Will Apple destroy all hacked iPhones?

[intro]The web is alive with rumours that Apple intends to brick all hacked iPhones with a software update. Surely not[/intro] So, rumours are rife

[intro]The web is alive with rumours that Apple intends to brick all hacked iPhones with a software update. Surely not[/intro]

So, rumours are rife that Apple's next iPhone update - due next week and likely to include the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store - will also block all hacked iPhones. Or worse, it might even lock all functions and turn them into useless - if rather beautiful - bricks.

Memo to self: don't install the next iPhone update.

The rumours follow Steve Jobs' slightly confused warning at the iPhone's UK launch ('this is a constant cat-and-mouse game that we play... we try to stay a step ahead... are we the cat or the mouse? ...people are going to break in and we're going to try to keep them from breaking in' - see it for yourself in our video coverage of the iPhone UK launch.)

However, I'm glad to report that Phil Schiller, Apple's veep of product marketing, has denied that the company plans to actively attack hacked iPhones. "This has nothing to do with proactively disabling a phone that is unlocked or hacked," Schiller said, "It's unfortunate that some of these programs have caused damage to the iPhone software, but Apple cannot be responsible for ... those consequences."

So, it seems that Apple is claiming that the unlocking software itself may 'brick' the iPhone. Having struggled for hours to fully unlock my imported iPhone, it's easy to believe that the online exploits could potentially crash it. But it's harder to believe they could totally destroy it. Could this, perchance, be a scare tactic?

I'm convinced Apple will patch the hole that allows iPhones to be unlocked, and I'm equally convinced that hackers will eventually find some way around it. The lure of new features - particularly downloadable games and improved applications (even Outlook support?) - may be enough to make me take a risk and install new updates.  But if Apple were to actively attempt to destroy my iPhone... then I will fight them with every last ounce of... oh, wait my battery's running below 10%. Better switch to the Touch.