A report from Karthikk.net alleges that Apple has begun shutting down the accounts of iOS developers who have sold "slots" on their accounts to users wanting to run iOS 5 betas on their devices without paying the US$99 yearly development fee.
For a while now, developers have been offering to attach device UDIDs to their accounts for a fee; iOS dev accounts allow for a hundred devices to be associated with one account. Some unscrupulous developers have turned a modest-to-hefty profit by selling those slots off. (Incidentally, if you're one of those devs and try to drum up sales in our comments, the banhammer will fall upon you without mercy.)
Although the shutdown has been reported in a couple of places already, we've been unable to verify these reports. Normally if such a thing happened, our tip line would be flooded with emails from users who had illicitly gained access to the beta and subsequently had their devices remotely disabled, but so far we haven't heard credible reports from even one user or developer that's been affected by this alleged crackdown.
Karthikk claims that "many developers" have received a letter from Apple saying their accounts have been identified as a UDID clearinghouse and are subject to shutdown, but the site offers no direct evidence that such letters exist. We've reached out to the developer community to find out if any developers have been affected by the supposed crackdown. Not one has replied so far. We've also reached out to Apple for comment, but we've received no response yet.
Crucially, the first two iOS 5 developer betas expired recently. Reading through forum comments on various sites shows that only those running the now-expired iOS 5b1 or 5b2 have had their devices shut down on them. Those running the current iOS 5 beta (5b4) do not appear to have been affected.
We never heard of Karthikk.net before today. The scant evidence they offer for the "crackdown" isn't compelling enough for us to take it at face value. At this point, with various developer and jailbreaking communities saying they've heard nothing else on the matter other than the echo chamber effect of various sites reporting on it, we're inclined to believe that Karthikk's report is an erroneous interpretation of the first two iOS 5 betas expiring.
If you do have your iOS device or developer account disabled as a result of this supposed crackdown, please send us feedback.
Update: In the time since we first posted this story, we've heard from a handful of developers who say they have indeed had their accounts shut down because they were selling UDID slots. The confusion underlying the original reporting of this story on various sites may have been due to the first two iOS 5 betas expiring at the same time as the dev account takedowns took place. Some of our sources indicate this timing was accidental or coincidental, as Apple has been issuing takedowns of obvious UDID clearinghouse accounts for quite some time.
Although the crackdown does not appear to be as widespread as initial reports indicated, some UDID clearinghouse accounts have recently been deactivated, and users with devices associated with those accounts can expect their iOS devices to revert to an unusable state once their current iOS 5 betas expire.
The lesson here is twofold: If you're a developer, don't try to sell beta access to non-developers. If you're not a developer, don't try to buy access to betas.