Apple confirms iPhone “kill switch”

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has confirmed that the iPhone has a “kill switch” which allows the computer giant to remotely remove programs from a user’s device.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has confirmed that the iPhone has a “kill switch” which allows the computer giant to remotely remove programs from a user’s device.

News of the kill switch has been sweeping the internet since late last week, when Jonathan Zdziarski, an independent iPhone developer and author, discovered a line of code in the iPhone software that allows an iPhone to connect to a website that could remotely delete applications that Apple has “blacklisted”.

One of the big attractions of the iPhone is the iPhone Application Store, where iPhone users can purchase a range programs – including games, currency convertors, restaurant guides and phrase books – built by independent developers.

Apple has already blacklisted a number of programs, including one called I Am Rich. The application, which costs $US999.99, did nothing more than display a glowing red ruby on the iPhone’s screen.

Apple watchers and bloggers were outraged at the idea Apple might be able to mess with their prized iPhones remotely and were also up in arms about possible privacy breaches.

But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Jobs said the kill switch mechanism was necessary to help prevent the spread of malicious applications, such as one that stole users’ personal information.

“Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull,” he said.

Jobs also confirmed just how big the iPhone application business had become in the month since the 3G device went on sale.

Users have downloaded more than 60 million programs for the iPhone, and while most of those applications were free, Apple sold an average of $US1 million a day in applications for a total of about $US30 million in sales over the month.

Jobs says that if sales stay at the current pace, Apple will get a least $US360 million a year in new revenue from the App Store.

“This thing’s going to crest a half a billion, soon. Who knows, maybe it will be a $US1 billion marketplace at some point in time. I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software,” he told the WSJ.

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