So the latest iPhone update looks “likely” to kill unlocked phones. Reports suggest that the update may also prove detrimental to legitimate locked phones.

The hyperbole has already started to fly, claiming Apple (last weeks wunderkind) is now in fact the evil empire.

Let’s be rationale here and look backwards  bit.

I can imagine AT&T had to bend over backwards to get an iPhone exclusive. I know the modern economy is all about participation and the power of the community (hey – it’s a platform that I spend much of my time thinking about, talking about and planning for) but there are some commercial realities here.

I would be very surprised if AT&T didn’t have a locked solid agreement that compels Apple to do everything in its power to stop unauthorised usage of the iPhone for a certain period of time. Apple, to a certain extent, has it’s hands tied.

If he update does in fact brick unlocked phones there is nothing anyone can moan about – people knew (or should have) the risks of unlocking the 1st generation phones.

If the update causes problems with locked phones that is different and is a QA issue. Apple should have tested and retested the update to ensure its efficacy. If thy haven’t I’m sure they’ll put things right quick smart.

Lesson from all of this – in a total business 2.0 model bad things don’t happen because collaboration is king and the biggest form of IP. We’re not there yet so we still need to accept that commercial realities will sometimes get in the way of community building ideals.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

1 Comment
  • Yes but, if all we wanted here was to give AT&T a true blue exclusive, why wasn’t it done the simple way by having AT&T be the only place you could buy the phones? Instead, Apple clearly is selling phones through other channels with no service. Then they want to slam users for signing up for service elsewhere. That’s disengenuous at best.

    There is a law that’s supposed to govern the portability of your phone number to avoid this sort of thing. Yes, the spirit of that law can be thwarted in exactly the way Apple has done, but is it right?

    I don’t believe Apple’s contract with AT&T compells them to brick phones. That’s malicious. I would have no problem if they choose not to honor the warranty, but to actively sabotage a phone just isn’t right.

    Put another way, it’s not the Good User Experience everyone thinks Apple stands for:

    http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/2007/09/28/apples-greatest-strength-and-weakness-they-are-control-freaks-aka-beware-proxies-for-success/

    Cheers,

    BW

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