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.