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Article: iPhones not 'bricked' out of spite

updated 11:15 am EDT, Mon October 8, 2007

No spite in iPhone 'brick

Despite accusations to the contrary, Apple did not deliberately attempt to sabotage iPhone hacks in its controversial v1.1.1 firmware update, one writer argues. A Wired commmentator observes that when the original Mac was released in 1984, it had no expansion slots, an oddity in an era of computers aimed at hobbyists. The system was oriented at regular people, and Apple, it is said, wanted to avoid the known problem of lockups and reboots caused by expansion hardware. Although modern hobbyists may not like it, this same philosophy may be driving iPhone development.

"You don't want your phone to be like a PC," Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained to the New York Times in January, following the iPhone's initial announcement. "The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn't work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers."

Blogger Erica Sadun of TUAW contends that Apple may have even attempted to avoid breaking hacks unnecessarily, and simply failed. "It wasn't intentional at all," she says. "If they wanted to brick hacked iPhones, they could have done a much better job of it." The proof is said to be in the existence of problems with unhacked iPhones, which should in theory have remained unaffected. Examining the new firmware shows that it is "very unfinished," Sadun says, and in some areas it appears to be "a complete hack" of its own.

Apple has sometimes insisted that it maintains a neutral stance on hacking, but contradicting this view is the presence of certification, encryption and checksums on virtually everything in v1.1.1., an obvious move to exclude third parties. Jobs himself has said that the company has a "cat-and-mouse" relationship with hackers, noting, "People will try to break in, and it's our job to stop them breaking in."

It is unknown if or when Apple might open up the iPhone to authorized development. Sadun contends that it will happen, but that Apple will only invite select companies to participate, such as game developers. Engineer and blogger Adrian Cockcroft claims that the iPhone is essentially unfinished, and that Apple will launch first-party apps such as iChat before an SDK is ready for others.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. mrjohn

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Eh?

    It's really hard to buy Apple's argument about third party apps bringing down the phone when, on the other hand, Apple is touting the phone as using OS X. Yeah, my OS X machines are brought down all the time when an app crashes or goes bad. Uh huh.

  1. Chris Paveglio

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Those empty spaces

    I think that it's proof of coming full applications, just look on the main screen, there is 'empty space' below the last line of buttons. Steve would never want a closed system to look like it had space to expand. Apple plans to put some new apps there first so the screen is filled with buttons.

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Unlock GSM too please...

    ...the argument of lost revenues is somewhat moot from my perspective as I would never buy a full data plan - I simply don't need it - Apple & Rogers (Canada) wouldn't be 'missing' any revenue from someone like myself - but I might buy an iPhone for more PDA oriented reasons & who knows maybe even start to use the cell service more...

    Simply waiting on the trickle down...

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: eh?

    Many Mac apps break with every major update, not to mention new hardware or a totally new OS.

    The iPhone is in infant stage and needs time to grow into a full computing platform, the OS can change dramatically, also the hardware and more problematic the change from ARM to Intel processors.

    I also believe that this is the reason why Apple hasn't released 100 extra applications via iTunes yet, the platform needs to settle first.

  1. JohnFromBeyond

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    side effect only

    I believe the conntetion that Apple didn't target third party apps. Apple was trying to prevent unlocking, and possibly also illegal (?) ringtones with the last firmware update. It was just an unfortunate side effect that locking those two doors also locked the third door. When Jobs made his often misquoted "cat and mouse' statement, he was NOT referring to third party apps, he was talking about hackers who unlock the phone from ATT. If hackers had not been trying to load unpurchased ringtones and unlock the phone, we would all be enjoying third party apps right now. Not saying I am taking Apple's side, but you need to distinguish between these three categories of hacking...

  1. Luke MacWalker

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: re: eh?

    I don't buy your hypothesis: in this case, why would Apple have allowed any development for Mac OS X 10.0 or even 10.1 and 10.2?

  1. the white shadow

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    apples and oranges

    To read a really insightful article on the subject, check out Roughly Drafted's latest on Mike Elgan (http://test.roughlydrafted.com/). The pertinent parts read:

    "....the iPhone isnít a small PC, but rather a series of at least three independent embedded processors, including a baseband cellular radio subsystem and the ARM processors running the OS X operating system.

    "Each of these systems has its own firmware, and that firmware has to be in a known state in order to load software properly. When hackers dig through the system, they can overrun memory buffers until part of the system resets, then feed it replacement code to allow themselves further access into the system. This works very much like a biological virus, which inserts its own DNA code into cells to force them to perform other tasks. Like viruses, these break ins complicate how the host system works in complex ways.

    "No computer or device makers can offer to support a PC or mobile device running with tampered firmware. For example, Microsoft doesnít guarantee that Windows will load properly on a system that does not work as originally designed after unsupported hacks are made to its BIOS."

    -tws

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: re: eh?

    Because Apple had no other option, the Mac had to be an open platform to succeed. And because of this, the internet is full of Mac software that won't work on the newest machines. We need specialized sites to sort out the different versions and we never know if the particular software will work with the next version of osX or actively developed.

    This is not the business model Apple wants for the iPhone.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: eh

    Many Mac apps break with every major update, not to mention new hardware or a totally new OS.

    Right, but they don't break the OS (that's what everyone says is so great of OS X, it doesn't crash!).

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: eh?

    We don't know that it won't happen in the iPhone but basically i agree, Windows mobile phones crash a lot with 3P apps but Apple can do better than that.

    Apple has the opportunity to control everything from hardware, OS and apps, i don't think we can change there mind on that. The user experience is going to be very good and 95% of the users won't need the extra apps, don't forget that Apple is likely going to sell extra applications and games via iTunes.

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