Apple’s iPhone hacker dilema

Everyone has heard about Apple’s threats regarding unlocked iPhones. On Monday, Apple issued this statement “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 installed.”

I’m sure this will scare off some people that had considered unlocking their phone. In my case, I have to admit that I was thinking about getting an iPhone now that they can be unlocked, but I’ve put that on hold for now.

It will be very interesting to see if Apple really even continues to pursue this tactic. On the one hand, they must have At&T/Cingular breathing down their neck about it, buton the other hand, just as Microsoft benefited tremendously from all the illegal copies of Windows flying about, one part of Apple must want to encourage the hacking.

It’s not a matter of what can Apple do, contractually, or legally. It’s a matter of what will the costs be if they burn too many people, or the wrong people, and really do cause iPhones to become “permanently inoperable” and refuse to fix them. Apple depends on their standing and reputation. Once they stop being “cool” they will have a hard time getting new customers on product features alone.