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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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RE: Apple bapple crapple
By tjr508 on 10/1/2007 10:47:58 AM , Rating: 2
Did you just suggest that market share is more important than profit for a business?

I happen to really like phone locking. Locking adds value to the provider. In every other case except for the iPhone, a good portion of that value is passed on to the consumer. There is still a large unlocked market for the wary.

RE: Apple bapple crapple
By Misty Dingos on 10/1/2007 12:38:08 PM , Rating: 2
How does locking add anything to the consumer except less choice?

Here are the some of the ‘advantages’ I see to locked cell phones. Long exclusive contracts laden with penalties, poor customer service, zero portability, expensive basic services, premium services are exorbitantly priced, and deceptive sales tactics. Just prying the numbers from the provider’s hands took an act of congress.

And considering the way Apple treats market share in relationship to the iPod series of mp3 players you would think that market share was all they were ever concerned with.

RE: Apple bapple crapple
By Scott66 on 10/1/2007 3:27:13 PM , Rating: 2
An unlocked phone costs 200-300 dollars more than the same phoned locked to a cellular service provider.

So the value in a locked phone is cheaper price.

RE: Apple bapple crapple
By rdeegvainl on 10/2/2007 10:07:19 AM , Rating: 2
wrong! I got my unlocked cell phone for free!!!! i had to sign a contract saying i would pay more if i wanted to end to contract early, but the phone is unlocked and if i wanted to put another sim in it, it would still work.
It cost about 200 dollars retail. Getting a phone cheaper by entering into a contract is not the same as locking a phone.

RE: Apple bapple crapple
By tjr508 on 10/2/2007 11:18:34 AM , Rating: 2
Sort of. The contract does add the majority of the value that is then passed, but the locking of the phone also adds even more of a savings. I believe recent analysis has shown something like $50 (as opposed to ~$300 for an average contract) If I end up with even an average extra savings of $20, then I am happy.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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