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.

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