone. Nobody is forcing you to buy one and you're definately not entitled to own one just because it exists.
  • by DustyShadow (691635) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:34AM (#20741523) Homepage
    Morality leaves the equation when a billion dollar corporation is on the other end of the transaction. Also, Apple is the one not playing fair here. Not the iPhone owners.
  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:40AM (#20741579)
    You're absolutely right! It's called the free market. Apple is free to tie their product exclusively to AT&T. They are free to lock out all third party apps. And I'm free to take my business elsewhere. Which I fully intend to do.
  • by cyberworm (710231) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [mrowrebyc]> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:41AM (#20741597) Homepage
    I think the unlocked iPhone owners are the ones not playing fair. THEY KNOWINGLY took the risk of bricking their iPhones when they unlocked them. They knew (or should have known) that the potential for the iphone to become unusable in the future existed.

    If morality leaves the equation when a billion dollar corporation is on the other end, what makes you think fairness stayed? As far as I know, nothing requires Apple to sell you an iPhone at all. What isn't fair, is voiding your warranty then crying foul when it breaks.

    I don't agree with bricking unlocked iphones, but you were warned.
  • by Kymri (1093149) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:43AM (#20741611)
    In my mind, morality is never, ever dependent upon who is on the other end of the equation. Only justifications are dependent upon that.

    You may consider it justified to steal from someone who has billions and immoral to steal from someone who doesn't (I'm not saying unlocking an iPhone is stealing, I am just using an obvious example), but the morality of theft depends on if it is theft or not, not who the victim is.

    (Admittedly - this is purely my position and opinion, and not absolute fact.)
  • why try ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by richlv (778496) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:43AM (#20741613)
    right. so why do so many people try to hack the device desperately ? if the vendor does not want your money, your contributions - go to another.

    like, already mentioned fic neo with openmoko/qtopia.

    instead, painful attempts to hack or use the device that the manufacturer has quite clearly noted it does not want to be hacked (or even used, in some cases :) )
  • by dominux (731134) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:44AM (#20741623) Homepage
    WiFi support for OpenMoko is in the works. Current Neo1973 GTA01 does not include a wireless LAN chip, but the upcoming Neo1973 GTA02 is going to have one: Atheros AR6K 802.11 b/g. http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/WiFi_support_in_OpenMoko [openmoko.org]
  • by arkanes (521690) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [senakra]> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:51AM (#20741697) Homepage
    The iPhone is hardware, and as such you can't disclaim warranties of fitness for purpose the way you can with software. It's amazing to me how many people here are so willing to just accept any sort of claim that a company can do anything it wants to your product, *after* you buy it. You probably voided your warranty, but if Apple intentionally pushes a brick update, or even has a good reason to believe it'll brick it, there's all kinds of justification for a claim.

    Unlocking phones is something that is explicitly legal in the US - there's even a DMCA exemption for it. There's absolutely no legal justification for doing this.

    Furthermore, Apple got their money, and so did AT&T - you can't buy an iPhone without a contract, so everyone with an unlocked phone already paid everyone involved. There's no moral justification for doing this either. Apple is getting arrogant in its success, and it's making the same old "lock everything down" mistakes that led to it being destroyed by the PC.

    The people who have iPhones right now are, by and large, Apples best customers. They're early adopters, who love shiny gadgets and who are willing to pay a premium to get the latest thing right away. They're the bread and butter of Apples product line. They don't give a damn about AT&T, though, and bricking their phone in an attempt to force people to stay with them would be a huge mistake.

  • by schon (31600) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:53AM (#20741713)

    I think the unlocked iPhone owners are the ones not playing fair.
    Poor Apple - people are buying things from them and then using them in ways that Apple hadn't intended! That's so totally unfair to Apple I can't believe it!

    I mean god forbid that someone would buy something and then not expect the vendor to have complete and utter control over it! What is this world coming to?!?!
  • by Moridineas (213502) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:56AM (#20741749) Journal
    Yeah seriously, just the other day I broke my Xbox while installing a modchip--it doesn't work at all now!

    Yet those MICROSOFT FAT CATS won't let me return it--can you believe that??
  • by slashname3 (739398) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:57AM (#20741757)
    "not legal as they are challenging a consumer's right to do with his personally owned property what he wishes."

    Apple is not going to go out and force those users to install the update. Those users that have voided their warranties and unlocked their phones were given a warning. Apple was actually being nice instead of just putting out the update and then having a huge splash in the news when all those unlocked iPhones suddenly turned into bricks.

    Once someone unlocked the phone Apple's no longer has an responsibility to make future updates work with that hack. The end user is responsible. The end user can do whatever they want with the product. Just don't go back to the company that sold it to you and complain if you can not get it to work outside of the network they told you it was designed for.

  • quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darth Maul (19860) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:00AM (#20741783) Homepage
    This quote from Airplane! seems appropriate:
    "Shanna, they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash."

    Honestly, they are not using the iPhone as intended and they full well knew it. To make Apple take into account third-party hackery is just silly. I'm not saying I like the idea of a locked-down iPhone in the first place, but that is not the argument here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:03AM (#20741819)
    WTF is with all this talk about warranty breaking? This is not about unlocking the phone, breaking it and expecting Apple to fix it under warranty - it's about Apple threatening to BREAK WORKING DEVICES that DON'T REQUIRE WARRANTY SERVICE (yet) just because you didn't stick to the 'approved' telephony provider.

    Or are you telling me that it's OK for Apple to break it, but if it's unlocked I can't go and ask them to fix it back?
  • Re:And so... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by UnanimousCoward (9841) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:04AM (#20741837) Homepage Journal
    Okay, I'll bite. I don't consider myself a fanboi (the iPhone is the first Apple product I've bought since the 128K Mac):

    defective by design hardware featuring crippleware to degrade functionality in the event of uses which differ from the uses the parent company approves...

    I am comfortable with what Apple needs to do to maintain its relationship with AT&T wrt the iPhone. Without AT&T (and I'm not saying I like AT&T), there'd be no iPhone.

    intentional attempt to force customers to buy uncompetitive/unattractive services in addition to the thing they want...

    "Force" implies monopoly. Dude, you are not "forced" to do anything here--buy a Blackberry.

    vague and misleading corporate spin which dodges the real issue...

    Really? What part do you think is misleading? Apple has an agreement with AT&T. They are doing what they can (and, btw, are legally entitled to do) to maintain that relationship while the agreement is in place.

    I cannot believe that people who hacked their phones (or support the hack philosophy) to work outside the intent of Apple are up in arms that they've taken matters into their own hands.

  • by Applekid (993327) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:05AM (#20741855)

    What isn't fair, is voiding your warranty then crying foul when it breaks.
    It's one thing to void your warranty and crying that they won't fix your mistake. It's another thing altogether to void your warranty and have them reach out and break an otherwise 100% working phone.
  • Moral Frameworks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Morosoph (693565) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:16AM (#20741975) Homepage Journal
    There are times when the lesser of two evils applies. A utilitarian framework would make this explicit, but there are times when rather than numerical comparison of numbers who are "happy" or whatever, a higher principle comes into play.

    As an example, the iPhone could be unlocked abroad (where there is no AT&T) so that the owner can reach their insurer for payment for an essential operation.

    I agree that this isn't a matter of who the other party is, but there are all sorts of times when one has cause to distrust someone, and it is reasonable to treat them differently from someone who you do trust. Do you go out of your way to help someone who has cried "wolf" too many times, when there are others who haven't?

    The DMCA was recently deliberately ammended to allow phones to be cracked for the purpose of running on other networks; Apple is already running against the spirit of the law, and possibly also the letter. Cracking the phone is moral, for Apple know the laws that apply, and their intent, when they are selling the iPhone; they have no excuse to complain.

    Those who have cracked their phones, or had them cracked, did so in the rational expectation that doing so would be legal, and indeed allowed. Apple's behaviour is shady, even if it is not illegal.

  • by Lars T. (470328) <[moc.liamelgoog] [ta] [regearT.sraL]> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:19AM (#20741997) Journal
    is that they won't check future software updates to the iPhone to work with each and every unlocking hack somebody came up with.
  • by cyberworm (710231) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [mrowrebyc]> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:21AM (#20742025) Homepage

    And because Apple knew full well that people would want to hack the iPhone, and they should have tried to make the system safely hackable, even if they didn't want any users doing it.


    That is some seriously flawed logic. Look, the iPhone was promised to only work on Cingular/Att. That's it. That's all. You had three simple choices.

    a)buy iphone with att service
    b)buy iphone, unlock it, and bite the bullet
    c)don't buy iphone

    Apple isn't obligated to do any of the things you mentioned. All Apple has done, is sell a device that works as advertised. That is their only obligation.
  • by cyberworm (710231) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [mrowrebyc]> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:25AM (#20742089) Homepage
    if it's working 100%, I guess you won't be updating yours and you have nothing to worry about. :D
  • by ubrgeek (679399) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:28AM (#20742131)
    As far as I can tell, this is marked troll and the parent flamebait because it speaks of Apple in a bad light. I'm as big an Apple fanboy as anyone (five+ macs at home and have been using them for years) but that doesn't change the fact that Apple is in the wrong here. What's wrong with Cyberworm saying so? (And here comes the mark-me-downs...)
  • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:33AM (#20742193) Homepage Journal
    The obvious solution is, don't buy the damn things. Why should Apple treat its customers right when it can treat them wrong and they STILL buy their overhyped phones?
  • Yes and no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aepervius (535155) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:43AM (#20742345)
    He is not entitled to own one, but ONCE he owns one, he is entitled to keep it in the state it is, or even burn it on a bonfire if he wishes. OTOH Apple cannot force an update on the iPhone on him, because Apple did not license the iPhone or Contract the iPhone usage to him, Apple sold it.
  • by joeytmann (664434) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:43AM (#20742351)
    Go ahead and buy your car from NonExistentCarCompany. Then go buy a cpu upgrade to up the cars performance, burn out the piston rings and crack a cylinder head the go back to the dealer of the NonExistentCarCompany and ask them to fix it. They will look at your cpu upgrade and go, sorry this isn't under warranty you have to pay for it.

    use a product, any product, outside of the way it was designed and marketed to sell at your OWN risk and we the company are not liable. I do believe this is pretty much standard language of any warranty on any product being sold today.
  • by cgh4be (182894) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:46AM (#20742397)
    I don't understand all the uproar. All you geeks think you should be able to buy something, jab a screwdriver into it and then expect the manufacturer to support it.

    If you buy a car from GM, install an after-market modification (some kind of performance chip, etc.), it is quite possible that they may issue a recall that would either a) be denied b/c of your after-market modification, b) cause your modification to stop working or c) cause your car to stop working. Do you think it's GM's responsibility to test each an every modification that someone might make to a car before releasing a recall? Do you think it's Apple's responsibility to test each and every possible software hack out there before releasing an update?

    They are selling their phone as a closed-box device, like a toaster or a DVD player. If you want to screw with it, fine, but don't expect any help from Apple getting it to work again. Quit complaining.
  • by abaddononion (1004472) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:52AM (#20742479)
    That's a fine point, but I'll respond with the standard question (and, maybe this doesnt apply to you. I have no previous history with you, so I dont know):

    Why is it that when a company like Microsoft or Oracle does some sort of lock-in or stunt like this, they're "so evil" and it's just such a demonstration of how evil they are, but when Apple does it they're just "doing what a business has to do"?

    You are absolutely correct in your point. Apple is no way obligated to "support" hacked iPhones. However, how does it BENEFIT them to go after the phones and turn them into bricks? And you can just about bet with safe odds that this WAS deliberate. They are going after these hacked iPhones as if they were a threat to the company and their profits, and that, to me, is just... well, asshole.

    I agree that Apple's not obligated to supply full support for hacked iPhones. I agree with that 100%. And if this new bricking was *caused* by a REAL feature-upgrade that Apple was trying to do, and it *happened* to collide with the hacks... then that's fine and dandy and sucks for everyone. However, I dont think anyone believes that's what is actually happening here. Apple (like Sony), has shown again and again that they are SERIOUSLY against homebrewing of any sort, and will implement over and over again whatever features they can to stymie those efforts. Everyone can readily admit that Sony is a bunch of assholes over their handling of the PSP. Why is it just SO hard for people to admit it with Apple? As I said, maybe this doesnt apply to you. Maybe you're always even-handed and would have come out and supported Microsoft or Sony or any of those other companies if they were doing this exact same stunt. However, if you would not have, perhaps you should take a look at yourself and consider "You might be a fanboy".
  • by Platinum Dragon (34829) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:55AM (#20742527) Journal
    If Apple + AT&T weren't prepared to deal with that gaping hole in their business plan, they deserve to lose money. There is no law that guarantees profit, and it's not up to iPhone owners to fulfill a deal made between Apple and AT&T.

    Apple made a mistake by locking the iPhone to a single provider. If Apple's execs are shocked and appalled that computer nerds are modifying what is basically a portable computer, they need to be replaced with people who actually understand what techies will do with computers and plan accordingly.
  • by sabinm (447146) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:56AM (#20742529) Homepage Journal
    Let's get beyond the fact of bricking. This response is wrong on so many levels. There was no contractural obligation to sign up with ATT. I can buy a million Iphones and simply use them as expensive Ipods. That's my choice. No one was obligated to buy the AT&T service (of course most did, because it brought intended value to the purchase). ATT can't sue anyone for anything if they never signed up for a plan with them. To say so speaks volumes to how much Apple and AT&T's PR progam has fooled you into thinking you're somehow morally and legally obligated to purchase both the phone AND the plan.

    In addition, it's completely legal to unlock your phone under the DCMA to use on other carriers. It's one of the few exceptions allowed to 'consumers'. Now I don't have an Iphone so I don't really have a dog in this fight. I don't really care if some random guy's phone gets bricked or not. Do I think it's a dumb move? Yes. Do I think apple is completely justified in protecting it's revenue stream? Yes. You can bet the AT&T and Apple's legal department are very carefully looking at just how much effort Apple puts into ensuring their two year exclusivity agreement remains exclusive. You can also bet the other carriers around the world with whom Apple has a contract are looking at the results of Apple's efforts to squash cell phone freedom. These are completely different issues that you shouldn't confuse. I just wanted to let you know that you are completely wrong about contractural obligations. Do you think those guys from "Does It Blend" are liable to AT&T for blending their Ipod without purchasing a cell phone contract?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:58AM (#20742555)
    A mod chip is probably different from a software change.

    Let me put it in slashdot terms:

    A dell/hp/whatever computer (hardware like the iphone) you buy has the warranty voided when you load linux (the iphone software unlocker or 3rd party app). Does that sound reasonable or fair?
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AVee (557523) <`slashdot' `at' `avee.org'> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:58AM (#20742557) Homepage

    Apple has every right to protect what they've sold.


    No, they don't. They sold it, you know, thats when something changes from one owner to another. It's supposed to be *your* iPhone. That's a pretty basic concept and it's scary to see how people are losing sight of those things when you show them some shiny gadget. There is al lot of that stuff out there, like "Never mind the DRM, look shiny new Aero interface!" or "Never mind your privacy, look shiny new web 2.0 website!".
  • by SimHacker (180785) * on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:12AM (#20742751) Homepage Journal

    Q: How many cops does it take to push a suspect down a stairwell?

    A: None, he just slipped!

    So the Apple version is:

    Q: How many firmware updates does it take to sabotage an unlocked iPhone?

    A: None, it just bricked!

    Which just goes to show:

    Q: What do you get when you cross Apple and AT&T?

    A: AT&T!

    -Don

  • Re:quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by graffix_jones (444726) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:13AM (#20742759)
    How trivial is it to perform a firmware checksum prior to attempting the update (via the updater)? If the checksum fails, the firmware updater can do one of two things: it can offer to reset the firmware to factory defaults (i.e. a 'complete' restore), or it can simply show a splash screen refusing the update until the iPhone is restored to factory defaults.

    This crap of bricking the iPhone is pure nonsense, when it's easy enough to avoid without completely pissing off the customer.

    Remember the old adage: "Whether you CAN do something is irrelevant, it's whether or not you SHOULD do it." (I know I mangled that, so please don't nail me on correctness).
    Words of wisdom, those are (to paraphrase Yoda).
  • by abaddononion (1004472) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:15AM (#20742777)
    There is a large difference in taking it back to NonExistentCarCompany and saying "Please fix my car", and NonExistentCarCompany pushing out an upgrade via WLAN that will cause your car to get auto-upgraded and stop dead in the middle of the road somewhere.

    Or, better yet, say you took your car to NonExistentCarCompany, and they said "This isnt under warranty", and then ran a software upgrade which caused your car not to start anymore. Now, even further, imagine that this "problem" wasnt a mistake at all, but they are DELIBERATELY crippling your upgraded vehicle.

    The issue here isnt about whether or not Apple is required to take care of hacked iPhone user's phones. The issue here is that Apple is almost certainly SABOTAGING a product that you bought from them, and ARE USING WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE LAW.

    Right, you're not using the product within limits of the warranty. That's fine and well. But you ARE using it legally, and Apple is going out of their way to DESTROY YOUR property. To me, this is tantamount to vandalism on a semi-massive level, and whether or not Apple is within bounds of the law here DOES need to be questioned.

    Remember, if they are DELIBERATELY disabling these iPhones, they are *not* working on THEIR devices. They are going after other people's merchandise and shutting it off, not because you broke the law, but because they just "dont approve of what you're doing with the device they manufactured".

    Even Microsoft at least has the fallback standpoint of "We're trying to stop the people who steal our software, which we have a right to charge for". People with unlocked iPhones didnt STEAL the iPhone. They already paid Apple their damn money. And if Apple is going after them to shut them off for "not being our ass-slaves and doing everything the exact way we tell you to", then in my opinion this is completely unacceptable corporate behavior. It only remains to be seen how the legal system feels (or is paid to feel) about that.
  • by Shawn Parr (712602) <(parr) (at) (shawnparr.com)> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:16AM (#20742795) Homepage Journal

    Apple's taking the position that they don't "mean" to brick it, but it just "might happen" anyways, which of course is total bullshit.

    Except if you read the TUAW guide to re-locking [tuaw.com] that some people who tried to re-lock the phone found that it didn't work anymore. Some have gotten it to work again by re-unlocking, but eitherway the process seems to munge the IMEI.

    Maybe, just maybe, and I know many people will have to take of the tinfoil hats to believe this, Apple actually has test units that they try out all these published hacks on. And maybe they discovered that if you used one of the SIM unlock methods it caused an issue that a baseband upgrade found in their new firmware upgrade will cause a problem. And maybe, just maybe, in order to avoid a flurry of bad press, they slipped this information out so that people who would be affected would have a chance to try to reverse what they have done first, or avoid the update until the hackers figure it out, so that there aren't stories all over the net this week about how Apple killed the iPhones that were hacked.

    Yes, Apple has said that they don't want the iPhone SIM hacked, and they have to since they have exclusive deals with carriers. Heck since they seem to be getting a cut of service fees they probably really don't want you to do it, even though it will lead to more sales of units, especially if the fees work out to as much or more than the profit they make on the device itself. However in those same quotes of Jobs and Schiller saying that they don't want to see SIM unlocks, they also mention being interested in non-network local apps, and the possibility of doing something with them in the future.

  • Re:Sort of. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:26AM (#20742969) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, I think Microsoft is in the right here. Someone playing with a modded XBox on XBL could wreck the experience for the other people using the system. They're protecting their other customers from jerks who just want to cheat or worse. I have no doubt that the console game writers have holes in their network code that could be exploited remotely if someone was on there with a modded client, and since the 360 has persistent storage there is danger for permanent harm to other people's systems.

    Apple however is just protecting AT&T's revenue stream with their bricking, which goes against the Slashdot mantra of "Your failed business plan is not my problem".
  • by abaddononion (1004472) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:27AM (#20742973)
    If the warranty states that the manufacturer doesn't support unauthorized hacks and will void the warranty, then you do your mods at your own risk.

    Fair enough. However, the warranty does not state "the manufacturer doesn't support unauthorized hacks and will deliberately try to destroy your device if you use them". In fact, they're not even legally ALLOWED to pull that sort of thing. Once you buy an iPhone, it's yours, and Apple certainly doesnt have the right to come to your home and smash it with a sledgehammer if they dont like how you're using it. It seems that this is all that they're doing, merely in software form.

    The big question over whether this is right or wrong is really "Was it honestly an accident?" And... given Apple's previous stances and history with lock-in and proprietarianism (that's a hell of a made-up word), I dont think any of us are buying that this was just completely accidental. Especially with the convenient timing. Much more likely, this is just Apple's prompt response for trying to kill (legal!) modders off ASAP.
  • by HermMunster (972336) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:34AM (#20743087)
    Guys, there is no two year agreement! It is an agreement for life. You own that phone and intend to use it you are stuck with AT&T, period. You think that in two years the phone will unlock itself? NO. So just how are you supposed to use other carriers when the two years are up?

    I think you get the point. If you signed up with AT&T and you took the two year contract then you are obligated to that unless you find a way around it such as paying penalties. If you don't get out from under it you are still paying AT&T for those two years. You just aren't using the minutes, so that's free money to AT&T.

    The point is that you are committed to AT&T for the effective life of the phone, not just two years. That's one of the reasons why there's an exemption to the DMCA. Most of you must realize the iphone will be in use much longer that 2 years.

    What some of you may not understand about the iphone is that you can't use the it even as an ipod until you unlock it and you can only unlock it through AT&T (or some hack). So that means you loose full use of the device, not just the phone capabilities.

    Apple did everything to screw the consumer on this one knowing the DMCA was covering our asses. They looked very seriously at this at judged how they would handle those attempting to protect their rights with the DMCA. It is obviously carefully calculated, since any company worth anything knows that the consumer has the right to unlock their cell phone.

    You have the legal right to issue DMCA cease and decist letters and a legal right to sue, even in a class action, against Apple if they attempt to brick the phone or they don't carefully protect your rights as a consumer by not negligently creating software that they know could potentially brick the phone.

    The way it is set up,that is an AT&T for life phone, not a AT&T for 2 years phone.
  • Re:I think... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:36AM (#20743119)
    "Becoming" evil? Apple is not some shrine of ethics or panacea of consumer/developer friendliness. This is a company that has tried suing bloggers for talking about upcoming Apple products. One of the first companies to employ TPM-style chips on a widespread basis. The company that takes 50 times more than they give -- GUI, OOP, BSD, KHTML, etc. The company that is locking down iPods so that I won't be able to use them with my computer anymore (because, GASP, I don't run an OS that they support with iTunes!).

    If you are surprised by Apple's behavior, you should take a look at some news archives and see what Apple has done in the past. And if you think that they won't try to shut off unlocked iPhones, you REALLY need to review the news archives. In the Apple world, "lock-in" takes on an entirely new meaning.

  • by sacrilicious (316896) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:38AM (#20743141) Homepage
    In other words, swim at your own risk, but don't bitch to us if you get eaten by an alligator; you were told to stay out of the water.

    Right, and the fact that they put the alligators in the water to intentionally eat swimmers doesn't take away their moral high ground one bit.

  • Who's preventing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blueZ3 (744446) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:42AM (#20743205) Homepage
    They didn't prevent anyone from unlocking the phone. They're just not supporting you if you do so.

    Why is this so hard for the /. crowd to understand? Apple specifically says that non-ATT use of the phone is unsupported. People who bought and hacked the phone knew that when they bought it. Apple didn't stop people from doing so, but they're not going to go out of their way to support them. Get over it.

    This is like whining that Microsoft doesn't support people running Window-Blinds or some other hack.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:52AM (#20743391) Journal
    For goodness sake people, you don't buy Apple products because they're cheap or because you want to save money; nay fellow brethren, you buy because Apple products are the coolest, the best user-tested, and yea, because you are blessed enough to afford luxury. It comes at a price.

    That price? Your freedom.
  • by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:52AM (#20743395)
    well you dont "end up" with a broken phone, Apple deliberately vandalises it, therefore it is not immoral to get your money back off them.

    If you bought a car off of ford and they said "if you use it for racing you might break it" then you say whatever and buy it and race it anyway and it's fine, then ford sends out a "representative" to put sand in your gearbox and smash your windscreen, who then turns round and says "well i told you it might break if you raced it", would it be immoral to get your money back from ford?

  • by nuzak (959558) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:56AM (#20743461) Journal
    Why is it that when a company like Microsoft or Oracle does some sort of lock-in or stunt like this, they're "so evil" and it's just such a demonstration of how evil they are, but when Apple does it they're just "doing what a business has to do"?

    It's called "special pleading", and it's been the standard defense of Apple from day 1. Apple is the company that invented the Look and Feel lawsuit. This is the company that sued Microsoft over MS Media player changing file associations ... back to what they were before QuickTime changed them without asking. It just goes on and on, but just like the leather scene here on Folsom st, there's plenty of people willing to be whipped as long as it's done with style.
  • by Sheik Yerbouti (96423) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:57AM (#20743473) Homepage
    Why do I need this update? So it can brick my phone. Hrmm sounds like I don't need it. I thought about this eventuality before I bought and unlocked the phone. It's not really a big deal at all. What functionality does the update provide that would make me want to apply it? None nadda zip. So I won't be. iTunes music store wifi crap could not care less about. I don't buy music from any source that sells DRM music. iTunes want's to force me to update. I will use a third party synch tool or just good old FTP SFTP. I am perfectly happy with the way my unlocked iPhone works right now. And more importantly I get far more value from the new applications the hackers have provided than I do from anything new Apple is talking about. I mean the NES emulator is by far the coolest thing on my iPhone. So in short meh whatever.
  • by nuzak (959558) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @11:00AM (#20743537) Journal
    > You seriously consider unlocking/hacking an iPhone, which you legally bought and own,

    You seriously think you actually own anything anymore, in this society, in this century? Perhaps you own the lump of plastic and silicon. Certainly not its actual ability to function though. Welcome to the modern world.

  • by cyberworm (710231) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [mrowrebyc]> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @11:26AM (#20743951) Homepage
    I see your point and would agree with you if that were an accurate analogy. The thing is, this is less like someone from ford coming out and sabotaging you for racing against their advisement. It's more like them telling you that you shouldn't race the car, you race it anyways, then call them up, tell them you were racing, then take it in voluntarily to have them pull the spark plugs.

    Regardless I still stand by the fact that Apple only promised this phone would work with ATT. At this point though, if you have an iphone and use it with another carrier, you're stuck with the firmware version you've got now (assuming this next patch is verified to actually break unlocked phones).

    So I guess the answer is yes. It would be wrong to take back a product you intentionally voided the warranty on, then bricked your phone during a voluntary update. Especially since the news is out that the next update could potentially break your new phone. I would hope that anyone smart enough to know about phone unlocking and has actually unlocked their phone, would keep up with things enough to see this warning from apple about the potential to brick the phone, and take the appropriate steps to protect their device.

    I guess in my mind the four things that are overlooked in all of this mess, are that 1, nobody forced you to buy an iPhone 2, you were only promised it would work with att 3, you don't have to apply the firmware updates from apple 4, bricking the iphone with this next upgrade is still only speculation.

    I hope that Apple is just taking the middle of the road stance "we don't promise anything in regards to unlocked phones" as a way to cover their asses in regards to their deal with ATT, and isn't actively shutting down unlocking paths as I'd like to unlock my phone when my contract is up.

    Cheers.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @11:30AM (#20743999)
    Whether its a sealed unit according to the law is meaningless in this discussion, Apple is selling it as a sealed unit and therefor will apply updates assuming its a sealed unit - its not up to them to determine if their update will break your nonstandard item.

    I go back to my original post and repeat what I said there: Don't apply updates if you are at all concerned.
  • by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @11:56AM (#20744411)

    Sarcasm aside, that is exactly the same reason why unlockers shouldn't bitch if their iPhones become iBricks. They are using them in a way the manufacturer hadn't intended them to be used.
    That reasoning would render inert almost every product liability lawsuit in history, wouldn't it? The only ones I can think of which would survive your standard would be ones where manufacturers continued peddling their products even though they knew normal use would cause problems (e.g. cigarettes).

    Liability has to extend past the manufacturer's intent, to cover what a purchaser might reasonably be considered to do with a product. Q-tips emblazons on every package that they're not supposed to be put into your ear. But everyone knows that you use them to clean out your ear canal. There's no way their disclaimer would hold up in court. Likewise for the iPhone, if the only reason it doesn't work on other networks is an artificial software lock, then I think it's very reasonable to expect people to try to unlock the phone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @02:13PM (#20746411)
    No. Apple is offering an OPTIONAL software update. If you modified your software then don't install the update. Done. It's your right to unlock the phone, but it's not your right to make Apple support it after you've done so. Once you unlock it the phone becomes your problem.

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