Imagine if a major automobile manufacturer came up with a way to use an onboard computer to require that you buy gasoline from a particular company. It's the same gas you can buy anywhere, but unless the pump includes special circuitry only available to a single company that paid a bunch of money to the car's manufacturer for the privilege, the gas tank can't be filled. Now let's say that an enterprising individual wants to choose his own gas station, so he comes up with a way to reprogram the car's computer, allowing the owner to fill the gas tank from any pump at any gas station. Let's finally suppose that there's a recall on the car, requiring owners to bring them into a dealership for free repairs, but while the car is being fixed, every dealer is required to check the fuel tank computer to make sure it hasn't been tampered with to allow gas from non-approved sources, and disable the car's engine if evidence of tampering is found. When irate owners complain to dealership management they're simply told that a license agreement they agreed to by driving off the lot voids the car's warranty, and another on a piece of paper they signed to get the recall work done allows the dealership to modify the car in whatever way the manufacturer wants, so basically there's nothing they can do.
It sounds like a ludicrous situation, but it's not as far fetched as it may seem at first. Replace the word car with mobile phone, and choosing your own gas station with choosing your own wireless provider, and you've got something that looks a lot like Apple's apparent plan for the iPhone. Earlier this week Apple announced a major update to the iPhone. Unfortunately for iPhone owners who have unlocked their phones to use them on networks other than AT&T, the update will also cause their phones to cease working at all. The phones appear to be in the same pre-activation state as when they're new, but they can't be actived with a non-AT&T SIM (which requires the phone to be unlocked) or the original AT&T SIM that came with the phone.
Additionally, iPhones that have been hacked to allow unauthorized third party software to be installed will be modified, although they won't stop working. Instead, all software not specifically allowed by Apple simply disappears.
An announcement from Apple did make it clear that software for unlocking the phones "will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed." When asked for clarification, an Apple representative stated that the company is not "proactively trying to disable any iPhone that has been hacked or unlocked by software," However, this seems to contradict a statement made by CEO Steve Jobs last week. At a London press conference officially announcing the iPhone's availability in the UK he said “It’s a cat and mouse game. We play it on iPods with DRM. We try to stay ahead. I’m not sure if we are the cat or the mouse. People will try to break in, and it’s our job to stop them breaking in.”
Despite the contradictory company statements, one major clue seems to stand out. Although the unlocked phones become inactive after the update, and can't even be used on AT&T's network, they can still make emergency (911) calls, as mandated by the FCC. In other words, the one thing that would have ensured a government investigation if it didn't work is the only thing that does. Though this certainly doesn't prove anything conclusively, it does raise legitimate questions that someone in the government should be asking.
Unless it can be proven that Apple is intentionally targeting unlocked iPhones with their updates, consumers have little or no recourse. If, however, a government investigation were to find that this is exactly what Apple is doing, it would drag the practices of tech companies like Apple (and many others) into the light for the kind of public scrutiny most other industries face.
If the scenario were truly one of an automobile manufacturer getting paid to ensure their cars only accepted gas from a single company there would be hearings in Congress starting next week. If it was determined to be legal, you can be sure a law would quickly be passed to outlaw it. Instead, since it's computer technology, which to paraphrase author Arthur C. Clarke seems indistinguishable from magic to lawmakers, the public appears to be left to their own devices for solving the problem.
A warranty that's void because of tampering with a device is fairly standard and certainly legal, although perhaps morally questionable when it comes to simple software modifications. Taking advantage of that to break legally purchased devices because their use runs counter to the manufacturer's business model isn't standard. If this is, in fact, Apple's strategy it also removes any questions about the plans immorality. If they want to keep their grip on the mobile device market apparently considered key to the company's future plans, they'd be well advised to consider all their customers, including the ones who think their $400 phone should work on any compatible network they choose.
A New York woman was so upset about Apple Inc.'s decision to cut a large $200 from the 8GB iPhone price, and drop the 4GB model completely, that she has filed a lawsuit against the company alleging violation of price discrimination laws. Dongmei LiL of Queens is seeking $1 million in damages over the company's decision to make such drastic price reduction within a few short months of the items launch.
Hundreds of early adopters complained about such a sudden price reduction. Those who bought an 8GB iPhone at $599 in the two weeks before the price cut were offered the $200 back as a refund, and for all of those that purchased the iPhone earlier, the company offered up $100 credit for Apple stores.
According to Li's complaint, the price cut injured customers like her because they cannot resell the product for the same profit as those who bought the iPhone following the price cut. As an owner of a 4GB iPhone model, Li claims that owners of the $499 model were given less favorable terms than those who bought the 8GB model at the premium price.
The lawsuit also alleges that Apple and AT&T are taking part in unfair business practices with the required 2-year service contract for the iPhone
The latest round of lawsuits to hit the Cupertino California based Apple include an interesting angle from studies performed by Greenpeace, the environmental group. Their studies show that the plastics used in Apple's iPhone contain a reproductive toxin and carcinogenic known as phthalates.
According to California's Proposition 65, products containing reproductive toxins must either be taken off the market or issued with a warning label stating they can potentially cause cancer. This lawsuit and report stems from studies on the plastics used in the vinyl plastic earphone wiring.
"This isn't a toy. But the overall exposure of the public in general is a problem, especially for children," said Rick Hind, legislative director for Greenpeace's toxics campaign. "It's a reproductive hazard. It could be a kidney hazard."
Apple has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit and has yet to comment on the issues at hand. This lawsuit comes at a time when Apple was just jumping on the environmental bandwagon. Earlier they had faced issues with Trillium Asset Management in which they were persuaded to produce a company wide environmental policy.
customers who suck on the earphone wiring were going to end up with something nasty one day, you cant suck on random things without suffering a freddy mercury style end, its a small price to pay for more flexible plastic in the earphone wires.
According to a new study performed by Gfk NOP, the Apple iPhone is perceived to be too expensive in the UK, and that most will not purchase due to the high price.
The research, a poll of 500 UK citizens suggested that outside of the "Apple cult" fans, the regular consumer will not be buying the device. Actually, according to the survey, a remarkable 72% said they would not be buying the device because of the price.
Brand awareness, as could be expected, was very strong, with 75% saying they've heard of the brand. 30% said the one and only deterrent from buying the device was the price.
"Apple’s history proves that it has the magic touch when it comes to product development and marketing, however the iPhone has yet to Capture the imagination of the UK public. iPhone hype is in full-force, but our data shows that it is very much a considered purchase, with its high price turning many consumers off. We must take into account that the UK mobile market’s success has been down to subsidised handsets, therefore the iPhone’s price really stands out and consumers are not used to paying in excess of £200 for a phone”, Richard Jameson of GfK NOP commented.
theres a shock