My conspiracy theory – expect an iPhone update with new features soon - Macenstein

My conspiracy theory – expect an iPhone update with new features soon

Posted by Dr. Macenstein

According to Engadget, the iPhone was officially unlocked today. A rag-tag group of rebels over at were able to unlock the iPhone’s SIM to work on any carrier, freeing it from AT&T’s shackles. Apparently, this “hack” is the real deal, as even an iPhone restore doesn’t cause a problem. Yet while this is the news many iPhone hold-outs have been waiting to hear, I am a little hesitant to endorse T-Mobile customers rushing out and plopping down $600 on an iPhone.

I am a big conspiracy theory buff, so let me preface this by saying this is pure speculation, and I am likely insane, but I think there is a very real chance those people could be wasting money, and here’s why.

As popular as the iPhone is, and as hyped as it is, there are still a couple basic features that everyone thinks it should have, things $100 phones have had for a year or more. While their omission at launch baffled many phone enthusiasts and the tech media in general, the iPhone has seen two software updates in 2 months, yet nothing but minor bugs appear to have been addressed. No major feature update has hit the iPhone yet.

Why is that?

Well, what if (and this could be the whiskey talking), what if Apple was waiting until someone unlocked the iPhone before releasing such an update? What if they now design (or have designed) a way to make sure that only AT&T customers could update their iPhones and add these features? Or, what if you need to update iTunes in order to get the cool new features, and the iTunes update detects your carrier? You would be stuck at the current software versions indefinitely.

I am not saying Apple would necessarily “brick” an unlocked iPhone, but what if, by unlocking your iPhone, you will be perpetually stuck with iPhone 1.0.2 software, and iTunes 7.3.2 on your computer? Apple would be under no obligation to customers who decide to unlock their iPhones, as those user agreements we all clicked through made it clear you are not supposed to mess with the iPhone, and more than likely Apple IS under an obligation to AT&T to do their darndest to keep their part of the AT&T exclusivity deal.

As I said, this is just a theory, born from boredom and my desire to see Apple come out with a feature-packed iPhone update. Odds are I am just desperately looking at the iPhone’s unlocking as a potential impetus for Apple to deliver some of the iPhone’s “missing” features. This is one of those “time will tell” scenarios that I think we shall not have long to wait to see the outcome of. Given the iPhone’s hype, Apple and AT&T will have to address the issue via an official press release soon, and I predict AT&T will be somewhat insistent that Apple do something. As a “legitimate” iPhone owner (I don’t consider adding a ringtone or two with iFuntastic a real violation of the iPhone’s TOS), I am hoping Apple’s response comes in the form of an update.

10 Responses to “My conspiracy theory – expect an iPhone update with new features soon”
  1. eBooksBay says:

    I like your theory, unf. i’m in Europe and have not an iPhone yet.
    I belive too that Apple soon or later will release such an update and lock the iPhone again.

  2. Kuhndog says:

    well that’s what sony did with the PSP.. every time they would find a way to run homebrew on it… sony would patch the hole and add a new feature.. the first PSP firmware didn’t even include a web browser.. look at what it does now..

  3. Dave Koss says:

    WOW! You hit the nail on the head. Not 5 minutes after writing this article ..
    I read yours. Great minds think alike!

  4. hereiznoy says:

    Not a half-bad theory. Honestly, so many phones have been unlocked these days that Apple/ATT would have to have been delusional to think they could prevent the iPhone from being unlocked. The only other reasonable alternative to enforcing use on the ATT network seems to be what you are suggesting.

  5. Walt French says:

    Let’s separate Apple’s contractual obligations to AT&T from broader paranoia.

    Any unlocked iPhones were bought by Apple customers and Apple has an interest in keeping them happy as well as fulfilling their exclusive deal with AT&T. If the iPhone mods are as severe as what I read, only a tiny fraction of users will do it, and AT&T shouldn’t be troubled by losing 0.01% market share, especially if they lose maybe 10% to the bad vibes that might emanate if Apple caused its customer base to lose functionality / flexibility that they reasonably wanted.

  6. hereiznoy says:

    Also, unlock the iPhone, and void your warranty. Sounds more like a good day for Apple. An unlocked iPhone dies – Apple or AT&T racks up another sale. Cha ching.

  7. There is actually evidence against this theory. Software that lets you modify the iPhone’s system by adding ringtones and the like has been around for at least one update cycle, maybe even two. Nothing has been done to prevent those modifications from continuing to work.

    Yes, you have to install them again because they are made to the system software which has been erased and replaced with the updated stuff. But nothing has been done to prevent you from updating your phone again.

    So why don’t we have feature updates yet? Simple. The iPhone development team has been very busy fixing stability problems and the most nagging customer complaints. They also need to get some beauty sleep after working so hard through the launch to get this thing running.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see a major feature update in the next month or so but not because they’re scared of the 100-odd customers who are modding and unlocking. I think they know the modders and unlockers are some of their most loyal and excited customers.

    It’s quite probable that many of the modders and unlockers will introduce the device to their less involved friends, and therefore sell quite a few phones — with AT&T plans built right in.


  8. GlowingApple says:

    If the unlock is purely software-based I would assume it would be fully reversible. Worst case scenario the user could re-lock the phone to AT&T, and then do a restore before running the update. Apple could block unlocking the new firmware, but as with any software hack, another will surely be found (Kuhndog hits the nail on the head with this idea). Of course with the current unlock we’re reliant upon iPhoneSimFree to keep up to date with the hack.

    Short of bricking the phone (IMO, they’d have to block any access to the filesystem to even iTunes to ensure that the phone couldn’t be “fixed” by a hack), I would say whatever Apple does (should they try to block unlocking) will only delay the ability to update for an unlocked iPhone, not block it completely.

  9. kneemoe says:

    So let me get this straight, you violated the TOS by hacking ringtones onto your iPhone, yet somehow you’re a ‘legitimate’ iPhone owner and those of us that didn’t fall for the ‘you have to sign up with NSA, i mean AT&T to use this’ aren’t?

  10. Kneemore-


    But I think you might be the only one who thinks there is no difference between adding ringtones to a phone and changing the software it shipped with to run on other networks.

    -the Doc

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