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The real story behind the iPhone unlock GUI drama


So as you may have seen on some other sites, there was a little bit of drama today around the iPhone unlock program written (in part) by our own Erica Sadun. Lots of rumors are flying around, and lots of folks have it almost right. But none of them knows the real story. And since Sadun works for us, we have kind of an inside track on what really happened. So here it is.

First of all, Erica didn't write the unlock application itself. The iPhone Dev Team did that, and it apparently is a real, no-code-stolen software unlock-- put it on your iPhone, run it, and then use any SIM you want. Erica only started to write the barebones of a GUI application for the unlock, and gave that code to the dev team.

Which is where this haRRo person gets involved. He, a Belfast, UK man, is not a member of the dev team, but pretended to be. He apparently took Erica's code out of the IRC channel, with the intent of selling it as his own application. He even got an offer from an Australian company, $50k AUD, to allow the application he said he'd written.

But he didn't write it. At all. Because while yes, the code he tried to sell was updated from Erica's code, it wasn't by haRRo. He actually contacted another coder to do the job-- who we spoke with, and our IM conversation can be seen after the jump.

Update: Post updated below.

The coder has asked us to keep his identity unknown.

anonymous: HaRRo put out the word on IRC last night about finding someone that could build a GUI application for unlocking the iPhone

anonymous: By the way he spoke, and how others treated him in the channel, I assumed that he was part of the dev-team

anonymous: He sent me the code that Erica had written already, and told me that it was okay to base my work off that

TUAW: interesting

anonymous: So I did. Most of Ericas code is gone from the the version that HaRRo released, but still, it is based on her work

TUAW: so did he tell you he was selling it?

anonymous: My intention was only to help the dev-team out at a time where the forums and IRC was flooded with people trying to unlock the manual (somewhat complicated) way

anonymous: Nope

anonymous: I had no idea that he planned on making money off this. I assumed it would be released for free (which it was), and the source opened up (which it wasnt, but the dev-team has the source now)

TUAW: and you didn't know erica's work was hers?

anonymous: I did. I saw her comments in the source-code, and I explicitly asked him if he had gotten her approval for releasing something based on her code

TUAW: and he said?

anonymous: "Of course"

But "of course," he hadn't. HaRRo tried to not only sell Erica and the Dev Team's code as completely his own, but even commissioned this other coder, while pretending to be a member of the Dev Team, to do his work for him.

The good news is that haRRo didn't get his money-- as was reported, the person offering the deal discovered the truth before any money changed hands.

And the best news is that things are back on track for the application-- both Erica and the coder who developed the application for haRRo (thinking he was part of the Dev Team), have given their own source back to the Dev Team, which means we should be very, very close to the holy grail: a completely free and open source, completely GUI, one click unlock for the iPhone.

Update: Looks like haRRo's been talking to Forbes also, and claiming that he's the "first to package the product.." TUAW has been told that David Harrison, the 23-year-old from Belfast, is haRRo himself.

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