You may own an iPhone, but you don't really own an iPhone. It's not yours to do whatever you want. So says Apple, which according to reports is now denying service to iPhone buyers who have hacked or modified the device software. According to ifoAppleStore, Apple retail locations are turning away consumers with iPhones hacked either to add third-party apps or to operate via networks other than operator partner AT&T. On Monday afternoon, Apple issued a brief but stern warning to consumers that reads in part "Apple has discovered that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installedâ€¦ Users who make unauthorized modifications to the software on their iPhone violate their iPhone software license agreement and void their warranty. The permanent inability to use an iPhone due to installing unlocking software is not covered under the iPhone's warranty."
Apple's finger-wagging isn't likely to win many friends in the developer community or in the consumer population, especially given recent comments by CEO Steve Jobs, who has suggested the company will proactively counteract iPhone unlocking efforts. "It's a cat-and-mouse game," Jobs said. "We have a lot of really good cats." But some iPhone owners are already rebelling--at the iPhone MattersÂ website, consumers are declaring they simply won't update their devices for fear of losing their hacks. While Apple's statement promises this week's software update will include new features including the iTunes WiFi Music Store, one poster responds "[Updating] will take a lot more than the iTunes store and that Starbucks thing. T-Mobile and the ability to email and store any kind of file I felt like were the reasons I jumped ship in the first place but it would take a lot more than that to get me back. It's principal [sic] now." Apparently Jobs has never seen an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon--if he had, he might know just how cunning and ruthless mice can be. -Jason