Tuesday, October 2, 2007

iBrick fiasco

Still badly behind on grading, but wanted to quote a few quick articles.

The successful efforts to unlock the iPhone (by George Hotz and others) did not go over well with those that did the locking.

On Sept. 27, Apple released its innocuously-named iPhone 1.1.1 update. I don’t have an iPhone, but as I understand it, iTunes (on the Mac or PC) reports the availability of the update and recommends that users install it. It was nominally a security update with some small feature enhancements, but it also broke all the hacks that allowed the iPhone to work on networks other than AT&T.

I’m of two minds here. That Apple would respond should not be surprising, so it seems silly that people are shocked! SHOCKED! that Apple would try to disable these hacks. (Some are already trying to reverse the update, while others will eventually find ways to unlock the updated phones). It’s also unclear whether Apple is passionate about locking people in (not implausible) or if they have a contractual obligation to Cingular (now AT&T) to use all possible technical means to enforce such locking.

On the other hand, this is terrible PR for a company and a product that has enjoyed a charmed existence this year, earning the nickname “JesusPhone.” This includes:

Apple has been here before — they’ve overreached in their efforts to exploit their lock-in of loyal customers. Will they pull back from the brink? Can they? Or will they become even more aggressive (and even more Microsoft-like) in pushing around their customers?

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