Kevin Rose: AT&T Has to Clear Firmware Updates + Dvorak on Malicious Health Rumors

One of the most important aspects of the iPhone is how it's breathed the air of change into long stodgy, backwards thinking mobile cellular providers. We can argue whether its been less effective post iPhone 3G where subsidies have returned, but either way Apple fairly neatly removed the carrier middleman from its usual intrusive position in the smartphone space. App Store is clearly the crowning example thus far, but frequent firmware updates is sometimes likewise cited.

On the latest This Week in Tech (TWiT) podcast, however, Digg founder Kevin Rose credited an unnamed source inside Apple as saying AT&T had to approve the next iPhone firmware update. Of course, Rose has been, er... somewhat less than accurate in regards to iPhone news in the past (including his reports that the iPhone 3G would have video iChat). In his corner this time, however, are server logs showing iPhone 2.0.1 traffic on popular Apple news sites originating from both Cupertino and AT&T HQ regions.

Has AT&T always played a role in firmware testing or is this a new factor in a post 3G world? If it's new, will it make 2.x updates take longer than 1.x did? And do international carriers like 02, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Rogers, Orange, etc. all have similar advanced testing privileges? If so, will 22+ (70+ eventually) carriers wanting to test new firmware result in huge delays or staggered launches? Or is this just another well Dugg tempest in a Royal Jasmine teapot?

On a side note, the same episode of TWiT saw the crankiest of geeks, John C. Dvorak "dot org slash blog" claim that one particularly damaging rumor circulating about Steve Jobs current health was deliberately and maliciously spread at an exclusive CEO gathering by an as-yet unnamed but well known executive with a personal grudge against Jobs and Apple. Dvorak maintains the rumor, which recent reports have indicated is false, was spread to other CEOs who then propagated it, adding to the confusion and downward pressure on Apple's stock. If he can get a second anonymous confirmation on the story, Dvorak claims he will name names in his Marketwatch column.

As a huge fan of Karma, that should make for an interesting day, and likely more than a "slime bucket" response from El Jobso.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Kevin Rose: AT&T Has to Clear Firmware Updates + Dvorak on Malicious Health Rumors


Rene, it sounds like it's time for you to call Kevin using the front facing camera on the iPhone 3G that he said would be in the product to tell him he's been wrong in the past.

Most carriers, meaning not just AT&T, approve software updates for smartphones. This is to ensure that their tech staff know what's normal operations (and user error).

God save us if AT&T has to do anything that requires intelligence. Here's my latest discovery: Their stores have no cash. I bought an AT&T-branded case that was supposedly for the 3g iPhone, but the iPhone wouldn't fit so I took it back. They said they would refund the money but none of the staff had "taken in" any cash today (this was at 4:45 p.m.) so I would have to come back and ask again if they had any cash. Linking his future with AT&T may have been Steve Jobs' worst judgment ever.

Are we going to continue to discuss anything that Kevin Rose says as accurate considering he's never gotten a single thing right when it comes to the iPhone? Enough.

I thought it was common knowledge that carriers do advance testing on their devices and firmware updates, working for a large carrier I see emails all day long backing this up, "Windows mobile 6.1 has passed (insert carrier) testing", "BlackBerry OS 4.5 ver XX has passed (insert carrier) testing"...on a side note... was updated today, looking all nice and freshly designed for iPhone compatibility.

Well, again with Steve Jobs' health. I think he should just tell everyone what is up, Instead of having rumors float around and people coming up with their own thoughts about his health. But then again it's a private issue..

"...but either way Apple fairly neatly removed the carrier middleman from its usual intrusive position in the smartphone space."
Rene, perhaps you want to rethink making that statement. AT&T has made the 3G iPhone release a monumental disaster for an Apple product launch. I would say that Apple's exclusivity deal with AT&T has put the carrier middleman squarely in its usual instrusive position, contrary to your comment.