Not Dead Yet

Holy CowPeople seem to have misinterpreted my “dead cow” analogy and are assuming that I bricked my iPhone. Nope. I have both the original iPhone, upgraded to 1.1.1, and the unlocked iPhone still and forever at 1.0.2. I’m donating the latter to The Lab for further experimentation. I’ll keep the locked phone around so I can continue to cover the platform, which was the reason I bought it in the first place.
It’s not for myself that I am whining, or even others I know whose phone were bricked. My point is that it’s punitive for Apple to intentionally damage unlocked iPhones, and I believe that’s wrong.

To those who say we can’t know Apple’s intention, I’d respond that it would have been a simple bit of coding to checksum the modem firmware and refuse to update if it had been modified. In fact, that would have been a prudent precaution no matter what. By choosing not to do so Apple is making its intent clear, and absent any statement to the contrary from Cupertino I’m going to continue to think Apple wishes unlockers ill, no matter what Fake Steve Jobs says.

To prove I still have a working iPhone, here are two pictures from my hotel window in Vancouver. One with the iPhone and one with the Nokia N95. You tell me which you prefer.

Nokia N95




Oh, and incidentally on the Nokia and the unlocked iPhone uploading these images in full quality to Flickr takes one click using third party apps (ShoZu on the N95 and Send Picture on the iPhone). On the locked iPhone I had to dock to my Mac, import the photo into iPhoto, export it, and then upload to Flickr. That’s one of the reasons I want to be able add third-party apps to my mobile phones.

Now I’m going to run to the Fatburger next door and have a veggie burger. No more dead cows for me. Good night.

73 Replies to “Not Dead Yet”

  1. definately the nokia has a better pic then apple. the apple photo seems to have an all blue tint on everything

  2. “To those who say we can’t know Apple’s intention, I’d respond that it would have been a simple bit of coding to checksum the modem firmware and refuse to update if it had been modified. In fact, that would have been a prudent precaution no matter what. ”
    But what if my phone has become corrupted? This would mean I could never reload the firmware.
    I don’t know how they could have made it any clearer *not* to update a modified phone.
    And before you label me as having Stockholm Syndrome, let me say I’m not happy about this either. I was using iToner (but no other hacks/unlocks) and now I am unable to use my own ringtones (which aren’t even songs, but sound effects I downloaded with the express point that they were created to be ringtones). But some of the other fixes were worth it to me, so I won’t try going back to 1.02.

  3. Leo,
    Apple having code to check the checksum is nice but really, is it their responsibility to test the phone to make sure you did not do anything to it first?
    However, I do think Apple should assist honest hackers with bringing the phone back from it’s bricked state instead of leaving it to the hacking community. For a charge of course. Maybe a $30 charge and they de-brick the phone for you. (in store only).
    I don’t think any of my pictures have that much blue in them.

  4. So are you still a journalist, because you seem to have completely lost your ability to be objective in regards to this update. All indications are that not only did Apple not intentionally brick unlocked phones, they did a lot of work to prevent any bricking.
    Before you go accusing me of being brainwashed, I’d like to point out that the iPhone is incredibly complicated and Apple has not worked out all of the software kinks. 1.1.1 is very different under the hood than 1.0.2, to the point of being almost a complete rewrite. The jailbreak and unlock software depend on software vulnerabilities in order to work, so if Apple fixes those bugs, of course the hacks will break. Normally, fixing bugs like that (the ones that can allow for arbitrary code injection and execution) in a timely manner is a good thing.
    Remember that it took Apple around nine years for OS X to become excellent. It will take Apple some time to make the iPhone OS similarly stable. If you think that OS development is easy, just ask Palm (Garnet is how old now) or Microsoft, which has been trying to make a decent mobile OS for what, 15 years now? Maybe you can explain why Apple making the iPhone OS more robust and secure is a bad thing for consumers?

  5. The Nokia picture looks like a sunset, and also kind of like a HDR image, and kind of surreal. It’s also kind of weird how un-blue the sky is.
    The iPhone, by comparison, looks like it was shot at dusk, after sunset, and has a much more natural looking blue sky.
    Which one’s better depends on how much air pollution &/or fog there is in Vancouver.
    (Irony note: Apple’s spell check thinks Nokia should be Nikon)

  6. I love my iPhone, but the onboard camera is garbage. Clearly the Nokia is exceptional. I have noticed the auto white balance on the iPhone sometimes doesn’t work very well, but I’m always carrying at least one other camera with me anyway. Still, if you’re in a pinch, I suppose the iPhone camera is better than no camera. But just barely.

  7. Seeing these two pictures I guess there is nothing more to be said – the N95 has a digital camera in it, the iPhone has a hole in the back.
    I mean, such a gorgeous display, but if I want some decent pictures to look at on it, I’d probably have to upload them as the integrated ‘camera’ surely cannot provide them.
    Oh, and come on – “Paul” is Scott Bourne and we all know it! 😉

  8. Oh, and it kind of sucks that your only counterpoint on your podcasts is Scott Bourne, who seems to hold Apple in some kind of religious reverence. Maybe you can get Erica Sadun on the next Macbreak Weekly or TWIT? It would be good to hear from someone who’s really in the trenches and has more or less universal respect.

  9. @Thomas: KMA
    Scott Bourne talks about legal threats and crap like that and is just as much under the impression that Apple intentionally bricked phones. I’m talking about technical reasons why bricking occurred and why Apple is not “currently” (Apple’s word choice BTW) allowing native development. Even Engadget doesn’t believe that Apple intentionally bricked any phones. All I’m suggesting is that instead of assuming things without any supporting evidence, Leo and Scott should act like actual journalists and talk to people who actually know things, like Erica or even Ryan Block. You think Scott Bourne could even bring himself to say that?

  10. {Disclaimer: I have not read up on much of this iPhone unlocking business… everything I know about this is from Leo’s podcasts and a few websites I read daily that cover mostly Mac stuff, so I may say things that are not factual}
    First, I like the Apple picture better, even though it’s not true to life and the resolution is obviously not going to be as good (since I think you said the Nokia has a 3MP advantage). To me, It’s a much more emotional and moody picture….but this is purely up to individual taste. The Nokia is “meh, I could have taken that with any camera”. But, I understand what you’re getting at.
    Second, while I understand the idea of why you’d want to unlock the phone, I must point out that since Apple’s not allowing unlocking (as per the EULA, according to you guys), why *would* they have to run a checksum on the modem firmware? They would have been the only people that have *touched* the modem, so they know with certainty what the modem *should* be at. To be honest, I’m not sure why you’d want to SIM unlock the phone unless you lived outside NA where there are actually more than 2 carriers anyway (since that’s the only reason to do a full unlock…..doing the part-way unlock doesn’t brick your phone, from what I understand)
    Third, I understand the drive to do all sorts of things to the iPhone to give it features that Apple hasn’t included yet and to change things you don’t like. But, Apple chose to make a closed platform that obviously is not *easy* to breach. They do this, I believe, primarily to ensure that the user experience is the same across all handsets–and that that experience is consistently good. I think that if you want an open phone, you go to some other company and buy their product. I believe that something as mission-critical as a phone *should* be a somewhat closed system, because I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer my phone be rock steady, rather than trust its stability to third party developers who can’t possibly test their software with every other piece of software (and other combinations of other software).
    I believe that the iPhone is a 1.0 product, and I believe that Apple is *going* to keep on improving this product (an SDK *will* be coming especially since Apple’s now seen all the interest in running 3rd party apps…you may think Apple’s stupid, but they’re not *that* stupid)–introducing new features and possibly opening up the platform a little bit as time goes on. If you are not patient enough to wait for this to happen or you don’t like the way Apple’s doing things, then you need to jump ship and get something else… I’m sure there’s something out there that will better suit what you want in a phone.
    One last thing…I have no evidence for or against this, but isn’t there a possibility that Apple didn’t sell the iPhone as an unlocked phone because
    1) it would cost even more, since Apple wouldn’t be able to recoup the R&D cost from both the phone and plans–it’d have to recoup the cost from the phone sales alone. If a BlackBerry is going for some $600 unlocked and has fewer features than the iPhone, and is not built by a “prestige” company, can you imagine how much an iPhone would cost?
    2) Is there not a chance that they *needed* a carrier to participate in order to get one of the killer features–visual voicemail–to become a reality? If this was an unlocked phone, would AT&T and Verizon just go “why the hell would I spend money making this if there’s only one handset that will use it?” (or more likely “okay, we’ll build this, but if you want it, that’s an extra $10 a month). And, I’m not sure about this, but up here in Canada, the plans are insane if you want unlimited data (in fact, unless I’m mistaken, you can’t even *get* unlimited data plans)…is it not possible that Apple convinced AT&T to invent a “special” iPhone plan? I hope that when the phone lands up here, Rogers will be offering a reasonably priced cell plan with it, since I’m not paying $300 or whatever a month just so I can use an iPhone, thankyouverymuch. I’d sooner duct tape an iPod Touch, my v3i, and my SD800IS together and call it a day.
    Sorry for going on so long, but I’ve had this bottled up for a while. Am I an Apple fanboy? Yes (except for when they stop making OS9-capable machines a couple years too early–that really pissed me off [I’m in IT in education…so you can understand why it takes us so long to move to X–I still have a few schools that don’t have the money to do this]). Am I a jealous Canadian who is sick of hearing Americans bicker about the (what I consider) minor downfalls to a device I think is AWESOME but I can’t buy and use without jumping through hoops? Abso-fricken-loutley, eh. Do I love and respect basically everything Leo does? Yes. Do I think that Leo’s blowing this whole thing way out of proportion (possibly because he’s pissed at Scott Bourne for being so dismissive)? Yes. Calm down, Leo. It’s not good for your health.
    iPhone? Awesome…but it’s just a phone. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it… buy something else or wait until Apple fixes what you don’t like about it.

  11. What I have not seen in all the discussion is anyone bringing up the fact that Apple evidently has limited programming resources.
    After all, Leopard was pushed back six months in order for those programmers to finish the iPhone. Presumably after the iPhone shipped, the bulk of those programmers moved back to Leopard.
    Could the problem with the update be related to lack of resources? Maybe that combined with the knowledge that unlocked phones threatened not just AT&T but all of Apple’s cell partners worldwide made them more likely to want to send a message.
    Perhaps there’s no single reason why the update bricked phones. I think too often people come up with explanations for events that are too simplistic and based on little to no actual inside knowledge.
    It’s all just speculation.

  12. Either the 100 rebate has falsely caused Leo to think that Apple should care or Leo intentionally threw a wrench in this debate to ruffle our feathers.

  13. That doesn’t gel with this third party developer who had this to say:
    I’m frustrated, honestly. With iToner, we worked very, very hard to make sure we did things the right way. We didn’t hack into the phone at all, we didn’t “jailbreak” it – we used the same APIs that iTunes uses to put files on the iPhone, and we put those ringtones in the user area of the phone. This is why iToner ringtones survived OS updates.
    Then Apple rolled out their iTunes music store sale of ringtones… and they broke iToner. The way they broke it seemed excessive, but understandable from a programming point of view, so we rapidly came out with a fix. The first few weeks of iToner’s life was nothing but coffee, code, and sleepless nights for people here at Ambrosia, so as such, sure, it’s frustrating that it’s broken yet again.
    We’re not putting anything but data on the iPhone, and we’re doing it in the right way, and we’re putting it in the user area of the iPhone. Apple is intentionally making sure that products like ours don’t work. That I think is a mistake – it’s as if in an iPhone OS update, Apple decided that MP3s you got from ripping a CD should no longer play on your iPhone, and you should instead buy them from their store.
    ::Before you go accusing me of being brainwashed, I’d like to point out that the iPhone is incredibly complicated and Apple has not worked out all of the software kinks. 1.1.1 is very different under the hood than 1.0.2, to the point of being almost a complete rewrite. The jailbreak and unlock software depend on software vulnerabilities in order to work, so if Apple fixes those bugs, of course the hacks will break. Normally, fixing bugs like that (the ones that can allow for arbitrary code injection and execution) in a timely manner is a good thing.

  14. No contest the Nokia picture wins hands down. The iPhone must not be too happy it has a serious case of the blues.

  15. I dig your shows and netcasts, love your point of view! Sucks that you’ve lost interest in the iPhone, but you must see alot of cool stuff, and the nokia pic looks amazing! What other things can it do? P.s. Scott is cool because even though I disagree, he is who he is and not some “Leo yesman” anyway hello from Australia 🙂

  16. I’ll keep this short:
    As customers of Apple we can do one of two things:
    1. We can stop buying the products that do not have the features we need, namely the ability to “unlock” the phone.
    2. We can do what many EU nations have done which is make it illegal to sell locked cell phones in the US.

  17. I agree with leo.
    One thing I’d like to point out, however, is that I think everyone in the medias is getting a little crazy with the expression “bricking”.
    Re-locking your phone is not “bricking”. As you know very well, brick means you can’t do anything with your device at all, you can’t fix it. It becomes a brick.
    So while I’m very critical of apple, I think there is blog/media hysteria going on.

  18. i already written an email to the giz wiz(es), asking:why does no one talk about the nokia e90? what should i buy? iphone or e90?
    but seeing on the pure mass of comments here: emailing to any wiz is rather pointless *gg*
    greetings from germany 🙂

  19. p.p.s. On the apple iPhone page there is a part for “tell us your iPhone story” I wonder what great stories they have “waited in line forever, paid insane roaming fees, watched the iphone price/nerd tax drop, watched everyone i know buy cheaper iphones then unlock them, see them get more signal than me, watch them install neat free apps. Only to have apple brick my non unlocked phone!” that’s enough to have a man love a nokia 🙂

  20. Apple doesn’t live in a vacuum. They had to be aware of all of the unlock methods and had to test all of them with the new firmware, since a primary function of the new firmware was to stop unlocking.
    There is a principle in tort law regarding negligence that is often referred to as ‘the duty to trespassers’.
    While a property owner is not bound to exercise care or diligence to keep his premises in repair for trespassers, he does owe the duty, even to such persons, not to suffer them to receive harm. For the owner, with the knowledge that a person is in danger of harm from fault of his, would show wanton or reckless disregard for the person’s safety.
    Now, I know that battery against a person and battery against an iPhone are two very different things. Nonetheless, Apple had the knowledge and information to prevent the damage before it happened — by more than a mere verbal warning. To not have done so is to show wanton or reckless disregard for another person’s property.

  21. I wonder if, coz the 3rd party developers are so mad (not letting them do anything for the iPhone) that they will use there free time to write virus’s for the mac instead. *Worries*

  22. Seriously Leo, I find it interesting that you can be so dead sure about that it would only take a checksum to prevent this from happening. Managing the upgrade cycle for embedded software is far from trivial, even without people changing low level things in the platform. I think the most likely explanation was that they were pressed for time and needed to get this update out of the door and just couldn’t find a safe upgrade and decided to go with what they’d got at the time. If I remember correctly, the WiFi store was pushed with this update. Would it really be in Apple’s interest to hold of that functionality for the “regular” users who didn’t hack their phone just to try to find a safe upgrade path for the minority?

  23. I still don’t see how you entering into a contract to use software according to the terms stated, intentionally violating that contract and as a result losing the ability to use the software that you broke the contract over equates into “Apple intentionally [damaging] unlocked iPhones.” The logic in your argument simply doesn’t compute.
    I’m sorry you disagree with their policy, but you should have disagree prior to signing the contract. After joining into the agreement, willfully violating it and hoping to get away with it, you really no longer have the right to complain. You knew it would happen, you knew it went against the software agreement and you still didn’t.
    Apple has no obligation to continue allowing you to use software once you have broken your agreement with them. That’s simply the way business in capitalistic societies works.

  24. The Nokia is a better exposure. The White Balance on the iPhone is too cool. Plus it’s slightly underexposed. If the WB was warmed up it might open up the detail in the lower portion of the pic.

  25. @naum: A link to the TUAW article would have sufficed. In any case, Ambrosia used an undocumented iTunes API to get ringtones onto the iPhone. And he’s right, iToner did leave the ringtones in the phones userland, which is why they’re still there, just inaccessible. That’s the problem you face when your software depends on reverse engineering (read: hacking) undocumented stuff or bugs that could change or be fixed without warning or notice. However, Apple did give both warning and notice and the results were expected by everyone, including Leo.
    Don’t forget that Leo refused to unlock his own phone because he figured that Apple would break it and potentially brick the phone. That’s why the phone that he did unlock was a freebie from a listener.
    Again, since its fairly obvious that none of the people who are accusing Apple of screwing their customers by evilly bricking phones are leet firmware hackers, Leo needs to get Erica on a show to talk about what’s really going on.

  26. Of course the next update was going to brick the hacked phones – anybody who didn’t expect that is naive in the extreme.
    I see now Leo that you had the sense not to apply the update – so why are you so p1ssed off? You still have an unlocked phone – it still works – you can still add 3rd party apps? I think we might have to start calling you dvorak. Stop with the whining – your clearly very fickle anyway so its no surprise you are now looking at other phones again – you do the same with websites twitter, jaiku, pownce yada yada yada. Leo you’re a great broadcaster, but you’re no technology expert.

  27. There’s a very good reason why the N95 is being used in small-scale UAV systems to collect imagery from altitude. I mean, besides that it also has GPS capability.
    The only problem I have with the N95’s sensor though, is that it has a tendency to blow-out the high values (whites). Otherwise, the color-balance / radiometry is the most accurate on the market.

  28. Hi Leo,
    which “tags” plugin are you using? And does it work with WordPress 2.3?
    You and your twit-network rock and so does my non-clicky keyboard 😉
    Greetings from Germany,

  29. I really love watching the iphone soap opera ensue. I’m so glad I’ve gotten to watch all this happen before it’s released here (Germany). It’s not predicted to do well anyways with it’s slow data and inability to offer most features people here in Europe are used to having for a few years now. I still know it’s initial infatuation will cause good sales and buzz but I feel it’ll die off quickly when people realize they can’t do video calls and their browsing slows to a crawl.
    I’m glad Leo has finally come to his senses and sees through how this is not the one phone for everyone. I use a mac and pc, also an ipod but does that mean I have to use an iphone? Heck no! I’m not in the “cult of apple” and can call a turd a turd when I see it. Unlocked, open , up to date data transfer and a bit smaller in size and price and I may give it a go. Until that day, and I won’t hold my breath I’ll stick with my sek810i and continue enjoying current technology for data and a nice cybershot camera.

  30. Previously posted on the Cow blog:How about this, you buy a cow with the expresses purpose of making Milk, the farmer supplies you with a vaccine to keep the milk that comes out of the cow pure and tasty, but that vaccine has a side affect if you try to make cheese. you choose to make cheese so you have to stop using the vaccine or the cow will suffer from the side affect.

  31. Leo,
    On the locked iPhone just email the photo to Flickr.
    Works fine for me, even on Edge.
    On Flickr, Look under Your Account: Email, Your Flickr upload email. You might have to enable it first if you haven’t done so.

  32. Leo, you can use your cow to make cheese against the agreement you had when you bought it, but how can you expect to let it keep grazing on the original owners pastures?
    Mod your iPhone and don’t try updating and you’ll be fine.
    If you try to take advantage of the work Apple is doing to improve their system after you’ve already decided to renege on your agreement with them, how can you claim Apple is wrong? The update isn’t a push, it’s a pull. I can’t really empathize with someone who criticizes someone else for not taking the high road if they don’t take the high road themselves.

  33. @Anthony:
    You missed a key phrase in Leo’s post…
    …”uploading these images in **full quality**”.
    One tap email is nice but it resizes the photo…
    >>On the locked iPhone just email the photo to Flickr.

  34. @naum
    ah, thanks
    I haven’t investigated that because what it uploads has been more than enough for my moblogging purposes.

  35. Hi Leo,
    Unfortunately some commentors here are not only deluded by RDF, but also clinically blind from all that radiation.
    But never mind that. I love my unlocked iPhone all the way here in Singapore and I have Erica Sadun to thank for that (and also my boss who kindly brought one back from the States post price-cut, more on that later.). And I completely understand why you feel this way about the whole Apple iPhone saga, even though I am no less psyched to be using this awesome phone (unlocked 1.0.2 firmware with the works, thank you).
    I believe the root of your odd bovine analogy was the emotional distress that manifested as a result of Apple’s recent uncontrollable urge to royally screw their most loyal customers over. From crippling iPod touches to bricking iPhones, the fun doesn’t end.
    Let me list all of the recent “Apple screw you”s to counter the intense RDF on this page:
    – iPhone brickings that could have been prevented with simple firmware checks as mentioned by Leo. Any programmer can tell you that this is trivially simple to implement.
    – iPhone with a recessed headphone jack. Can anyone say Made for iPhone accessories?
    – Legacy iPod video cables not working anymore with new iPods for no apparent technical reason at all, but several profitable reasons.
    – iPod Touch calendar does not allow addition of new entries. They actually went through the trouble to cripple the iPhone version just so iPod Touch users have a more obvious upgrade path.
    – iPod games not working cross generations of iPods. Itching for Sudoku? Now, again, for a fantastic price of $4.99! Never mind you paid for it before. Now you have the great opportunity to pay for it again! Twice the fun!
    – Ginormous price cut on iPhones after two months. I love this one since I bought it after the drop. But understandably, some nerds-in-denial are fuming that they have been unceremoniously subjected to the nerd-tax.
    – Bricking iToner and then to sell you the privilege to use the songs you already own as ringtones.
    – iPhone is released locked with no possibility of unlocking. The usual refrain to this is that the “killer app” Visual Voicemail necessitates collaboration with the devil. Seriously? Visual Voicemail is the thing you can’t do without amidst all the wonderful stuff already on the iPhone and 3rd party stuff to boot. And the explanation that the iPhone needs AT&T to be successfully launched is rubbish too. Apple, the preeminent marketer of the 21st century, needs AT&T to launch a product? Seriously?
    And of course some of the irradiated might say that Apple is a listed-business, with bottom-lines and shareholders to take care of. Since we bought these things on our own accords knowing full well what the terms were, naturally, they don’t owe us anything. Caveat Emptor. Yet, we aren’t arguing about what Apple *must* do here, are we? We are arguing what Apple *should* do. Since we’re consumers, we logically would like Apple to stop royally screwing consumers. And we all know what happens when you make a habit of royally screwing consumers for a living – you become an over-inflated corporate, then you produce Vista.

  36. Leo
    You are right on!
    Whether Apple was within its’ rights to brick iPhones is very different from whether they should have. I think Apple made a poor choice.
    It seems Apple is making a bunch of poor choices / mistakes lately (iPhone pricing, bad iPod touch screens, bad iPhone screens, iMacs freezing up, handling of ringtones, NBC / Universal dustup, etc.).
    I think Apple is experiencing growing pains.
    I hope Apple comes out with an Amnesty program – a bricked (hobbled) iPhone is a terrible thing.

  37. Thank you Leo,
    I just updated my blog to 2.3 and I’m happy with it.
    Had to disable the “redirect_canonical” and don’t even know why, but now everything works like a charme.
    Wordpress is really a great tool.
    Have a nice day and don’t play too much Halo3, because we need you to do the netcasting thing 😉

  38. I think the Nokia picture is much better than the Iphone. I still like the Iphone overall but it seems a case of a little too little too late. No bluetooth stereo, GPS, replacable battery, memory card slot, open applications, etc. I have been looking at a lot of upgrades for my aging PPC-6700 and have pretty much decided on the newly released ATT Tilt from HTC. Has all the above and more.

  39. Yeah, shame on Apple for forcing those hacked iPhones into updating to 1.1.1 without warning what could/would happen first!
    Oh, wait…

  40. I want to start makes some comments that are constructive. Instead, I wade in on 1.1.1. 2 thoughts. 1. Language as art – far too many people are just talking out loud, refining what the have to say and becoming more attached to their argument than what was going on. 2. I was going to make Dan Gruber’s point, perhaps more succinctly – Apple never promised openness, Apple warned you, and you had to click the update you button, killing the cow. A fitting end to language as art.

  41. First, I prefer the Nokia picture.
    Second, well I am changing my tune and must say that Leo, after your explanations of your cow comment, I understand your position, you are right.
    One thing that I have always thought about this hack thing is that it’s not so much about the iPhone but about the limitations that cell phone companies feel that they are obligated to put on us (I’m a Verizon customer/sucker) and the innovation of the users to bypass said limitations.
    Apple could have and should have handled this differently and I hope that they see the errors in their decision.

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