According to the government, you don’t own the software inside your iPhone or iPad. This came up during a recent legal tussle involving the Department of Justice. The DOJ is trying to get Apple to crack encrypted code inside an iPhone that is part of a court case. Apple says that not only does it not have to do this, it claims that it doesn’t have the technical prowess to do so.
Apple’s statement that it does not have to do the DOJ’s bidding was basically shot down by Justice Department lawyers that claim Apple does not sell you iOS, it licenses it to you. The distinction is important in this case, because with the latter, Apple still owns the copy of iOS in your iPhone. This means that the DOJ can request that Apple decrypt it. If Apple were to sell iOS to you with the purchase of an iPhone, the software would belong to you and the government couldn’t force you to let them see it.