The company typically gives developers early access to the next version of its mobile operating system so that they can prepare and test apps for it. Some iOS developers have been selling unique device identifier (UDID) slots to non-developers so they can gain early access. Up to 100 of these slots are available to developers who pay $100 per year for an Apple developer account.
Apple is not only deactivating these unauthorized devices, but has identified some of the developers who have been selling UDID slots and terminating their developer accounts and flagging the UDIDs of devices running iOS 5 that don't belong to legitimate developers. This process, of course, effectively turns those devices into bricks.
iOS 5, a substantial upgrade to the OS running on Apple's mobile devices, is expected to be made available to consumers in the fall. It will include wireless syncing of content across devices, a new notification system, deeper Twitter integration and much more. As exciting as some of the operating system's new features may sound, jumping ahead in line to use them, it turns out, is probably not worth the trouble.
UPDATE: There is some skepticism about whether unauthorized installs are being penalized by Apple. As some have pointed out, it's possible that iPads and iPhones are being disabled simply because they're running outdated betas of iOS 5.
"In summary, we doubt that Apple is disabling "non-developer" devices running iOS," writes 9to5 Mac. "It does appear, though, that some sellers of UDID slots are being shut down."