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Class-Action Lawsuit Over iPhone Locking?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the brick-my-device-at-your-peril dept.

Communications 533

An anonymous reader writes "InfoWeek blogger Alex Wolfe reports that some iPhone users are mad as heck at Apple for bricking up their device in response to non-Apple-authorized software downloads. In a discussion thread on Apple's own iPhone forum, one user posts that he's 'Seeking respondents for possible class action lawsuit against Apple Inc. relating to refusal to service iPhones and related accessories under warranty.' Some who have replied to the post agree that Apple is being unbelievably arrogant and is ripe for legal action. But others say Cupertino is well within its rights to control its own device." Apple seems to have removed the cited post, but it is reproduced as screenshots in the article.

Update: 10/02 02:42 GMT by KD : Reader Cleverboy wrote in to note that the screenshots present in the article are of a posting on Macosrumors, not Apple's forum, and to question the conclusion that Apple removed any posting. The article has been updated since this story went live to make clear that the original posting by user "myndex" was on the Apple forum and was (apparently) removed by Apple; and that the screenshot is of a mirror post myndex made to Macosrumors.

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533 comments

Official Steve Jobs Response (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805071)

can be found here [blogspot.com] ;-)

Re:Official Steve Jobs Response (2, Funny)

benburned (1091769) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805307)

Steve Jobs- About Me "I love beautiful objects. I love creating them. Negative people upset me." lol

Re:Official Steve Jobs Response (3, Funny)

exploder (196936) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805427)

Steve Jobs: "Oh, shit, someone on a discussion forum is threatening a lawsuit? I give up!"

Re:Official Steve Jobs Response (2)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805533)

The class action law suite should be thrown out, every Apple customer know that this is what Apple does. Apple is no better than MS, in fact, in many areas they are worse then MS.

Bad move apple (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805075)

The problem here isn't just that you're pissing off people by bricking their phones. The problem is you are locking down a device that would otherwise be a killer development platform.

Remember how you lost the OS war to Microsoft? Its because Windows had more apps, and it didn't matter that it sucked.

The iPhone's is a fine phone, but its UI and hardware are well suited for all kinds of other apps that will drive sales way beyond just the smart phone market: games, vertical business apps, voip, home controller, etc. It's not just an mp3 player. If you need to rework the AT&T deal just do it, because the platform play is a much bigger opportunity.

Please just open it up already.

Sincerely,
    Apple shareholder

Re:Bad move apple (2, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805167)

Totally agreed. I would have bought an iPhone if I could make applications for it/use it on any network without fear of voiding the warranty or Apple bricking it. Apple has always been a company that goes in cycles, they come up with a great product (the apple 2) then make bad decisions (Apple 3 and Lisa) then make a good one (Mac) then go back to bad ones (firing Jobs) then a good one (acquiring NEXTSTEP and making OSX) But now they are back to a series of bad decisions and its going to hurt Apple. If I buy an iPhone Apple has already made its money. If I program a new program for it, Apple has still made its money and it should still be under warranty. If I take the hard disk out of it and hit it with a hammer, it shouldn't be under warranty. Apple and the rest of the phone companies need to stop making them closed platforms and open them to be the embedded computers they are. Oh well, Apple just lost $600 from that and thats just me.

Not bricking unless you choose to install (5, Insightful)

davetd02 (212006) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805201)

It seems the problem is easy. It's legal to unlock a phone. But once you've modified the phone to do that, it becomes your problem. Don't install the new firmware. There are plenty of owners that stayed with 1.0.2 and had no problem. Apple doesn't secretly go around bricking phones -- they offer a new software update that's compatible with their operating system, not whatever modifications users made to it.

If I completely wiped the OS and then tried to install the firmware upgrade I'd be shocked if it _didn't_ brick. Once I've made the software my own, it becomes my problem to support it. The easiest way would be to just not install new firmware upgrades (or at least wait until there are new unlocks available).

It'd be nice if they had a "bring in your brick" program whereby they re-flashed phones that had been bricked, but I'm not convinced it's a legal requirement.

Re:Not bricking unless you choose to install (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805319)

It's legal to unlock a phone. But once you've modified the phone to do that, it becomes your problem. Don't install the new firmware.
I'm pretty much in agreement. Except for one unanswered question - is the bricking intentional or really and truly a side-effect? If it is intentional, then I'd says Apple is due a class action lawsuit. However, proving it may be very difficult.

Re:Not bricking unless you choose to install (4, Informative)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805505)

steve jobs has gone on record calling it a "cat and mouse game" if that doesn't dispel reasonable doubt about intent, i don't know what does

Re:Not bricking unless you choose to install (2, Interesting)

snarkh (118018) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805485)

Once I've made the software my own, it becomes my problem to support it.

To apply this logic to a PC, if you install Doom on your machine, the warranty is voided.

Re:Bad move apple (1)

sogoodsofarsowhat (662830) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805271)

Hello people...the phones do not brick if you do not accept the update...which it ASKS to install. WTF is wrong with you people.... The device is not locked by Apple without YOUR CONSENT. So dont update the firmware. Its not like APPLE didnt WARN the world that the new update would most likely brick your phone. Oh and before you idiots start jumping up and down...they hackers have already figured out how to unbrick it and how to make it work. Stupid knee jerk idiots here. Oh and sue apple good luck with that.

Re:Bad move apple (3, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805347)

I am sure, though, if this was Microsoft, you'd be lambasting them for it. Yet, it's OK because it's Apple. Apple is hip and cool, so whatever they do is justified.

If I post a sign on the wall that says "A means a punch in the face, B means free dinner" and ask you "A or B", I would still be in the wrong for punching you in the face for saying A. Just because someone can give you ice to put on that black eye doesn't make it any less wrong.

Re:Bad move apple (1)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805285)

This may be the first intelligent response to this issue I've seen.

Your gripe is that Apple made a bad business decision by not opening up the platform. That is valid. What I am tired of seeing is people complaining that Apple won't support their unauthorized hard- software hacks. There is no legal basis that these customers might rely on to compel Apple not to produce firmware updates that will not work with these hacks.

Re:Bad move apple (2, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805303)

The iPhone's is a fine phone, but its UI and hardware are well suited for all kinds of other apps that will drive sales way beyond just the smart phone market: games, vertical business apps, voip, home controller, etc. It's not just an mp3 player. If you need to rework the AT&T deal just do it, because the platform play is a much bigger opportunity.

And there is the exact issue for Apple. Clearly they want a cut of the profit from anything designed to run on iPhone, i.e. Apple approved third party apps. They obviously think they can make more from licensing third part apps than from additional phone sales as an open generic platform. I think this is pretty much in line with what I would expect from Apple given past history.

Now then, how about fuck the iPhone. What happened to that iPhone clone that came out right after the official iPhone launch? I seem to remember a story about it here. Looked like it had the groovy iPhone look and feel with much more open software / hardware access?

Re:Bad move apple (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805317)

To be fair, when I bought my Mustang, Ford forced me to only play the CDs and MP3s that they want me to listen to in my audio system, said I could only drive on their pre-approved list of highways, interstates and streets, said I could only buy gas at certain approved gas stations, welded my battery into the chassis frame and forbid me from using third-party shifter knobs, kits or non-approved cleaning products. Then, when I took my car into the Ford service center for it's regular check, they took the keys away from me and locked the car down in their facilities, because they discovered that I had been taking it to a non Ford-approved detailer.

Oh, wait . . .

Re:Bad move apple (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805413)

When I bought my Mustang Ford told me not to modify the emissions chip or refuel with leaded gasoline. I put an new chip in and bought leaded gas in Mexico. When I brought back the car with a catalytic converter that functioned as well as a brick they told me they wouldn't support it.

They also told me that I couldn't enter the car in street races if I wanted warranty service. After I burned my nos system they wouldn't support it.

In other words, you can do whatever you want with your Mustang or your iPhone. But you can't expect them to support it.

Re:Bad move apple (1)

wkitchen (581276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805423)

Remember how you lost the OS war to Microsoft? Its because Windows had more apps, and it didn't matter that it sucked.
Windows? The war was already over when Windows came along. Apple lost the OS war to DOS.

Re:Bad move apple (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805497)

The problem here isn't just that you're pissing off people by bricking their phones. The problem is you are locking down a device that would otherwise be a killer
development platform.

If what you wanted is an open development platform, why did you go with Apple, especially when they made their intentions quite explicit?

It's not like there's lack of choice in the area. If you want complete openness, there's OpenMoko. If that's too hardcore, there's plenty other hardware that'll run whatever you like on it.

Re:Bad move apple (another anon shareholder) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805535)

Amen. Open the iPhone so that I can buy one too.

I don't particularly want the phone part but I'd use it - I want the hardware, UI and some developer tools.

Sincerely,
        Anon Apple Shareholder

Apple's device? (5, Insightful)

codemachine (245871) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805083)

But others say Cupertino is well within its rights to control its own device.


Wouldn't the phone belong to the person who bought it, not Apple?

It'll be interesting to see what happens here, since it isn't uncommon for companies to refuse warranty for "unauthorized" use.

Re:Apple's device? (1)

Roachgod (589171) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805109)

What will happen here is that someone will build something similar to the iphone, but open it up for development. A decent marketing and PR campaign would seal the deal. Oh wait hasn't this already happened in asia?

QTopia Greenphone (5, Interesting)

OmniGeek (72743) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805197)

Anyone seen the cover of Linux Journal? Trolltech has released the QTopia Greenphone, an Open Source GSM/EDGE smartphone that costs about $695 WITH a GPL'ed software development kit. (http://trolltech.com/products/qtopia/greenphone/index) While it perhaps isn't as sexy as the iPhone in terms of UI, it IS an open device, costs about the same as the iPhone, is guaranteed never to be bricked by the manufacturer, and encourages user development and contributions to its features. And it runs Linux. If THAT isn't a better deal than an iPhone, I dunno what is.

Re:QTopia Greenphone (2, Funny)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805455)

Once again, the open source movement leads the way in product innovation.

(I'll get modded as troll for this, of course).

GPL2 or GPL3? (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805503)

It just occurred to me, not that they would do this since Qtopia has been good about not TIVOing stuff, but if it was under the GPLv2 (instead of v3) couldn't they lock down the phone with anti DRM software? In Which case legally under the DMCA it would be illegal for anybody load any modified code on to the phone?

Re:Apple's device? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805137)

Herein lies the crux. I believe Apple is well within their bounds to refuse warranty on modded iPhones, however they should not be deliberately breaking them. Insert stupid analogy here.

Unfortunatly, I'm not familiar enough with the relevant U.S. Code or the iPhone warranty to make any judgment on how far their reach goes. I'd imagine this would be an interesting read.

Re:Apple's device? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805161)

This isn't really about refusing warranty, that seems valid. It's about Apple intentionally making it so modified phones break completely. What if Microsoft did this with the XBox360? Yes, they have blacklisted 360's on the Live network, but they haven't bricked the hacked 360's...

Re:Apple's device? (2, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805475)

What if Microsoft did this with the XBox360? Yes, they have blacklisted 360's on the Live network, but they haven't bricked the hacked 360's...
That's not necessary, the 360s get bricked all by themselves.

Re:Apple's device? (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805175)

"Unauthorized use" might be things like taking your sports care racing on dirt roads. This isn't unauthorized use. This is apple willfully inducing flaws into their machine so that it breaks. People have already installed this software, and now apple is making these -- perfectly functional machines 'spuriously' break. That's not my fault. It's Apples, and they're bound to fix it.

Re:Apple's device? (1)

davetd02 (212006) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805315)

At least one of the earlier unlocks required re-soldering [wired.com] inside the phone. That's not like taking your sports car racing on dirt roads, that's like adding a NOS system and asking for warranty support when the engine overheats.

I agree the argument doesn't apply to the software unlocks, but the hardware ones meet your analogy.

"Unauthorized use" might be things like taking your sports care racing on dirt roads.

Slashdot hivemind re: Apple (3, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805183)

> Wouldn't the phone belong to the person who bought it, not Apple?

If it were any other vendor Slashdot would be in 100% agreement that Apple doesn't 'own' the product once it is bought, in fact they would be venting almost as much fury at /. for posting such drivel since the way it is posted isn't attacking such a notion as stupid. But since it IS Apple we are talking about and so many here live fully inside the Reality Distortion Field you get Slashdot editors leaving otherwise insane sentences like that one in a post. And no, this isn't just a pile on kdawson rant, CmdrTaco is equally within the Field.

Listen up you primitive screwheads, Steve Jobs is AS evil, if not moreso than Steve Balmer. He just doesn't throw chairs or dance around like a drunken monkey.

Re:Slashdot hivemind re: Apple (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805247)

I'm betting few people take you as seriously as you'd like. Perhaps you should avoid using phrases like "Listen up you primitive screwheads" when you're leading into a point you want people to accept.

Explaining jokes.... (2, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805311)

I guess we have a slashdot user who has not watched Army of Darkness enough times. Sad. :)

But seriously, just watch how His Steveness reacts to a little market dominance. Macs are a footnote in the PC world so being overtly Evil would just be suicide, thus Macs aren't infused with much Evil. But look at the iPod and now iPhone game, where Apple feels itself to be dominant. All of teh new iPods are infested with DRM from the bootloader on, no RockBox or iPod Linux on any of the newer hardware. The iPhone came out of the chute with a locked firmware, just buggy. So in response they are bricking em.

Re:Explaining jokes.... (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805395)

I guess we have a slashdot user who has not watched Army of Darkness enough times. Sad. :)

Or at all. I had to go to IMDB.com to find out about that film. Not my cup of tea, really. Oh well.

Re:Slashdot hivemind re: Apple (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805383)

The way I see it--you're free to do whatever you want with the hardware you bought. Unlock the iphone, perfectly fine.

That doesn't mean Apple has to go out of their way to support any modified hardware/software combinations that exist out there. Their software update is completely optional, nobody has to install it. Anyone that makes the CHOICE to mod their iphone and makes the CHOICE to install apple's update (knowing that it will probably brick) does not elicit much sympathy for me.

I don't think that has anything to do with anyone being "evil" (I have to say, if you think Balmer or Jobs is evil, it's possible your definition of evil could use some updating..) or a the RDF.

I installed the "hackintosh" osx86 distro on a generic PC of mine. It worked pretty well. I installed the 10.4.8 update, and it no longer booted. Not quite analogous, but a similar situation..

Re:Slashdot hivemind re: Apple (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805521)

If it were any other vendor Slashdot would be in 100% agreement that Apple doesn't 'own' the product once it is bought, in fact they would be venting almost as much fury at /. for posting such drivel since the way it is posted isn't attacking such a notion as stupid. But since it IS Apple we are talking about and so many here live fully inside the Reality Distortion Field you get Slashdot editors leaving otherwise insane sentences like that one in a post. And no, this isn't just a pile on kdawson rant, CmdrTaco is equally within the Field.

You're missing the point of the question about the iPhone.

Of course you own the phone, you're not leasing it after all.

What Apple says is that if you want a firmware upgrade, you can't hack it for third-party apps. As several have pointed out, if you don't get the firmware upgrade, unlocking your iPhone for third-party apps still works just fine.

It's a smelly policy on Apple's part, they may end up missing the party. But do they have the "right" to do things this way? I think so...

So really, the only thing going on here is that if you hack your iPhone, don't expect firmware upgrades from Apple...

Collateral Damage Reported. Is your phone working? (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805241)

It'll be interesting to see what happens here, since it isn't uncommon for companies to refuse warranty for "unauthorized" use.

How about warranty for stuff Apple broke trying to lock down other people's iPhones [slashdot.org]? iPhone is a beautiful device, crippled by non free software and ATT. One is bad enough but the combination is unworkable and unbearable.

Re:Apple's device? (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805369)

Bill Gates has done a LOT to screw up the world of hardware and software.

Before Gates, software was not a "product." It was something that helped to make hardware useful. People created it, shared it, ported it and everything that OSS is attempting to recapture. The "product" was the hardware. And sure, hardware makers paid software writers to make stuff for their hardware, but the idea of selling the software to the USER as a product I blame on Bill Gates and the problems that come from that continue on and on and on. Worse is that buyers never "own" the software they think they are buying. They are only getting a 'license' to use it... a license with terms like "if it doesn't work, you can't have your money back and we don't *have* to support it if we don't want to" and "you can't take it apart to see how it works and you damned sure can't modify it and give it to other people!"

The "device" that is the iPhone, is a combination of hardware and software. I'll bet that even though you think you "own" your iPhone, you don't. You own the hardware and if some genius finds a way to unbrick one and installs all new, non-apple, software to make it useful and makes it FREE, then you can claim to own your iPhone. But since the software component is a license to use and not a collection of bits and bytes wholly owned by the owner of the iPhone hardware, effectively, you don't own the iPhone.

Now whether or not a court will over-rule this particular situation is another matter, but as it stands anything with software running on it that's not OSS runs the risk of the licensor insisting on some pretty unreasonable and limiting terms. And the worst part about it all? People [consumers] *still* can't wrap their minds around the idea that they don't own what they paid for.

Re:Apple's device? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805501)

Apple's not the only one trying this crap. I bought two Seagate drives, both were duds out of the box, and Seagate won't replace them with new drives [slashdot.org]. Remanufactured only, plus, to add insult to injury, they want ME to pay the shipping. Their excuse "they're as good as new drives" is ironic in this case ...

Re:Apple's device? (3, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805507)

Here's a nickel, kid. Buy yourself a real history book. Software was a "product" long before Bill Gates started hawking his wares. They just weren't marketing it to Joe Consumer.

Re:Apple's device? (1)

DaScribbler (701492) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805371)

"Wouldn't the phone belong to the person who bought it, not Apple?"

Sure... the hardware does belong to the person who purchased it. And said purchaser can do whatever they want with it. However, the purchaser is not within their rights to expect it to do be supported by apple or their cellular provider if they make changes to the firmware/software. If you expect your hardware to operate different from the software provided by the manufacturer... well then you should expect to be able to write your own software to make it work.

Yes you own the hardware, but deviate from your service agreement and you're outa luck unless you can fix it yourself.

The same applies to everybody screaming about iPods not working with *nix platforms anymore. In what world do people live in that they believe there is some ultimate law that says everything needs to be compatible with *nix systems?

Do whatever you wish with your proudly owned hardware. Just don't forget that ultimately it is up to you to maintain it's functionality if you choose to forfeit the seller's support.

Users (4, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805107)

It is true that Apple are in their right to release the device under the license they want. The problem is in the user. How in hell do you want to buy a device with is locked to a single carrier, and more, whith a solded battery (we are talking about a PHONE here!), and wich is imo (and in other's opinions) overpriced, and not even the "best" in their class? Just because it has a rotten apple drawn in it's surface? Well, the buyers **are** the stupid part here. Hell, I don't even own an Ipod because it's not good enough for me. Having the Apple in the white shining surface may make you cool in the eyes of the teenagers, but doesn't mean a thing for me.

Re:Users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805223)

Not exactly. The phone is a hard good, and you pay for the item. It's a contract of purchase, not a lease or license. The phone belongs to you, not Apple or AT&T at that point. There are some pretty hard legal restrictions as to what you can do as a seller to limit that use. Regardless of "unauthorized use" if it was pretty anticipated that this would be a regular use, then it's a defective product, and warrantee will probably apply, regardless of the piss-poor legalese used.

Add in that it was rendered "Defective" by deliberate subsequent action by the manufacturer...

I think AT&T has more recourse through licensing than Apple does.

But IANAL. And I'm Canadian, we use different laws.

Re:Users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805387)

So you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, but you had to say it anyway. God bless, but you nerds are arrogant little shits.

Re:Users (1)

pravuil (975319) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805305)

I got an iPod but that's about it.

IMHO I thought in order to hack an iphone all you had to do is swap sim cards. Albeit it is hard to access the sim card, I think it's funny that something that's done in other phones by other carriers is considered hacking on this phone. Apple using one phone carrier is their choice. I don't know why. It's their policy but it's monopolistic and anti-competitive. I guess it's one way to keep the price of their phone so high.

About people liking their products, I can't blame them. They make nice eye candy and their products perform the way they should. There are similar products out there but right now they are the top dog when it comes to digital media. One, five, ten years from now that will all change just the way it always does.

Re:Users (1, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805329)

I know you're trolling here, but I'm going to bite anyway.

The REAL problem here is AT&T, plain and simple.

Everybody whining about the iPhone being locked to them as the only carrier (and Apple's subsequent attempts to enforce this) were pretty much requirements for Apple to successfully launch this phone in the first place. If they had an unlimited budget, I'm sure Apple would have just started their own cellular carrier or bought one out, and then built a phone to work with it with all the features people would ever want. BUT, in the real world, breaking into the "good old boy" network of Cellular carriers and phone manufacturers meant playing by THEIR rules, *or* finding a few places they could win concessions in return for clamping down in other areas.

This is no different than Apple's reluctant agreement to enforce DRM on purchased songs from iTunes. They weren't in a position to start their own record label and sign on thousands of good artists - so they had to work with the record labels. By accepting DRM and some restrictions on usage of their software (no sharing your music to stream over a WAN to iTunes running at a remote location, for example), they were able to bring digital music sales into the 21st. Century.

With their agreement with AT&T, they were able to bring people a new, easier way to activate the phone. (No going into the store and filling out credit app paperwork, getting upsold on crap by salespeople, etc. etc.) They got AT&T to code custom stuff into their network for the "visual voicemail" feature that no other phone currently has. They even got AT&T to agree to a discounted "all you care to use for one price" data plan, so you wouldn't be screwed like Verizon owners of a Motorola Q ... who have to pay $150+ per month for any half-way usable cell plan that gives them unlimited data for it.

I didn't think the iPhone was worth $599 when it came out, so I held off on getting it. But I sure did pick up one as soon as the price dropped, and a refurb 8GB was going for $349. At that price, it's definitely worth the money.... I've paid that much or more for every "Smartphone" I've owned before, including a Treo 650 and 600. and a couple Kyoceras - and NONE of those held a candle to the iPhone. In fact, I got so disgusted with them, I got a Motorola Razr and just lived with it for the last year. But even it had issues - including the inability to sync its calendar appointments with iCal on my Mac.

Although nobody's talking on this one, I also think AT&T is behind Apple's sudden negative attitude on hackers developing custom apps for the iPhone. Why? Because it was all good until someone at AT&T realized "Hey, wait a minute! If Apple doesn't put a damper on this, they're going to install a voice-over IP app on that thing, and then nobody will ever use up their minutes anymore talking on the iPhone! We'll never sell anything bigger than the smallest plan!" (Seems kind of odd Apple's V.P. just came out and said Apple wasn't against people loading unofficial apps on the iPhone, and they wouldn't "actively try to stop it" ... only to have Jobs come out about 48 hours later saying something different?)

Bottom line here: This may be an Apple product, but it has to function in a space controlled by the cellphone industry. This is the same industry that flashes custom firmware into almost all the really useful phones they sell, to cripple features left and right to suit them. Given the hostile environment - I think Apple did a pretty good job bringing people a compromise that's still worthy of an Apple logo on the front of it.

I was never interested in "unlocking" my phone to get around the agreement they made very clear was part of the purchase .... BUT, I do use my phone with all the unofficial software apps people made for it. And I refuse to update to the latest firmware unless/until hackers break into it successfully like they have all the previous versions.

Re:Users (1)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805355)

The problem with Apple bricking iPhones is that there is an explicitly-defined right -- 37 CFR Part 201 [copyright.gov], Exemption to Prohibition on
Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies"
states that one of the exempted classes of copyrighted works is "Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network." As has been brought up in previous comments about the unlocking of iPhones, the law explicitly permits individual owners to circumvent the lock-in to AT&T in order to enable them to use it with another cellphone service, but does not establish an explicit right for individuals to produce and market the process to do so. And therein lies the distinction; owners of bricked iPhones, in my opinion (IANAL), have a case against Apple for taking punitive action against them for exercising their rights as set forth in 37 CFR 201; Apple will have to settle for acting against the people who are selling or otherwise distributing the 'crack'.

Re:Users (2, Insightful)

voidptr (609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805487)

All the exemption does is say Apple can't take you to court on a DMCA violation if you mod your phone.

It doesn't say they can't make it as difficult as they want on you to mod it in the first place.

Re:Users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805363)

Hardware is sold, never licensed.

Steve brought this on himself... (5, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805139)

I quite clearly remember Jobs standing on stage at Moscone declaring proudly that the iPhone ran OS X. Everyone oohhed and ahhhed as they began to realize what this meant: the iPhone was a full-fledged miniature PC powered by their fave OS. Think of the killer apps that could be written for this thing, etcetera. Now that reality is setting in, one has to wonder what Steve's thinking. What use is a PC you can't write apps for?

what a ripoff (0, Troll)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805143)

RE:["But others say Cupertino is well within its rights to control its own device."]

once an iphone is sold it is no longer apple's property, it belongs to whomever purchased it...

besides Apple's gadgets are just overpriced fanboy crap & way too over priced...

Re:what a ripoff (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805337)

First two lines were good, but then you finished with a stupid troll comment.

To take your actual point though - the physical iPhone is indeed the property of the purchaser. The warranty may have been voided by the hack though, and further support becomes the responsibility of the hacker/owner. There were warnings all over the place about this update, but still some people chose to install it on their hacked iPhones.

The update made an assumption that the system software was as shipped. How can any software update account for unknown changes throughout the system without restoring to some factory default state (if possible)? I saw video of one hacker using a soldering iron. How can anyone expect that hack to work with system updates?

I own an unlocked iPhone (5, Insightful)

MSRedfox (1043112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805149)

As an owner of an unlocked iPhone I think people are just acting stupid. I'm perfectly content to sit back and use the 1.0.2 firmware until a solution is found for the new firmware. Going around and blaming Apple is a waste of time. While I think Apple could've handled things better to prevent bricking of phones, it isn't truly bricked. It is possible to revert the system back to the older firmware if you know what you're doing. The problem is, a bunch of naive users are playing with their firmware and they don't have a clue as to what this means. I think most intelligent iPhone hackers understand that you can't upgrade firmware the day it's released and expect it to work right with previous mods. But I guess all this complaining shows that a lot of ignorant people are hacking their phones without understanding all the complications involved.

Re:I own an unlocked iPhone (2, Informative)

jombeewoof (1107009) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805251)

Your comment just goes to show the measures which the unlearned, or ignorant will go through to get an iPhone that they can use.
Same basic concept as the PSP hacks a while back, people want to do specific things with the hardware that they buy. If that functionality is unavailable, the masses will create it for themselves. The fact that they cannot get it right, and end up bricking their phones is both their own fault for doing something they do not fully understand, and Apples's fault for not providing a piece of hardware the way people want it.

Re:I own an unlocked iPhone (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805279)

Don't you think that Apple resetting the SIM lock is a rather different matter though? I buy an iPhone and pay AT&T a big wad of cash to end the contract. They either hand over the unlock code or they don't - doesn't matter, US law says I can circumvent this anyway. So, I have my nice shiny iPhone, no contract, unlocked to work with any service provider I choose, then Apple comes along and screws me over by locking me back to AT&T, and while they are at it, they change the system so that it can't be unlocked (At this point in time)

Having an expectation that the firmware will screw over software modifications is one thing, but dicking with SIM locks is indeed a nice little legal issue just waiting for a judge to rule against Apple.

I don't think the phone is actually "unlocked" (4, Interesting)

MSRedfox (1043112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805365)

I don't think the current unlocking of the iPhone is a legit unlock. The current unlock method reflashes the modem firmware(with a modified version) to allow it to use multiple carriers. On my old smartphone, the unlock software scanned my phone and then when I booted with a different SIM, I typed in an unlock code and the phone actually unlocked itself (the same as if my carrier had given me the unlock code). The modified modem firmware, while it creates the unlock effect, it isn't the same method AT&T would use to unlock the iPhone.

I think the unlock method will change over the next few months. In the US, Apple uses AT&T, in Germany, they use T-Mobile, ETC... When the hacking groups begin to compare the differences between the various regional iPhones, they'll find that there is a better way to unlock. I doubt future firmware updates will convert German iPhones to AT&T. So by examine the difference, we should get closer to having a real unlock and hopefully we'll be able to avoid issues with firmware updates as a result.

Re:I don't think the phone is actually "unlocked" (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805437)

Thanks, all crystal clear now, wish I could retract my previous post a little :-) Teach me to spout off before properly understanding the method.

As much as I like what Apple does.... (2, Informative)

nattt (568106) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805151)

As much as I lke what Apple does, I like the Mac, OS X, X Code etc. I think they've really got it wrong here. It was wrong to tie into AT&T exclusively and wrong to stop the phone being unlocked. It should never have been locked in the first place. I was at WWDC when the lack of SDK was announced, and that again was a big bad move. The iPhone is a wonderful little device, but without proper 3rd party app support, it's a fashion accessory. I know some mac geeks who are geekier mac geeks than anyone else, and although they've got the iPhone, they're still on their Blackberries for practicality.

Re:As much as I like what Apple does.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805231)

I know some mac geeks who are geekier mac geeks than anyone else
Being into Apple more than most fanbois doesn't make you a geek, just a bigger fanboi, or maybe a cultist.

Re:As much as I like what Apple does.... (1)

mc moss (1163007) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805449)

Another problem that I noticed a lot of people overlooked was the fact that the battery is soldered into place. I can bet you in 1 1/2 to 2 years from now, there is going to be a huge outcry over the battery issue. The only way I would buy one is if they allowed 3rd party software, allow different carriers, and have a replaceable battery.

Read the fine print (-1, Flamebait)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805165)

Most warranties guarantee against manufacturing defects. Not against people opening their phones, scraping the solder mask off a trace, and soldering leads the trace and the nearest 0402 size part. Try adding brake fluid to the oil in your new car and see what the dealer says about your warranty.

Do we own the iPhone or lease it? (3, Informative)

bizitch (546406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805171)

I mean - wtf - do iPhone users own the thing or not? Whose property is it anyway?

If you were to lease the thing then I can side with Apple. But if they sold it then I dont get it ...

Aren't they violating the DMCA or whatever?

Re:Do we own the iPhone or lease it? (1)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805253)

iPhone users own it... but does that mean that Apple should have to release software to work with homebrewed mods and non-Apple firmware? Why do people insist that it's Apple's duty to support people making hard and soft hacks that Apple themselves didn't envision? No way. You may disagree with Apple's closing of the platform to non-Apple development, but don't thereby expect Apple to cave in and support non-Apple hard and soft hacks.

Re:Do we own the iPhone or lease it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805267)

Your a dumb ass. Yes Iphone users OWN the phone. These users fucked with the phone. Apple does not have to support it. If you get a dell pc and remove windows and upgrade the video card. Then dell gives you a bios update that you choose to put on your computer. Well the bios update increases the amount of power to the video card. So your mother board fries. Should dell have to pay for that because you are stupid?

Re:Do we own the iPhone or lease it? (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805293)

"I mean - wtf - do iPhone users own the thing or not? Whose property is it anyway?"
Yours. You modify your hardware, fine. You install Apple's update that's not made for your modifications, fine. But don't go expecting Apple to cover the problems you caused to your hardware. See how that works? If on the other hand you exercise some restraint in what you do to your iPhone, Apple will back you up if problems occur.

Is Re-Locking Unexpected? (3, Insightful)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805205)

Apple's update re-locks iPhones that were unlocked by third parties. Given that there have been several methods, none of which were approved or passed through Apple (obviously), how can Apple write OS updates that work around these hacks? At least one hack required physical modification to the iPhone - how can any update be expected to allow for unknown changes?

In fact, should Apple be expected to work around hacks at all?

I see the choice as either Apple updates the iPhones regardless of any hacks (over-writing them, re-locking iPhones) or Apple refuses to update hacked iPhones. Clearly Apple are taking the former path, and I agree with that.

Re:Is Re-Locking Unexpected? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805325)

It's not "re-locking", it's bricking: after update it doesn't work at all.

Re:Is Re-Locking Unexpected? (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805361)

Most cases were not bricks - they could be restored. 'Bricking' turns a device into a permanently non-functional unit, ie as useful as a brick.

The few cases of actual bricking should be taken straight to Apple for warranty service, unless they were physically hacked in which case it's just too bad.

More than enough blame on both sides (3, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805219)

First, what kind of clueless idiot runs an update on a hacked device after being told explicitly that running the update on a hacked device will brick said device. Second, what kind of feature phone/PDA maker creates a device that doesn't include a usable SDK and APIs so that developers can add functionality without compromising the core firmware and creating the brick-on-update problem.

Both sides have shown less than stellar judgment and both sides will lose. I suspect that the iPhone plaintiffs will lose their case and Apple will lose a chunk of market-share opportunity.

Crybaby Douchebags (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805237)

This is like ignoring a "No Trespassing" sign, then getting shot. Don't Follow instructions; pay the consequences. End of Story.

Overrated. Overpriced. Oversoon (0, Offtopic)

deadmongrel (621467) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805239)

I have nothing against apple design but I never understood why people went ape crap over iphone. The cost of the phone was really high and added to that you still have to sign a contract with ATT and added cost to replace batteries. I know it "looks" cool and all but there were other devices(although not many in US) which could do all the things that could be done with an iphone.

I guess reality is setting in for those who are suing.

Re:Overrated. Overpriced. Oversoon (1)

BryGross (1161525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805469)

I agree that the iPhone might not be classified as a succcesful launch now. Make or break: will all of these problems be resolved come holiday season 2007?

Fixing vulnerabilities (4, Interesting)

spooje (582773) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805243)

It was a buffer overflow that allowed the hack that was exploited to unlock the phone in the first place. If Apple didn't fix it, people would be complaining Apple had lax security.

Re:Fixing vulnerabilities (1)

eli pabst (948845) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805509)

That would prevent you from unlocking a iPhone with the new firmware, it shouldn't have bricked an iPhone that has already been unlocked (you're just closing the barn door after the horses already got away). The big question is whether this was co-incidentally as Apple would have you believe or whether they actually included code in the update that looked to see if a legitimate SIM in place and would brick your phone if it wasn't.

Retorical question (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805255)

Is there a way to replace the default OS w/ a Linux based one? Without killing the WiFi, phone, and music playing? Apple can't brick a phone that they don't provide updates for.

Re:Retorical question (1)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805391)

AFAIK, not yet.

Of course it's theoretically feasible, it just hasn't been done yet (to the best of my knowledge)

Who owns your I phone? (4, Insightful)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805261)

In the story headline I saw

But others say Cupertino is well within its rights to control its own device.
and was thinking that this must have been written by a younger person. Some one my age would believe that if I bought something, it belonged to me. I bought it, I paid for it, it is mine to do with what I want. I guess I must have a "customer" mentality being born in the middle 50's instead of the new in vouge "consumer" mentality. Sad state of affairs, that "consumers" let themselves get pushed around in a way "customers" never ever would.

Re:Who owns your I phone? (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805441)

> >"But others say Cupertino is well within its rights to control its own device."

>"and was thinking that this must have been written by a younger person. Some one my age would believe that if I bought something, it belonged to me. I bought it, I paid for it, it is mine to do with what I want."

Naw, sounds more like a Windows user - they're trained to believe that Windows says "My Computer" because Bill Gates thinks he owns it.

Apple simply doesn't have the right to brick a phone - not only is it against consumer law in many areas, but its also against the PATRIOT ACT, which increased penalties under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (iPhones are both communications devices and networked computing devices). Finally, Apple as terrorists ...

Re:Who owns your I phone? (1)

drifterusa (987504) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805443)

Well, I was born in the mid-'50's, too. I think you are free to do what you want with what you buy, but I also think if what you do turns out to be incompatible with an update from the manufacturer, it's your problem to deal with. That's the notion of "personal responsibility," supposedly also big in the '50's.

Stupid Apple faggots (1)

lennyhell (869433) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805273)

What did you expect from iPhone lusers? Stupidity and faggotry. Dear Apple customers, please choking on cock. ktnxbye

Will other companies follow suit? (2, Interesting)

sup2100 (996095) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805281)

If Apple gets away with this and doesn't suffer a backlash from its customers then other companies might follow suit. Microsoft bans people with hacked XBOX's from playing online, but at least they don't brick the system. What if Microsoft, Sony or even Nintendo were to follow suit with their game systems?

As always (2, Informative)

Usekh (557680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805297)

The lawsuit. America's answer to everything.

Re:As always (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805357)

Too true. People seem to be willing to sue at the drop of a hat. But how else do you expect to keep companies in check when they truly have screwed up like in this case?

This is what you get (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805327)

This is what you get if you buy a phone that's under the control of Apple, tied to one provider, only allowed to run 'approved' applications. Apple never said you'd get any different.

When reading articles like this one, Windows Genuine Advantage, even crap like the Patriot Act, they make me realise people don't care about freedom until they lose it. If Benjamin Franklin were a software engineer today, he'd probably say something like:

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a shiny UI, deserve neither Liberty nor the shiny UI.

Oh, and f1st p0st, LOL

If you want a phone that won't try to lock you in, might I suggest the OpenMoko [openmoko.com]. It looks good and is completely open, why bother trying to work on a platform that's actively hostile? Get one that encourages hacking! Those that just want a phone that runs Apple's ShinyOS, get the iPhone.

Hey hackers, stop whining (3, Insightful)

jerkychew (80913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805385)

This is not a troll post, I swear. I agree that if we own a piece of hardware we should be able to do with it what we want. But, that line starts to blur when said hardware needs a particular network connection to function.

I can hack my (original) xbox or Wii. I just can't connect to their online services or download any updates because, surprise, the updates may brick my consoles. It sucks, since there's no proof that a hacked console is being used for illegal purposes, but that's the way it is. And I can't attempt to get the consoles serviced, because I've voided their warranty. The same policy applies to my Ford Ranger - If I change the chip in the onboard computer, I've voided my warranty.

Where it's a little different in this case is that the iPhone downloads its updates automatically. There's no real benefit to using an iPhone as just an iPod, now that the iPod touch is out. But it's not like you don't have a choice in what phone you buy. There are plenty of other phones on plenty of other carriers. You chose to buy an iPhone, and you chose to hack it to run on another network, knowing full well that it was not only unsupported by Apple, but would void your warranty and possibly brick your phone. If you didn't know that, you shouldn't have been involved in hacking your iPhone in the first place.

For better or worse, the iPhone is a closed system. It's meant to run one OS on one carrier. Am I going to sue Chevrolet because my Corvette got stuck on a mountain bike trail? Of course not. I used the car in a manner not supported (or warrented) by the manufacturer, and now I pay the price.

All this talk of class action lawsuits and people whining about the supposed Apple 'monopoly' of the iPod and iPhone just makes me mad. Nobody's forcing you to buy the shiny, pretty Apple gadget. Go buy a Zen. Or a Treo. Or a Dell. Stop trying to blame the big bad corporation for telling you how to use its product.

Deleting the post (1)

SpectreBlofeld (886224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805389)

Anymore more upset about Apple deleting dissenting posts in its forums than about the iPhone issue?

Re:Deleting the post (1)

HairyCanary (688865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805473)

You think Apple should leave posts in its own forums that are soliciting for participation in a class action lawsuit? That is absurd. If you want a soapbox, pay for it yourself. I do not see how any company (even Microsoft, as much as I despise them...) is required to support you in your quest to take money from them.

My question... (1)

GregPK (991973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805405)

Why would you update the phone if you knew that it wasn't compatable with what you've done to it? The update is optional... Why should Apple make all thier updates work with your stuff?

I have mixed feelings about this (3, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805421)

"But others say Cupertino is well within its rights to control its own device."

Control its own device? So Apple takes your money but the phone is still theirs? Sorry but that's just plain wrong.

You give Apple money.
They give you a phone.
You lose ownership of the money -- it now belongs to Apple.
Apple loses ownership of the phone -- it now belongs to you.

That's the fundamental basis of all commerce.

On the other hand, anyone stupid enough to pay hundreds of dollars for an over-priced over-hyped phone with ridiculous limitations deserves to get screwed. So I guess it isn't so bad after all.

What a predicament (2, Interesting)

GStyle98 (1161923) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805467)

So you buy an iPhone, then pay off the remainder of the 2 year contract. Now you want to use it with T-Mobile or move to Europe. How do you do that with the iPhone? Can you? Sure. Does Apple want you to? No. Why not? They got their money from Apple (unless they get a % of the monthly billing and not a contract-term total), they got their money from the phone... what else is there? How do you legally and with Apple's blessings take your iPhone and use it on another network like the DMCA has (seemingly) intended (http://www.copyright.gov/1201/):

Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.

It would seem that Apple just doesn't want to let that be.

Anyway... (1)

Daishiman (698845) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805517)

Regardless of the rights of Apple or not to fix bricked iPhones, we have to admit that Jobs' promotion of the iPhone around OS X and such was intellectually dishonest, as is the fact that the phones' locking is not easily circumventable. Sure, they can do that, but it's something that should be thought of as offensive for consumers as loyal as Apple buyers. That's why I'd never buy one of those or recommend it for anyone.

oh, stop whining (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805525)

is well within its rights to control its own device.

It stopped being "their device" when they sold it; after the sale, you can do with it whatever you want. OTOH, they can push whatever updates they like and don't have to honor their warranty if you have modified your device substantially. Furthermore, it's not like this is coming out of the blue either: Apple was clear about what the iPhone was for, they have a history of more than two decades of doing this to their customers, so WTF are people complaining about?

Intent To Brick! (2, Insightful)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 6 years ago | (#20805529)

I believe a class action is going to break out and I think it will be successful, though perhaps by media pressure and not by judgment. I acknowledge there are various technical arguments to the effect that Apple can only test its patches against firmware or software it knows, so if a phone that has different firmware or software 'just happens' to be bricked in the update process, that doesn't prove 'intent to brick'.

But it doesn't matter. This is too fine a technical detail to dally over and Apple trying to use it in defense will just glaze over the eyes of judges or jury that to whom this is presented. The rule of law is that of what seems reasonable to an adult, and that people who pay hundreds of dollars for a non-subsidized device can have it bricked by the manufacturer carrying on as if they still own the phone is plainly not reasonable.

Instead, I think this will become a turning point for the carrier and handset industry. Around the iPhone, a critical mass has gathered that is passionate about the device, which no other device has enjoyed in this space until now (most handsets sales are small number or subsidized, cheap commodity phones no one can get excited about). Many of these people are the obnoxious, uppity Mac crowd stereotype who are convinced they are right regardless of the facts, but in this case their conviction may be a triumph for everyone. Once precedent swings against the ridiculous situation where carriers and handset manufacturers believe that they can control and restrict a device they have sold in good faith, it will crumble and just perhaps we will see a shift in power in the mobile space from carrier/manufacturer to consumer. Therefore, I say to iPhone owners: Sue, and sue hard. Punitive damages. Criminal RICO prosecution. An all out attack will keep it in the press and that may be more powerful than the suits themselves.

ahhhh... so thats why.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20805537)

So that's why they haven't start selling iPhones over here... by law the phone can be unlocked after 2 years of the purchase without any aditional fee, or for a fixed fee posted by the carier if before those 2 years time. So doesn't matter if the phone is locked to a carier or not, I have, by law, the right to change carier (even if by paying a fee.... gotta love those competition and trade laws in here).

Deja vu sensation with 1st gen iPod that weren't sold here coz of the 24 months warranty that wouldn't go along with the 18 months lifetime battery hey...
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