So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

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So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by Roofus » Wed Oct 03, 2007 5:03 pm

Apple has released an "update" patch for its iPhone that has disabled many—if not most—of the phones that users "modified" for increased capability. Apparently, if you try to return or exchange your bricked phone as defective, Apple will be able to tell that the phone has been hacked and refuse to accept it. It seems that Apple is taking a "Hey, we told you not to do it" approach with these folks.

If I had a bricked phone, I'd run my car battery juice into one of its outputs (say, the headphones) and let it rip. Then I'd bring the phone in to Apple. I'm not exactly sure what would happen, but I assume it wouldn't look "hacked." (Of course, I'm not advising anyone to do what I would do.)

Apple could have handled the hacking mess in a million ways, beginning with warnings rather than unilateral action. From what I can tell, there was ill intent involved in Apple's approach. Apple has always been a bit of a control freak of a company. It doesn't like to see anyone do anything to its proprietary hardware and software. The company does not want the user to have any real control.

This is why there is no real community of case-modders or homebrew mavens, building modded Macs the way you see with the PC folks. There's nothing wrong with Apple keeping such control over its computers, since it does help protect the Mac from outside hackers and Trojan-horse feeders. But with the iPhone, things are a little different. There's no real reason for people to pay full price for a locked phone, and everyone knows that the price is the real issue. It's not about anything else

All over the world, phone stores sell unlocked phones that allow the user to swap GSM SIM cards in and out of the product as needed. There are a lot of reasons you might want to have an unlocked phone, including the ability to use local SIM cards in various European countries or to simply change service providers because you like one more than another.

In the U.S., locked phones are more common. The mechanism for a locked phone is internal to the phone and consists of various codes that instruct the phone to work only with a certain service provider. Consequently, SIM cards that bill through other systems simply do not work.

Most locked phones can be unlocked, with a code that disables the locking mechanism. You can also find unlocking codes on various Web sites. Typically, a service provider will give you the code if requested, but only after you have completed the long-term deal that got you the locked phone for a cheap price in the first place.

This last little detail is key. The phones are locked, but they are sold at a deep discount if the user takes out a long-term contract that usually runs a couple of years. Here we have a practical sales trick that makes sense for everyone. The user gets a phone at a discount, or often free, and the service provider gets a customer it can depend upon for two years or so.

Nobody has ever attempted the "trick" of selling the phone at full retail, keeping it locked, tying the customer into a long-term contract with a crummy service provider, and allowing no alternatives to this scheme. Hello, Apple. Users seem to have been so dazed by their shiny iPhones that they failed to notice that they were getting royally screwed by everyone involved. Or they thought they could get around it with hacks. Now this bricking thing happens.

The end result may not be what Apple (or AT&T, for that matter) expected. The most vocal of the most technical people in the world are going to complain, and there will be lawsuits. The results of consumer lawsuits are never good for the companies involved, especially when the consumer is in the right (morally, not from the perspective of a shrink-wrap license), and the companies that are abusing their power are clearly in the wrong.

The following bad/good things may happen:

1) Locked phones could be deemed illegal in all circumstances as a restraint of trade.
2) Companies could be held responsible for replacing a product that was bought at full price and disabled by after-sale modifications. The company would also be liable for any inconvenience suffered by the customer.
3) Product licenses could be found not to be valid legal documents (this is coming someday, you watch).
4) All current iPhones could be required to be unlocked immediately.
5) Current AT&T contracts could be voided.

I'm sure there are other scenarios that one can foresee. But these would be a start.

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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by hearld500 » Wed Oct 03, 2007 5:39 pm

Well, by using the phone, you're accepting the user agreement.
The user agreement, tells you not to do it, you break it, why can't they?

No, I don't agree with it, but it's not completely unjustified.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by APE » Wed Oct 03, 2007 6:55 pm

To deliberately disable a device to me seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen, especially if you have no way to go back to factory fresh.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by butters » Wed Oct 03, 2007 7:02 pm

hearld500 wrote:Well, by using the phone, you're accepting the user agreement.
The user agreement, tells you not to do it, you break it, why can't they?

No, I don't agree with it, but it's not completely unjustified.
Ianal, but it seems to me that this could not constitute a valid contractual agreement simply because a legal contract requires consideration. Does a license display when you first turn the device on that you have to agree to?
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by MulletMan13 » Wed Oct 03, 2007 7:32 pm

Not all the unlocked phones were bricked... about 20% of them were (the early unlockers with the less refined methods)

Nevertheless the choice was there to not upgrade to 1.1.1... meh
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by jaredfogle » Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:57 pm

Tsk-tsk, Jobs.

I seem to remember a certain young Bay Area punk making reefer money selling blue boxes to mess with the network.

I like this man less and less the older he gets. He's like Mick Jagger.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by |darc| » Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:14 am

I certainly don't agree with the direction Apple is taking with third-party development and modification of the iPhone, but they said they were going to brick unlocked iPhones with the update beforehand. If you attempted the update despite this, you're stupid.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by Roofus » Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:58 am

hearld500 wrote:Well, by using the phone, you're accepting the user agreement.
The user agreement, tells you not to do it, you break it, why can't they?

No, I don't agree with it, but it's not completely unjustified.
|darc| wrote:If you attempted the update despite this, you're stupid.
I think the bigger question is, do they even have the right to brick your phone? Remember, it's perfectly legal to unlock your phone and unlike most locked phones, the iPhone is not subsidized. Leo Laporte had a pretty good analogy:

Suppose you sell me a cow. But you say I can only use this cow for cheese. Then one day, I decide I'm tired of cheese; I want milk. You find out that I've been using the cow for milk, so you come over and shoot my cow. Is that reasonable? Am I stupid for wanting milk?
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by |darc| » Thu Oct 04, 2007 1:59 am

Roofus wrote:
hearld500 wrote:Well, by using the phone, you're accepting the user agreement.
The user agreement, tells you not to do it, you break it, why can't they?

No, I don't agree with it, but it's not completely unjustified.
|darc| wrote:If you attempted the update despite this, you're stupid.
I think the bigger question is, do they even have the right to brick your phone? Remember, it's perfectly legal to unlock your phone and unlike most locked phones, the iPhone is not subsidized. Leo Laporte had a pretty good analogy:

Suppose you sell me a cow. But you say I can only use this cow for cheese. Then one day, I decide I'm tired of cheese; I want milk. You find out that I've been using the cow for milk, so you come over and shoot my cow. Is that reasonable? Am I stupid for wanting milk?
That's a horrible analogy. First of all, Apple is required to give you a warranty for the iPhone, whereas there doesn't seem to be a warranty on the cow. Apple is giving you a set of restrictions that say what you can and can't do in order to receive service on the iPhone.

Apple didn't come over and brick your iPhone. You see, to get better milk from the cow you were giving the cow special drugs for it to produce better milk. You took your cow with its unauthorized milking drugs over to Apple for cow service and it was there your cow died. Apple didn't shoot your cow, it gave it some vitamins to keep the cow in shape. Unfortunately, the vitamins clashed with your unauthorized drugs and your cow died. The service guy said "Hey, you didn't add any special milking drugs to your cow, eh? Because the vitamins could clash with it and be fatal." But you said "No no, of course not." Now you have a dead cow.

The Steve didn't brick everyone's iPhones because he felt in a particularly evil mood. No, that wouldn't make much sense. Now, I may be wrong because I haven't messed with the iPhone stuff myself, but from what I understand, the iPhone's unlocking takes advantage of an exploit in the software/firmware/whatever, and updating your iPhone actually patches that problem, but at the same time prevents the iPhone hacks from working.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by Roofus » Thu Oct 04, 2007 2:34 am

|darc| wrote:The Steve didn't brick everyone's iPhones because he felt in a particularly evil mood. No, that wouldn't make much sense. Now, I may be wrong because I haven't messed with the iPhone stuff myself, but from what I understand, the iPhone's unlocking takes advantage of an exploit in the software/firmware/whatever, and updating your iPhone actually patches that problem, but at the same time prevents the iPhone hacks from working.
Right. Adding the WiFi iTunes store in no way required bricking an unlocked iPhone. I don't know why they decided to do that, but I imagine AT&T had more than a little to do with it, and we know The Steve hates open platforms.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by SuperMegatron » Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:50 am

jaredfogle wrote:Tsk-tsk, Jobs.

I seem to remember a certain young Bay Area punk making reefer money selling blue boxes to mess with the network.

I like this man less and less the older he gets. He's like Mick Jagger.
The irony about that is the Steve's at least according to woz got off on fucking with ATT, now they are bending over backwards to keep on good terms with them lol.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by Covar » Thu Oct 04, 2007 6:57 am

Roofus wrote:
|darc| wrote:The Steve didn't brick everyone's iPhones because he felt in a particularly evil mood. No, that wouldn't make much sense. Now, I may be wrong because I haven't messed with the iPhone stuff myself, but from what I understand, the iPhone's unlocking takes advantage of an exploit in the software/firmware/whatever, and updating your iPhone actually patches that problem, but at the same time prevents the iPhone hacks from working.
Right. Adding the WiFi iTunes store in no way required bricking an unlocked iPhone.
because with that update they wouldn't bother fixing some firmware bugs while they were at it without having to advertise "Security Update."
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by pavelbure » Thu Oct 04, 2007 11:41 am

breaking someones product because you don't like what they legally do with it is just asking for a lawsuit, which will happen soon.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by |darc| » Thu Oct 04, 2007 11:49 am

pavelbure wrote:breaking someones product because you don't like what they legally do with it is just asking for a lawsuit, which will happen soon.
They broke it themselves by forcing their phone's functionality to rely upon a bug.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by APE » Thu Oct 04, 2007 1:29 pm

What about the people who canceled the contract? The iPhone is still theirs, why should Apple be able to pull this crap?
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by Lartrak » Thu Oct 04, 2007 2:15 pm

I'd just like to say that shrink wrap contracts are of questionable validity anyway. And there are some things which even if they're in a contract, won't protect a company.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by Ex-Cyber » Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:42 pm

Lartrak wrote:I'd just like to say that shrink wrap contracts are of questionable validity anyway. And there are some things which even if they're in a contract, won't protect a company.
I'm rather disturbed by the degree to which people seem to believe that writing something down in (pseudo-)legalese makes it as good as law.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by Specially Cork » Thu Oct 04, 2007 4:22 pm

APE wrote:why should Apple be able to pull this crap?
So you're saying it is Apple's responsibility to ensure all future firmware upgrades they release function correctly with every hacked/unlocked iphone regardless of method used?
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by Roofus » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:55 pm

BoneyCork wrote:
APE wrote:why should Apple be able to pull this crap?
So you're saying it is Apple's responsibility to ensure all future firmware upgrades they release function correctly with every hacked/unlocked iphone regardless of method used?
If Apple wanted to keep me from using 3rd party apps on my phone and the firmware deleted them and made it so I couldn't easily reload them, that's fine. If they made it so T-Mobile didn't work and I had to use AT&T, that's also fine. But they did that and broke the phones. It's like if I was stealing cable and the cable company didn't just disconnect me, but also fried my TY.
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Re: So apparently, Apple bricked all the unlocked iPhones

Post by |darc| » Fri Oct 05, 2007 10:50 am

Roofus wrote:
BoneyCork wrote:
APE wrote:why should Apple be able to pull this crap?
So you're saying it is Apple's responsibility to ensure all future firmware upgrades they release function correctly with every hacked/unlocked iphone regardless of method used?
If Apple wanted to keep me from using 3rd party apps on my phone and the firmware deleted them and made it so I couldn't easily reload them, that's fine. If they made it so T-Mobile didn't work and I had to use AT&T, that's also fine. But they did that and broke the phones. It's like if I was stealing cable and the cable company didn't just disconnect me, but also fried my TY.
So you're telling me that if you did a TSOP reflash on your Xbox BIOS, and Microsoft then released Halo 2 for Xbox requiring you to install a new version of the dashboard, which doesn't boot from hacked BIOSs, and the upgrade said "DO NOT INSTALL THE UPDATE IF YOU HAVE A HACKED BIOS OR IT WILL BRICK YOUR XBOX," and you did it anyway, and it bricked your Xbox, Microsoft is the bad guy?


None of your analogies make sense because they all involve the company walking in randomly and shooting your cow or electrifying your TV or something else equally ludicrous. On the other hand, with the iPhone you've made your phone dependent on functionality that legitimately gets patched. What if that same hole lets people run arbitrary code from a website in iPhone Safari? Then all of a sudden everyone who goes to http://iphone.ivegotcandycomeinmywebsite.com/gets bricked iPhones, and everyone is pissed at Apple.

It's more along the lines of the kid who was stealing copper from the power lines when the power went out. The power went on and the kid got bricked. Should we call foul on the electric company because they should've just made the copper unstealable, but instead they went and bricked the kid stealing the copper?
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