Apple shovelware problems again (iPhone Configuration Utility 2.1)

The Apple Software Update program has again come under fire for pushing unnecessary software on users. This time, it's the iPhone Configuration Utility 2.1, which reportedly includes a personal Web server. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers ask if Apple will ever learn some manners or even grok the meaning of "attack surface".

By Richi Jennings. September 28, 2009.


Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention e-funk...

Updated 1.50pm EDT to expand on personal Web server issue.

    Ed Bott accuses Apple of being "up to its old tricks":

Imagine my surprise when I started Windows 7 ... this morning and was greeted with ... [an Apple Software Update] dialog box. ... Under the Updates heading, Apple says I need the iPhone Configuration Utility. ... Why, for heaven’s sake? I’ve never plugged an iPhone ... into this computer. ... It will do nothing except take up disk space and memory and potentially represent a vector for security issues. ... According to Simon Bisson, ... "it adds an Apache install to your machine."


They’ve also conveniently selected some additional software for me. ... All of a sudden I have a pile of software I don’t want or need, including the Bonjour network service. ... There is no scenario under which any of these programs could be considered updates ... Apple never asked my permission to offer additional software to me. ... Apple is completely out of step with generally accepted norms for delivering updates and new software.

  Justin Kerr draws the line:

Apple has been called out in the past for using its software updater to push unwanted applications out to Windows users, but apparently all the bad press wasn’t enough to teach them a lesson. ... Even systems that have never come in contact [with an] iPhone before are being targeted.


It’s bad enough Apple keeps trying to force Safari on Windows users, but iPhone configuration utilities for those without iPhones? That’s low. Has Apple’s has crossed the line this time?

Zoli Erdos says, "Apple is Just as Sneaky as Microsoft":

Here we go again. ... This is obviously not an update, but installing new, and in his case obviously unnecessarily software. ... An update is an update. To software already installed on my computer by choice. My choice, not some manufacturer’s. Anything else is unethical intrusion.


And before the Apple-camp declares was on me: I am not exactly a Microsoft-fanboy, in fact I will admit an anti-Microsoft bias for all the lost productivity due to their half-done software. The very un-scientific method of talking to friends suggests Apple owners are more satisfied with their computers, gadgets, software and the company as a whole..

Yes, Zoli, self-confessed "cranky old fart" Steven Hodson declares war:

I have no problem with any software maker ... letting me know that updates are available. In the case of companies like Microsoft ... or Apple letting me know that they have new products available.

  Where they went wrong in my opinion was by auto-enabling things like the iPhone Configuration Utility, Quicktime, and iTunes. Given the typical habit of computer users to just click okay this could see unwanted software being installed. ... How is the utility suppose to get your consent if it doesn’t run in the first place?

Michael Santo is catalyzed into this rant:

Really, given the propensity of many to simply click OK when an update notification like this shows up, it gives Apple a way to get stuff installed on people's systems they may not need, or want. In this case, the iPhone Configuration Utility is definitely not needed by consumers.


I think its a goof of some type. Apple knows this utility is only for Enterprise users. And I'm not as outraged. ... However, I do believe that Apple needs to get its act together with this Update utility. Update means updates, not fresh install.

But stop!theradio can't see what all the fuss is about:

The point is, it's not just Apple who attempts to install extra **** onto your computer. Programs for Windows and OS X do this. What's the problem here?

Meanwhile, AVT offers this helpful solution:

Uninstall Apple Software Update. Problem solved. All of their other stuff works fine without it.

So what's your take?
Get involved: leave a comment.

And finally...

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter, or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

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