Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The ‘Un’ in ‘Unsupported’

John Gruber:

With software, though, the constraints are invisible and arbitrary. The limitations regarding what is and is not supported are issues of won’t rather than can’t. Right now, today, Apple could choose to support, either officially or tacitly, the development and installation of third-party iPhone software. They have chosen not to.

3 Comments

As usual, Gruber in his evangelism gets it a bit wrong.

The real issue is that a lot of people have the sneaking suspicion Apple is bricking the phones intentionally. They could just zero out the entire phone on the upgrade and reset the firmware to a native state. If hackers can figure out how to unbrick phones, then Apple can too.

It may just be that they don't want to do this for some technical reason. But that just isn't as convincing. It is one thing to be unsupported, it is another to punish people for doing something unsupported and that is why people are feeling uneasy.

The real issue is that a lot of people have the sneaking suspicion Apple is bricking the phones intentionally. They could just zero out the entire phone on the upgrade and reset the firmware to a native state.

The second sentence is not a foregone logical conclusion from the first. Let's, for the sake of argument, give Apple the benefit of the doubt and say that they haven't done this on purpose.

Could they zero out the entire phone and reset it to the clean state? Probably. But this would going out of their way to *support* the user who did unsupported things, which is entirely Gruber's point.

Let's look at Mac OS X as a parallel example. If you make unsupported modifications to a base OS install, could a software update undo them? Sure, it could, but it doesn't, because that would involve a huge matrix of possibilities of "undo", or packing the entire OS into the software update, rendering it no longer an update.

hey Anon,
I've added some hacks to OS X in the past and software updates have whacked them and even had a SU disable printer sharing, so this has happened in the past.

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