Print 75 comment(s) - last by Wightout.. on Oct 2 at 4:55 PM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Legality - Apple will lose
By boogle on 10/1/2007 11:12:33 AM , Rating: 2
This is highly irrelevant. Apple can never include language in violation of standard consumer protection laws.

I'm glad you brought that up, too many companies try to get around 'irritating' laws by putting such phrasing into their 'contracts'. A common one is the 'sale items only come with a 30 day warranty'.

It's not worth the paper it's written on, it's really not. It's the same as writing 'by entering this home you agree that you may be murdered and cannot sue and/or prosecute'. If it was as simple as writing some text on a piece of paper, you could get away with anything.

You cannot avoid laws by signing certain agreements, as Apple may find out their detriment if they do end up with a class-action lawsuit. An agreement can only be created within the existing laws of the country it comes under.

Here's an interesting one for UK citizens: The law covers you for up to 6 years - not 1. The phrasing of the law is that if the item is faulty (ie. you have a bricked iPhone) then you can expect compensation as long as you can reasonably expect the item to last. So for a perishable like fruit, that will only be a couple of days. But for electronics you can feasably go all the way up to 6 years - although you can't expect a full refund due to use you've already had.

In the case of the iPhone, I'm sure that if it's just 3rd party apps you can consider the item inheriantly faulty since using provided tools and manufacturer updates killed it - then it's faulty. As for flashing the firmware - I don't know, but most retailers will take it back simply because they don't want the hassle / complaint if you badger them enough.

RE: Legality - Apple will lose
By boogle on 10/1/2007 11:25:19 AM , Rating: 2
Would just like to add one little extra bit of clarification: I'm referring to the iPhone itself.

Since AT&T offer a service they can cut off anyone any time they like, for any reason - assuming it's in their contract. Of course the contract still has to be within the law, but afaik as long as the terms aren't unrealistic they can do what they like.

Apple still can't though - they can't 'break' your handset if you paid for it in full. If it's still on contract then technically you don't own the phone and they can do what they want.

This is where it gets muddy.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007
Related Articles
Apple Strikes Back With Update
September 28, 2007, 1:22 PM

Latest Headlines
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
The Samsung Galaxy S7
September 14, 2016, 6:00 AM
Apple Watch 2 – Coming September 7th
September 3, 2016, 6:30 AM
Apple says “See you on the 7th.”
September 1, 2016, 6:30 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki