What's that? You made the iPhone work on T-Mobile? Awesome!
Well, for now, at least.
Yesterday, The Associated Press reported that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) is working on a software update for the iPhone that, when implemented, could render inoperable handsets that have been made to work with networks other than AT&T's (NYSE: T ) .
AT&T is Apple's exclusive network partner here in the U.S. Overseas, Deutsche Telekom's (NYSE: DT ) T-Mobile has Germany, while Telefonica's (NYSE: TEF ) O2 gets the U.K. and France Telecom's (NYSE: FTE ) Orange gets France.
Apple Vice President Phil Schiller denied that the forthcoming update is an attempt to shut down hackers. Quoting:
This has nothing to do with proactively disabling a phone that is unlocked or hacked. It's unfortunate that some of these programs have caused damage to the iPhone software, but Apple cannot be responsible [for those consequences].
How I'd love to believe that. Here's the problem: Apple has a history of vigorously resisting attempts to open up its products. Just ask former Mac cloners Power Computing and Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) . Or, for that matter, anyone who'd like to play an iTunes song on anything other than an iPod.
I won't argue that's bad policy. To the contrary, I can't name a tech firm that's done more with a closed system than Apple has. I just wonder, given its history, why anyone would be surprised to see the iEmpire stiff-arm iPhone hackers.
It was only a matter of time.