September 28, 2007

Post-update Update

So Apple released 1.1.1 for the iPhone, and sure enough, it breaks shit left right and center. It's now painfully clear why that Apple clarification of warranty went out first. I'm of mixed feelings about some of this.

I am neutral about the effects on unlocked phones. As far as can be determined, the update doesn't destroy (brick) them entirely, but somehow disables their radio hardware so that activating them using any SIM card is prevented. While this is most definitely uncool, it also seems to indicate that there is some manner of recoverability, since the 'failure' is clearly a defined mode. What Apple does next is anybody's guess.

The iPhones left in this state are pretty much (to me) meant to be service magnets - that is, like cable TV providers sending out pulses to brick illegal boxes, Apple hopes that people will bring their iPhones in for service and be scolded back into the fold. The problem is that if this is the case, then Apple must have a method for restoring the phones in question, since the most likely avenue (to my uninformed self) would be to charge a service procedure fee. This indicates that a) the phone isn't damaged and b) there's a technical fix. Apple's problem is now one of timing, it seems.

The same forces that were behind the unlock and initial jailbreaking of the phone are no doubt working busily on recovering said phones - if not to their 'unlocked' status, then at least to their original AT&T functionality. Apple is therefore betting that 'most' people who have unlocked their iPhone will not want to wait an undetermined amount of time for this to occur, and will tamely submit to the official fix procedures. I don't know what those are - there are reports of iPhones being exchanged by Apple Stores, either because they haven't Got The Memo from the mothership or because the mothership might expect a few innocents to get caught in the blast? In any case, they haven't told us what the Official Apple SUBMIT procedure will be. If I'm correct about their intentions (i.e. scare everybody back into the fold) I'm betting that there will be a 'pay a nominal fix fee' procedure which involves you handing in your iPhone and getting it back unbricked with firmware 1.1.1 firmly stamped on it.

I'm disappointed in the grand scheme of things by this. I don't think it was At All Cool. On the other hand, Apple did clearly set up the rules of the game when they released the phone, so they haven't done anything 'unexpectedly dastardly.' Especially if there *is* an 'approved recovery' procedure. I am more ticked about the notion that the new firmware wipes out the AppTapp installer, jailbreaking and the installation of third party apps not related to their revenue sharing deal with AT&T. I recognize that this is because it affects me directly, whereas the unlock bit doesn't, but still - there is a contractual and revenue-based reasoning behind the attempts to control unlocking, much as I disagree with it. It's a fight that, dumb as it may be, they chose early on - and their analysis of the money to be had probably told them that it was worth it.

However, hacks that improve the functionality of the iPhone without jeopardizing their revenue? And, in fact, make the iPhone a much more desirable product? Dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I suppose I should be grateful that the new firmware doesn't brick phones with installed apps, just wipes them - but no, I'm not. I'm just pissed, and I'm holding onto my 1.0.2 firmware image with clenched fists. Until the boffins over at the DevTeam jailbreak 1.1.1 too.

I couldn't give a rat's ass about the iTunes Wifi Music store. But Frotz and ssh? Fuck you, Apple, those are mission-critical.

Posted by jbz at September 28, 2007 2:49 PM | TrackBack

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