I think there is a lot in what you say. And those unlocking their phones are clearly going on a serious excursion from the clearly laid out agreement to go with AT&T. However, Apple have hinted that third-party development is not necessarily a bad thing. Moreover, Apple must be reasonable and proportionate and should continue to aspire to be at the top of customer care and service. Thus Apple (allegedly) telling people to buy another iPhone because they had the temerity to install some other piece of functionality on their iPhone is too harsh. Apple should offer a 'factory state' reversion service for say $10 at their Apple Stores. Then everyone is happy and people will have had the conditions of sale made clear, they will not have lost the entire value of their iPhone and Apple will not be out of pocket!
You don't feel the condition of sale is clear? Where have you been?
Apple doesn't support 3rd party apps on the iPhone. It also won't send the cops after you if you decide to try to modify the presently closed platform it offers. You can open it up, slag it with a soldering iron, bake it in a microwave, etc. It's your device. HOWEVER - If you modify your device to the point where an Apple supported update would prevent operation, then you're on your own.
You aren't being forced to implement any update, you aren't forced to do anything. Do, or do not. It's your choice.
Just know that if you do use the update on a phone that hasn't had the code modified to change the operation and it breaks, Apple will stand behind their device and repair it for you under warranty. If you have modified the code on the device you don't have that protection.
If you want the protection, don't hack your phone.
Now, if you want to argue that Apple hasn't said CLEARLY and EXACTLY that, then show me the link. Just don't start arguing some lame crap about how the word "wreak" is used. People on internet forums have a habit of starting arguments about semantics when their logic fails...saving face, I suppose.
And by 'semantics" I mean: "the language used to achieve a desired effect on an audience", just to make myself clear.
By the way, where's personal responsibility in this? You don't want your phone bricked, get all over the asses of the guys that wrote the crappy software that broke it. Hold the so-called "iPhone dev team" and the others responsible for their crappy code that results in your phone being bricked. It worked when you took it from the box from Apple 'till you installed that crud.