So either Apple is intentionally bricking the phone, or their engineers haven’t heard of checksums.
Oh this is a hard one…
Apple’s claim that “unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone’s software” is a blatant lie if you use the common sense definition of damage. Apple, of course, is using a different definition of damage: any change to the iPhone software that Apple doesn’t like is considered damage.
In any case, I doubt Apple has intentionally engineered the update to brick any iPhones. According to the iPhone Dev Team, there have been several hundred thousand downloads of the iPhone unlocking software. There’s no way of knowing exactly how many people have actually unlocked their iPhones, but I estimate it’s tens of thousands. Imagine the PR fallout from the iPhone price drop. Now double that… and mix in some lawsuits.
The only way Apple could unintentionally brick any iPhones is if they’re doing a diff patch of the baseband firmware without verifying that the original firmware hasn’t been modified. I doubt they’re doing a diff patch, but we’ll find out later this week when Apple releases the update.
As far as the “you changed the firmware” issues. That’s a load of crap. Yeah, you changed the firmware. So what? There is no great universal mystery about firmware. It’s just code, and under almost any other circumstances (translation – the rest of the world outside of Apple), can be reloaded to just start over. If it can be changed to be hacked, it can be changed to be reset back to normal.
Firmware is not magic.
Update: The iPhone software 1.1.1 update is out. According to early reports an unlocked iPhone will revert to being locked and inactivated with no way to reactivate with any SIM. The update also wipes out 3rd party applications.