Speculation is running rampant at the moment, but could it be that Apple merely decided to fix these bricked iPhones on purpose? Apple got a lot of bad press for the bricked iPhones, even if it was not malicious it reflected poorly on the companys image and may have cost the company significant potential sale. But does unbricking these phones really GAIN them anything at this point?
Another possibility may be that Apple sees an opportunity here for potential sales. Bricked iPhones don’t gain Apple any additional revenue from service agreements, so is this an attempt to give iPhone owners a second chance? Is Apple saying “you have your phone back, now go sign up with AT&T”? This theory may be plausible but isn’t exactly a solid business plan. Out of the estimated ~100,000 unlocked iPhones, how many of those are actually bricked at the moment, and of those bricked phones how many users would actually agree to sign up with AT&T if the phone suddenly worked again?
The most likely explanation we think is this: Apple merely updated a large amount of the iPhone code, which may have been able to return the bricked phones to a locked but functional state similar to when they were purchased. It had to happen some time, just like Apple wouldn’t work around the hacks just to accommodate unlocked phones, Apple isn’t going to avoid updating certain parts of the iPhone system firmware just to keep bricked phones non functional either. As with everything the simplest explanation is sometimes the truth.