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Apple's latest iPhone moves may have earned it a new class-action law suit--Apple's answer: purchase a new iPhone.

As reported on DailyTech, Apple Inc. disabled unlocked iPhones with its Firmware 1.1.1 update by putting them into activation limbo.  The unlocked phones could not make any calls until activated with a valid AT&T card and iTunes.  Even then, the phones would sometimes still be locked, according to preliminary reports.  Apple covered its bases, by providing a "slide for emergency" option which allows users to make 911 calls on their newly-bricked iPhone.

While many users simply are not going to install the update or are hoping for a cracked version of the patch to be released, some are seeking legal avenues to fight Apple's strike on the modding/hacking/homebrew community.

On Saturday, posts by user myndex appeared in Apple's iPhone Forums, proposing three groupings of users who could seek legal action and calling for users whose iPhones were rendered inoperable to contact the poster with answers to a list of questions detailing their iPhone situation.

The posts were taken down relatively quickly, but screenshots were posted here [1][2].  Additionally, a quick search reveals that Myndex is a tech and research group that appears to use Macintosh computers.  Whether the owner of the Apple forums handle is associated with this group is unknown.

Apple has protected itself by including a large amount of legal phrasing in its packaging, instruction manuals, and online materials, warning users against unlocking their iPhones, which they say violates their contract.

Noah Funderburg, an assistant dean at the University of Alabama School of Law, was quoted as saying. "Anyone who hacks must know that they are taking certain risks," Funderburg told the paper. "If they aren’t willing to assume the risks upfront--like a brick iPhone--then maybe they should not hack the device."

Jennifer Bowcock, an Apple spokeswoman indicated that Apple was unapologetic about the situation. "The inability to use your phone after making unauthorized modifications isn’t covered under the iPhone warranty. If the damage was due to use of an unauthorized software application, voiding their warranty, they should purchase a new iPhone,” said Bowcock

In some cases Apple appears to have not only killed unlockers, but those who simply were participating in the homebrew/3rd-party applications community.  Ross Good, a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had not expected to be affected as he had only installed a couple of seemingly harmless third party applications, including one for instant messaging.  After updating, he found his phone returned to the activation screen and would not activate, though he had a valid AT&T contract.  His phone is now among the growing number of phones "bricked" by the update.

No word was received from Apple on what its stance was on the damage done by its updates to non-unlocked users.

Apple is likely to face increased scrutinity, as well as possible legal assaults following its attack on unlockers.  It appears that many, including even non-unlockers were affected by the update.  Apple's is entirely unapologetic to those affected.  Their answer--get a new iPhone.

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Should have known better
By mdogs444 on 10/1/2007 9:44:10 AM , Rating: 1
Im not for the way that Apple treating their actual customers who had AT&T contracts and 3rd party software.

As for the "hackers" who intentionally modified the product while knowing the possible consequences - well, you knew the possibiliy this would happen, and thats too bad for you.

You know the old saying "if its too good to be true, then it probably is". Fits perfectly for those who bought just a phone with the idea to use it outside of the agreement.

Oh well. Another reason I will never own an apple product, but im not going to defend the people who intentionally used it the way they were not supposed to.

RE: Should have known better
By dagamer34 on 10/1/2007 10:49:34 AM , Rating: 1
The real problem is that Apple states that their update might cause "unforeseen problems" wen they sure as hell know it will break any unlocked phones. This is seen by the fact that when you downgrade from 1.1.1 to 1.0.2, the phone is just about perfect (sans-activation), meaning everything wrong is purely software, and not hardware, and definitely NOT a good reason for voiding a warranty.

We come to expect companies to void warranties because of hardware tinkering, but software? That's like CompUSA giving you the cold shoulder because you installed Linux. We don't need to put up with this crap.

I argue against this because it's just a slippery-slope that will deteriorate intro true vendor lock-in where decent products are shackled by shitty programs and exorbant fees.

RE: Should have known better
By clovell on 10/1/2007 11:55:51 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure you can really say that people knew they were risking their phone - some functionality? sure. support? yeah. warranty? no doubt. service? maybe.

Any functionality of of the phone besides 911? Whoa, now.

To my mind, that's pushing the limits; the courts will decide if they went too far, though.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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