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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 Messed Up Bad
By B on 10/1/2007 6:44:47 PM , Rating: 2
There is a difference between costing Apple $200 per phone, and denying Apple the opportunity to generate an additional $200 of revenue per phone. Unlike most phones where the carrier subsidizes and reduces the purchase price in exchange for the purchaser committing to a two year contract. Here, the buyer is paying the full retail price.

Your logic seems to indicate that if I buy an Ipod and stock it with music from my cd collection, then I have cost Apple $x by not stocking it with music from Itunes. In reality I haven't cost them anything, in fact they made money by selling me the hardware.

Ultimately, I think most people here in this forum are PC and gadget enthusiast that have legitimately grown accustomed to being able to tweak and play with their toys as they see fit. As the many posts indicate, these kinds of restrictions (warranted or not) frustrate me and others, as we don't like being told how to use something we purchased.


RE: Apple Messed Up Bad
By Scott66 on 10/1/2007 9:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
When you get an iphone you sign a contract that you will use only AT&T. By unlocking it, the contract is broken

When I buy a ipod, I did not sign any contract saying I will only get my music from itunes. Apple fully expects me to rip my CD's and other legally owned music. I know this because their manual shows me how to do this.

I am sure nowhere in its manual, there are no instructions on how to unlock the iphone.

Your frustration in being told on how to use your pc and gadgets is understandable but not applicable to the possible bricking of iphones. I can make my computer run windows linux or many other language legally. I cannot change the way windows is compiled or add new features to it. I can fiddle with the hardware, but if I create new BIOS for the motherboard and it causes a problem with their update, ASUS will not fix it for me. Why should we expect Apple to try to make sure any updates they want to introduce not cause problems for my tweaked and flashed iphone?

I can't believe there are individuals expecting Apple to rescue them from their own stupidity and greed.


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