Home Your Tech Mobility Jobs confirms iPhone kill switch REAL!

Jobs confirms iPhone kill switch REAL!

Uh-oh... that iPhone software “kill switch” news which broke last week and was then said to be a blacklist for Core Location services turns out to be real, confirmed by Steve Jobs himself in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, App Store sales are totally “boom”-ing...

Boom! iPhone software sales should reach US $360 million dollars this year, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggesting “this thing’s going to crest half a billion, soon” and could reach “$1b billion... at some point in time” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Jobs says 60 million downloads have occured so far, and while many are free apps, over US $30m has been generated so far - little more than a month after the App Store went live. Multiply that $30m by twelve months, realise that thousands more apps are yet to come, and you can easily see why Jobs thinks US $500m is possible soon, and $1b after that.

Boom! That iPhone kill switch which could delete software from your iPhone? It’s real – Jobs confirmed to the WSJ that “such a capability exists” in case Apple “inadvertently allows a malicious program” to be distributed through the App Store.

Jobs is quoted saying: "Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull.”

Hmm... what would computer users say if Microsoft installs a “kill switch” into Windows Vista? Or its mobile smartphones? Or if Nokia did the same?

Will the outrage that erupted after the initial discovery of the “kill switch” now reach stratospheric heights, or will Apple fanbois declare it’s all “ok” because it’s Apple and we can trust them?

Will the iPhone Dev Team now seek to delete this “kill switch” from future pwned versions of iPhone firmware, thus giving even more people a reason to pwn their iPhones?

The case for an “iPhwn” over an “iPhone” looks stronger and stronger with this latest “revelation” from Jobs himself!

After all, what’s to stop Apple from “killing” all the pwned phones in existence right now? I’m not a developer so I don’t know.

But the prospect that Apple could pwn users right back, users who have otherwise paid to own their iPhones, and not rent them from Apple, sends shivers up my spine.

Please read on to page 2.

Of course there’d be absolute outrage if Apple tried that tactic, and hackers would go into absolute overdrive. Such an event would surely be a turning point for Apple, changing its perception from “cool” to “evil corporation” in the blink of a flick of a kill switch.

So... it seems unlikely that Apple would go down the re-pwn path anytime soon. Or kill unauthorised third party apps. But it seemingly could.

As for inadvertent releases of “malicious” software, just how much checking is Apple doing for apps on the App Store?

Well, from what we’ve seen so far, not much.

After all, how do you explain the removal of Box Office, NetShare, I Am Rich and now Slasher?


Reseller News explains that Slasher is a “horror” app – one that shows a picture of a knife and plays a “horror” sound when one makes a “stabbing” motion with the iPhone.

According to the app’s developer, the slightly unfortunately named “Josef W. Wankerl”, “Slasher has been removed from the App Store based on section 3.3.12 of the iPhone SDK agreement covering objectionable content.”

Wankerl quotes Apple’s SDK agreement, saying: “3.3.12 Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.”

He then explains: “So what this essentially means is that a picture of a knife is deemed offensive and/or objectionable.  (I don't see how it could be pornographic, obscene, or defamatory.)  Ridiculous."

Wankerl continues: "Why do toy stores sell plastic knives to children if they would be so “objectionable”?  And if I don't like another App Store developer, all I have to do is complain that their app offends me and Apple will pull the plug on them?”

Please read on to page 3.

Wankerl has asked Apple to “clarify” what is offensive so he can “correct it”. Perhaps he’ll need to replace the picture of a knife with a carrot or something. Or a big red ruby. And then maybe charge US $999.99 for the app.

Anyway – if such apps are getting through and then being “removed”, then Apple’s vaunted application checking process isn’t working too well.

Why suffer the negative publicity of removing apps when you have a system in place that is supposed to block apps you don’t want from appearing in the first place?!

That said, Apple is receiving negative publicity for having allowed the Slasher app to appear in the first place.

And this obvious lack of real checking is the reason why there is a “kill switch”?

I guess it obviates the need for an anti-malware package... for now. Surely, however, the iPhone Dev Team has a new task: hunt down the kill switch code... and kill it.


Did you know: Key business communication services may not work on the NBN?

Would your office survive without a phone, fax or email?

Avoid disruption and despair for your business.

Learn the NBN tricks and traps with your FREE 10-page NBN Business Survival Guide

The NBN Business Survival Guide answers your key questions:

· When can I get NBN?
· Will my business phones work?
· Will fax & EFTPOS be affected?
· How much will NBN cost?
· When should I start preparing?


Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.