The iPhone 1.1.1 update that broke unlocked phones is being called a mistake by industry analysts, according to a PC World story. On Monday, analysts said the decision to bundle a crippling firmware update with the ten security patches was plagued with a lack of full disclosure. If companies don’t tell users exactly what patches will do to their software or devices, people may worry what the latest update will break, and whether installing the update will backfire and make the program or device inoperable.
Aside from the security patches to the built-in Safari browser, Bluetooth firmware, and email application and the upgrade of the iTunes software that enabled access to the Wi-Fi Music Store, Apple bundled the by-now infamous patch to the device’s firmware that rendered phones unlocked with the anySIM tool useless.
If companies like Apple (and Microsoft, which has also done things like this in the past, like the Windows Genuine Advantage update in the summer of 2006) continue mixing features, functionality, and security in their patches, users may not bother to upgrade, worried about breakage, insufficiently-tested new features, and other problems. To keep iPhone users secure, Apple needs to tell its users up-front exactly what will happen when the updates are installed. The current tactics scare legitimate users who have not unlocked their phones into wondering whether their phone will work the day after an upgrade.
Whether Apple defends their actions or not, the upgrade also raises issues about who actually owns a purchased device. Apple and many cellphone carriers seem to project the attitude that they own every device they’ve ever sold, and that they can enable or disable features, disable the device, delete your applications or data, or any number of things. Is this really where we want American business to go?