New Firmware Might Turn Your Unlocked iPhone into a Brick

I know I write an awful lot about Apple and how much I dislike them, but they’re really started to turn into a company that they never were before and it does bother me.  I really want to like Apple.  I think they do make some nice products, but the company itself prevents me from really liking them and dropping the money on their products (yes I do run Windows, but I also have to support Windows, it’s easier this way… and I didn’t pay for it as I get a copy from my job).

Anyway, various reports have come in saying that Apple has said that the new firmware might permanently disable any unlocked iPhones because the unlock “hack” broke something.  There are several different unlocking hacks, one of which is a hardware hack.  The hardware hack does have the potential to damage the phone, but purely software hacks are reversible and do not cause this problem.  Apple decided that they would void the warranty on any phones that have this problem because they were unlocked.  Unfortunately for Apple, a decades old law makes it illegal for them to void the warranty unless the third party application (in this case the unlocking hack) damaged the phone or the phone’s native software.

My opinion (and for those that know me, I am very opinionated) is that Apple should embrace the unlocking and third parties as it increases the value of the iPhone.  Believe it or not, not everyone who might buy one wants to use it only on AT&T’s network or use only Apple-approved applications on it.  I am also of the opinion that wireless carriers should not be crippling cell phones and should be allowing all uses of them.  Most cell phones today have Bluetooth, but they “don’t support” the full capabilities (such as file transfer).  This is because the wireless carriers are afraid of losing the income from the sale of overpriced ringtones to people creating their own on their own computers and transferring them to their cell phones.  Lucky for me, both Susan and I have the same cell phones (the LG VX8550 Chocolate, the new Chocolate, I love it by the way) and she bought the music pack that came with a USB cable.  I was able to make my own ringtones editing an mp3 I had with Audacity (an open source audio editor) and send it to my phone using Bitpim (an open source information manager for phones).  However, I do still wish I had the capability to send files to my phone via Bluetooth (since my laptop has Bluetooth).

So the moral of the story is that cell phone carriers suck because they cripple phones (something I think should be outlawed, but won’t) and that Apple sucks because of their premature threats of voiding warranties.  The question I have is with whom the burden of proof falls that the third party software (in this case the unlocking hack) damaged the phone and caused it to turn into a brick.

Upcoming Firmware Will Brick Unlocked iPhones (Slashdot)

The Optimist/Pessimist: Apple’s iPhone Unlock Warning (Boing Boing Gadgets)

Apple May Be Breaking the Law With Policy on iPhone Unlocks (Slashdot)

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