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.

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By sprockkets on 10/1/2007 12:32:05 PM , Rating: 3
You agreed to a 2 year contract.
You agreed to their TOS.
You then tried to break their lock - accept the consequences since you know that the people who made the unlock software will not be stupid enough to pay for bricked iphones.

You know what happens when you take a Linksys WRT54G and put on dd-wrt or any other firmware? You void the warranty. Why? Linksys doesn't pay for that firmware, cannot guarantee it, and therefore will not be responsible if it is poorly written, and since dd-wrt allows for CPU overclocking and radio signal increases which wear out the hardware quicker they certainly will not back that up, or if it doesn't flash right and brick it.

It isn't Apple's job to test all third party firmware and programs to see if their firmware update is not compatible with it; they can only guarantee what they sell. That is apple's way of business, and is nothing new or out of the ordinary compared to how their computers and OSX are setup to only run on their hardware. Don't expect to call Apple and say OSX isn't running right when you are running it on non Apple hardware, even if it is an Intel system.

You took a risk. You lost. The conclusion of the matter is you are a Dee Dee Dee for buying a $500 phone and 2 year contract with no 3G.

RE: look
By xti on 10/1/2007 1:39:08 PM , Rating: 2
you can buy the phone at the stores in the mall with no contract.

RE: look
By clovell on 10/1/2007 2:35:27 PM , Rating: 3
The law allows people to unlock their phones. Unlocking them did not break them. The update Apple recently released is what broke them, and from the sound of it - that was intentional.

Law doesn't explicitly allow you to alter your router's firmware and we're not talking about anything that increases the wear placed on the phone.

RE: look
By Hexxx on 10/2/2007 7:34:29 AM , Rating: 2
Hypothetically, firmware can cause physical hardware damage or accelerated wear and tear. It would be up to the consumers to prove that their were malicious intentions on Apple's part. Unlocking other brands of phones often involves re-flashing using manufacturer developed firmware, not third party. In this case I believe Apple did engineer the firmware to cause problems to unlocked phones, however I'm sure they've covered their tracks pretty well.

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