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Anonymous Programmers Reveal iPhone Unlocking Software 328

Posted by kdawson
from the good-luck-getting-paid dept.
CNN reports details of a group of anonymous programmers who are planning to sell iPhone unlocking software on the Internet. They demonstrated the software hack for CNN and had a T-Mobile sim card working moments after removing the AT&T sim card. This is bound to stir up a lot of controversy: in the US iPhones are supposed to work only on the AT&T network in the first two years according to their agreement with Apple.
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Anonymous Programmers Reveal iPhone Unlocking Software

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  • by QMalcolm (1094433) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:48AM (#20449671)
    ..that people are going to use their gadgets in ways other than the ones they're 'supposed' to.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:23AM (#20450115) Journal
      Maybe not surprising, but we'll have to wait and see what kind of effects it has on the iPhone.

      Thing is, that kind of agreements aren't just because Apple or AT&T are "evil" and want to tie you to their network. They're a glimpse into how expensive the iPhone really is. That price you see when you buy one is already minus AT&T's subsidies, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're quite hefty.

      That's how everyone else negotiates too. Exclusive contract is worth X dollars, for the features and hopefully new killer app, Y dollars, for tying some functionality to their network, Z dollars, and so on. Dunno how it works in the USA, but that's how we end up with 1 Euro phones down here, as long as you're tied to a telco.

      Seeing the extent to which the iPhone is locked down, makes me think Apple negotiated some pretty damn hefty subsidies for it. I mean, for example, for any other phone, they don't even bother worrying what you do with it, as long as you have your two year contract with the one who subsidized it. If you have your 2 years T-Mobile contract anyway, and you want to use that phone with Vodaphone too (thus paying two phone bills for it), T-Mobile won't usually give a damn. It's just assumed that most people won't bother. If you wanted a Vodaphone contract, you'd have just gotten one of their phones. If for the iPhone anyone actually gives a damn whether you can use it at all on another network, they probably are paying more than the standard subsidies for it.

      Thing is, the iPhone didn't happen before just because it's expensive, not because everyone else is a drooling moron and Apple is t3h genius. Symbian has all the expertise they need with touch screens even before they starting having anything to do with phones, for example. My old Psion 5 has touch-screen. Everyone just bet that there's not much of a market for a phone that costs as much as a laptop. Apple apparently bet that there's one if they get half the price subsidized by AT&T.

      So it might get interesting. If Apple can't deliver the lockdown they promised for the extra money, AT&T would have to be dumb to keep paying for it. And that's at the very least.

      Would the iPhone still be as attractive as a $1000 toy (a number pulled out of the arse, for example sake) if it were unlocked and usable on any network? Sure, for some nerds it would still be a cool toy, but more people -- or they significant other, if they have one -- would start wondering if they _really_ need one.

      It might get interesting.

      Please don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating curtailing consumer rights to save the iPhone. Just saying what I see at work there. (And I could be wrong too.)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by packeteer (566398)
        You must have failed econ 101...

        The price of goods or services is chosen based on the highest price you can get and still sell enough. The cost of manufacturing goods doesn't determine the price at market, it determines whether or not you are in the game of selling the goods. If they cost more to make than you can sell them for you obviously don't sell them. If you can make a profit then you sell them.
        • Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Moraelin (679338) on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:04AM (#20450311) Journal
          To quote Scot Adams' My New Favourite Response [typepad.com] to people answering to their own mis-understandings of what he wrote, "I agree with your analysis of your hallucination."

          I never said that the cost of manufacturing dictates the market price. It does however, yes, dictate whether you stay in that game or not. "Would it still sell for $1000?" is actually a damn valid question. It's the "can we stay in that game?" question, in fact.

          Apple's model is based on getting a hefty part of the price subsidized by AT&T. Without it, would they still be in the game of selling iPhones? The others faced the exact same question, and that's why they didn't make an iPhone before. That's what I'm saying there.

          So if you got tripped that badly by "Would it still sell for $1000?", then maybe it's you who needs to re-read those econ 101 notes. Because while you've proven that you can repeat the trivia, I see no sign of actual understanding there. _That_ question is exactly what determines whether you're in that game or not. If you don't understand that, the rest is just mechanically spewing trivia, and not much of a sign of economic wisdom.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Spokehedz (599285)
            The 8GB iPhone costs 220 to make. [reghardware.co.uk] This is a gross estimate, but it was the second result in Google and I can't be arsed to look any further. It's a good baseline, if anything.

            So each phone is $600. Toss in 'activation' which is usually somewhere around $35, insurance which is about $5 each month, and then the plan itself which will run you $100 a month recurring for the next 24 months...

            600 + 35 + (5 * 24) + (100 * 24) = $3155

            lets assume that you don't use up all your minutes, you don't send thousands of te
            • Hunh? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by celtic_hackr (579828) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:27PM (#20453231) Journal
              That estimate only covers the cost of parts!

              Not to be too cynical, but seeing as /. has all these folks who claim to be
              uber geeks and hax0rs, I shouldn't have to state that they must have spent a
              fortune on programming for this product. EVEN if they used only ultra cheap
              programmers from you-know-where-places, it would still have taken many many
              thousands of hours to write, and assuming it was put together in China, and shipped
              to the US, a cost of $220 is about as realistic as the $1000 arse value.
              No, I suspect, a more realistic cost to be in the neighborhood of $500 to produce.

              My reasoning is based on:
              1) having worked for years in the assembly of everything from EKGs to IBM Mainframes to 747 flight simulators
              (not your video programs, but full scale mock ups of the cockpit), so I have firsthand knowledge of what
              it takes to assemble electronic devices,
              2) Having worked for years in the shipping business, I know what it costs to ship products from China in 40'
              containers over the ocean,
              3) the amount of advertising that was done,
              4) the cost of software development (my current line of work),
              5) cost of prototyping, packaging, product manuals, etc.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          You must have failed econ 101
          Worse, you must have believed Econ 101. That was your first mistake.

      • by Nullav (1053766)
        So you're saying that forcing yourself into a particular niche (in this case, AT&T subscribers) is a smart way to increase profits? How is that any good compared to striking a similar deal with multiple networks? The only side I can imagine pushing this deal would be AT&T, in an attempt to pull people away from the competitors.
        Also, so far as cost goes, I'd say $600-700, (minus the usual glossy plastic fee, of course) after experience with similar phones (sans contract). Still high, but not the $1,0
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Moraelin (679338)
          Well, it's sorta a question of estimated market share, the way I see it. Someone probably figured it out like this:

          - we'd sell X1 thousand units at price Y1, unlocked and for everyone

          - we'd sell X2 thousand units at the much lower price Y2, even if it's tied to AT&T

          Obviously they thought that X2 > X1.

          Whether that's right or wrong, smart or dumb, I couldn't tell. But basically, yes, Apple obviously thought that that's a smart move. Feel free to agree or disagree with them, though.
      • by Goaway (82658)

        They're a glimpse into how expensive the iPhone really is. That price you see when you buy one is already minus AT&T's subsidies, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're quite hefty.
        The iPhones are unsubsidized. The price you see is the real price.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "Thing is, that kind of agreements aren't just because Apple or AT&T are "evil" and want to tie you to their network. They're a glimpse into how expensive the iPhone really is. That price you see when you buy one is already minus AT&T's subsidies, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're quite hefty."

        The funny thing about your post is that you're simply incorrect. The parts for the iPhone are about $250. Gluing them together doesn't cost another $250.

        "Seeing the extent to which the iPhone is locke
      • by LarsG (31008) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:27AM (#20450717) Journal
        They're a glimpse into how expensive the iPhone really is.

        Are you a key employee at Apple and know how much they cost to build? Because the rest of us out here have to depend on tearing the phone apart and pricing the components - which at current best guess is at something like $250-$300. Except for the display, the components are pretty much standard off the shelf type stuff which is easy to price. So fess up, are the estimates on the display price way way low?

        Thing is, the iPhone didn't happen before just because it's expensive

        The iPhone happened because someone at Apple (Jobs, perhaps?) saw a market opportunity in the fact that most cell phones have a sucky UI. What makes the iPhone is a nifty multi-touch display and a lot of software development.

        Traditional phone makers like Nokia don't have the same kind of incentive to sink a lot of cost in 'reinventing the UI'. Their current models are selling quite well, so why spend a lot of money on something that might or might not work. Not to mention legacy concerns - S60 has a thriving 3rd party software market, radical changes in the UI cause compatibility problems. Which is why you often see these huge jumps not from established players but from companies seeking entry to the market.
      • You can google this, but the iPhone is not subsidized by AT & T. While most phones are, the cost for the iPhone is around $250 for materials. This is way lower than the $600 purchase price, which leaves a profit for Apple no matter who buys the phone. AT & T does not want the iPhone out of its network because they spent a lot of money on the virtual email/voicemail setup. They need to recup those costs which are probably substantial. That's why AT & T sent out its lawyers immediately when t
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Narcogen (666692)
        Subsidized handsets are a normal thing in the industry.

        The Apple deal, since it pays them recurring royalties over the life of the contract, are not.

        I have no doubt that the purchase price of the phone is non-subsidized. Notice that you can purchase an iPhone at the same price, direct from Apple, without a contract. Of course, since even that handset is still locked, you end up having to get the contract anyway. That's not the usual model.

        Look at Palm. It sells its smartphones through carriers, subsidized,
  • Third party (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edittard (805475) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:48AM (#20449675)

    in the US iPhones are supposed to work only on the AT&T network in the first two years according to their agreement with Apple.
    That agreement can't be binding on a third party. Apple can say "hey, we tried." Whether AT&T think they tried hard enough is a different matter - and if they don't, well, it'll be lawyers at 100 paces.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by N-icMa (1149777)
      I have no idea how people bought these phones, but if Apple required you to sign a form promising not to use anything but AT&T for six months, then you wouldn't really be able to claim independence from the lock-in agreement.
      • by rcs1000 (462363) *
        You don't sign anything when you buy the iPhone. Seriously: just the credit card slip. And you could always pay cash if you so desired.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Ash Vince (602485)
          You don't actually have to sign anything to be bound by the terms and conditions of sale.

          Just paying the money constitues an acceptance of all the terms and conditions of their standard contract regardless of whether you actually read them.

          I could not find any links detailing the Law on this but here is a link to Dell's Terms and Conditions of Sale:
          http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/pol icy/en/policy?c=us&l=en&s=gen&~section=012 [dell.com]

          It clearly states that you are bound buy them unless you
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by trenien (974611)
            I've no idea in the US, but in most EU countries, you can't be bound by the terms of a contract you haven't signed yourself.

            That said, considering that even in the US you have to click 'yes' to license agreement to be bound by it (never mind the abusiveness of said license), I'd tend to think the rules are similar.

    • by bilabrin (1127623)
      Remeber all the modded consoles which ICE confiscated? That's what AT&T can and most likely will do. They will find a judge willing to give a broad interpretation of the DCMA.
    • by Slurpee (4012)

      That agreement can't be binding on a third party. Apple can say "hey, we tried." Whether AT&T think they tried hard enough is a different matter - and if they don't, well, it'll be lawyers at 100 paces.
      There may also be something in the contract between Apple and AT&T that says something along the lines of "if people can unlock the phone during this time, Apple agrees to pay us $$$" - or other such penalty clauses.
  • Atleast (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pakar (813627) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:51AM (#20449689)
    ... here in sweden we are allowed to do whatever we want with hardware that we buy.....

    • Re:Atleast (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tsa (15680) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:08AM (#20450041) Homepage
      Yes, but we live in Europe, the Continent of the Free...
    • by bjourne (1034822)
      Yes, yes, you can do whatever you want with that hemmbränningsmaskin of yours.
  • I wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:51AM (#20449691)
    I wonder if they will work their website much like the 3rd party unlock stuff for Sony Ericsson. I can't imagine they would sell the entire program, more likely it'll be missing some key components so that users are forced to pay a fee to complete the unlock process (by logging in to their server)
  • by _Shorty-dammit (555739) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:52AM (#20449699)
    Locks make no sense, at least not for consumers/customers. I can see how it could work to their benefit, but I don't give a rat's ass about them. If I wanted one, why would I want to be locked in to one specific service provider? My cellular provider up here in BC, Canada, which is Telus, puts stupid locks in their phones, too. I can't upload my own ring tones or anything like that, and I'm instead forced to pay them outrageous fees to download ringtones from them. Only because they've locked the phone to perform only the functions they want it to. No reason I shouldn't be able to upload my own ringtones if I want to, since the phones have that capability from the factory. It's only after Telus blocks those features that they are no longer available to use. Ridiculous. All things like this, DRM, etc, are doing nothing but giving me bad opinions of the companies that use such tactics.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mwvdlee (775178)
      Locks are typically there to make the phones (hardware) cheaper for the consumer. In that sense I do understand why they exist; otherwise consumers would have to pay the actual price of the hardware (which is a lot more than most people would be willing to pay). In the case of the iPhone however, I understand people are paying full price even though they get locked into a 2 year contract.
      • by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:28AM (#20449847)
        I don't know that you really understand the corporate mindset behind locking down of phones. It's not about making the hardware cheaper, on a world scale it's already about as cheap as it's going to get - America is part of a small and unique set of countries in which the phone companies have given people the ability to get a desirable object 'right now', often with no up front payment - it feels like it's free. The contract already makes the phone company more money than what they paid for the handset, plus enough to keep their systems running, along with a little extra to bolster the profit margins.

        They've found ways to make even more money on top of this by tweaking firmware to force customers to pay extra for things they could have already done for free. This is a cash cow, nothing less. People want the phone as soon as they feel the urge to have it, the market built itself around this desire. It's not wrong, I don't even think that it's bad. After all, even in America people can still buy a phone outright. They have a choice.
        • by jonwil (467024)
          Here in australia, you can buy a phone from at least one carrier that would cost you nothing up front. It would also NOT be locked to the carriers network. If you want to leave before the end of the 2 year contract, you would have to pay an exit fee.

          So, for phones that are on a contract, the phone companies do not need to lock the phones to their network. They do it anyway so that its more difficult for you to switch carriers at the end of the contract (or to break the contract, pay the exit fees and switch
        • After all, even in America people can still buy a phone outright. They have a choice.

          Show me where I can buy the Iphone without contract

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bert64 (520050)
        The locks don't make the phone cheaper, they effectively extend you a line of credit (like a loan) for the phone that you pay off over the term of your contract...
        The provider locks are there to try and prevent you using the phone with a competing service, although it seems rather pointless to do this.
        Application locks on the other hand, just suck... The operator intentionally crippling the features of a phone (and often not telling you in advance) is a terrible thing to do.

        If you were to buy a cheap phone
        • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
          Dead easy on the N95.. just debrand it. Takes about 10 minutes.

          Unlocking is separate but just as easy - just ask orange for the unlock code.. which they're legally obliged to give you. I think they charge about £20 for it.
    • by smilindog2000 (907665) <bill@billrocks.org> on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:06AM (#20449771) Homepage
      Worse than the cell-vendor locks are the application locks on the iPhone. Most of us are unwilling to buy a $600 phone and then hack it, potentially rendering it unusable. The application space for the iPhone are huge, yet we can't do dick. We could port Skype/OpenWengo/Gizo, gaim, and provide a shell. Can you believe there are zero native games on the iPhone? My wife uses an iPhone, but until I can legally program the damned thing, I'm not getting one.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Rogue Pat (749565)

        Most of us are unwilling to buy a $600 phone and then hack it, potentially rendering it unusable. The application space for the iPhone are huge, yet we can't do dick.
        I respectfully disagree with you. I think the correct sentence would be: Most of us are unwilling to buy a $600 phone and then hack it. PERIOD.

        I (and i assume most people that buy a mobile phone) want a phone with a given feature set that just works (tm).
        • Good point, but Apple isn't providing the desired feature set. They never have and never will. They depend on 3rd party software for a huge percentage of all interesting applications on Macs. Apple wont get them for the iPhone, tremendously limiting it's usefulness.
      • by Xyde (415798) <slashdot@NOSpAM.purrrr.net> on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:04AM (#20450599)
        http://iphone.fiveforty.net/wiki/index.php/GUI_App lications [fiveforty.net]

        There are currently 32 native iPhone apps on that page including 8 games, an AIM client, 2 IRC clients (not including BitchX), a fully functional VT100 terminal, RSS, eBook readers and much more with the development constantly growing. These are all open source and written in UIKit/Cocoa, with other apps happening that aren't listed there.

        Just because the application development isn't officially Apple sanctioned doesn't mean it isn't happening.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by UnanimousCoward (9841)
        Well, you just reaffirmed El Jobso's strategy: He ain't selling to you, he's selling to your wife.

        My wife uses an iPhone, but until I can legally program the damned thing, I'm not getting one.

    • Locks make no sense, at least not for consumers/customers. I can see how it could work to their benefit
      The reason locking came about is that telcos were subsidising phones. That $30 locked phone you've got? Cost $45 and would retail for $90. They make their money back over the years on call charges.

      I have no idea if the iPhone is subsidised.

       
      • by dwater (72834)
        > I have no idea if the iPhone is subsidised.

        An AT&T memo said not, but I don't believe it.
        • by kestasjk (933987)
          How could it not be subsidized? It's a widescreen iPod, a phone, and an internet communications device.

          As Steve Jobs pointed out; a hi-fi system and widescreen TV are $2000, a high end smart-phone is $800, and an internet communications device like a high-end PC goes for $4,000.

          If Jobs' figures are correct AT&T must be subsidizing at least $6,200 per iPhone, how else do you explain a widescreen iPod, a phone, and an internet communications device, starting at $499?
      • I wish I paid $45 for my phone. Pretty sure I paid in the $250-$300 range for mine. The cheaper->free phones they offered at the time had pathetic feature lists, and I wanted one with a few more things in it. Pity it's crippled.
      • by arivanov (12034)
        Probably more than 45. 45 is just the cost of the intellectual property for an average GSM phone. The hardware BOM will be at least that much. Add to that the cost of certification, cost of testing (you will not believe how often it is broken), etc. So cost 100+, retail 150+ is more like it for the lowest end. Prices in the 400+ range are the norm for the higher end.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Shashvat (676991)
          Which currency are you calculating in? In most of SE Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, India), you can get a Nokia starting at US$45. This is a basic GSM cellphone (1100, 1110, 2100) with warranty but no contract, no SIM and completely unlocked.
    • by Ash Vince (602485)
      How do you feel about game consoles and the companies that sell them?

      Game consoles are sold on a similar business model. The price you pay for a game console in the shops is far below what it cost to manufacture. The company making the console then make that money up by adding a slice to the cost of each game. All consoles nowadays have a way of making sure that all games produces have to be licenced by the console manufacturer, usually this is in the form of a specialist storage medium (ie - proprietary c
  • Not bounding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wannasleep (668379) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:55AM (#20449719)
    When you purchase an iPhone you are not signing anything (other than a credit card slip). Hence, you have not entered in a contract with AT&T, so whatever AT&T spokesperson says, it is not tenable. Furthermore, unlocking one's phone is not illegal in the US.
    • by bdsesq (515351)
      If you purchase your iPhone from AT&T you sign the contract in the store.
      That is most likely what he is referring to.
  • by Frogbert (589961) <frogbertNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:00AM (#20449731)
    I can't believe unlocking an iPhone causes such a stir. GSM phones are unlocked every day through mysterious hacks and the iPhone is no different. What is the big deal?
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:02AM (#20449753)
      The big deal is that there are two companies that agreed to a mutually beneficial deal, ripping off their customer, and someone dared to muscle in and offer the customer what he wants.

      In other words, the DMCA must come to the rescue.
      • by dwater (72834)
        "flamebait"???

        come on moderators. what are you thinking? the poster is absolutely correct...his spin is somewhat negative, but that's not 'flamebait'.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:00AM (#20449735)
    These people should be neutralised immediately! No stone should be left unturned. Pull all the troops back from Afghanistan if we have to. Order another 500 Predators! Close down all interstate traffic!

    Won't someone think of the children? How can you sit quietly at home while this sort of vile attack on our American values is going on? I would happily help the Government slaughter half the population if that had the smallest chance of stopping this madness.....
    • I would happily help the Government slaughter half the population if that had the smallest chance of stopping this madness.....
      This can be arranged -- through help of a little alien intervention and a death ray.

      Would you like to kill (a) all woman (b) all men?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I personally believe, that many U.S. Americans do not have, such as, an iPhone. We need to do more for other countries, like, South Africa, so they can have an iPhone too. In the spirit of cooperation with countries, such as, the Asian countries, we can benefit the children for a brighter future. Thank you.

      Oh, and Iraq!
  • by ReallyEvilCanine (991886) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:09AM (#20449781) Homepage
    AT&T has no claim against Apple since they delivered the phone locked to the AT&T network, as promised.

    Any DMCA claim is going to be tough in light of the following:

    From the Federal Register:

    The Register has concluded that the software locks are access controls that adversely affect the ability of consumers to make noninfringing use of the software on their cellular phones. Moreover, a review of the four factors enumerated in 1201(a)(1)(C)(i)-(iv) supports the conclusion that an exemption is warranted.

    -- Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 227 / Monday, November 27, 2006 [copyright.gov]

    And from the US Copyright Office itself:

    There is no evidence in the record of this rulemaking that demonstrates or even suggests that obtaining access to the mobile firmware in a mobile handset that is owned by a consumer is an infringing act. Similarly, there has been no argument or suggestion that a consumer desiring to switch a lawfully purchased mobile handset from one network carrier to another is engaging in copyright infringement or in activity that in any way implicates copyright infringement or the interests of the copyright owner. [pg. 50]

    ...

    the Register recommends that the following class of works be subject to exemption: Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network. [pg. 53]

    -- Recommendation of the Register of Copyrights [copyright.gov]

    The only claim they might be able to make is one against those selling the information which will, inside a few days, get out and be posted everywhere so that anyone can do it.

  • by Skapare (16644) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:21AM (#20449813) Homepage

    This is actually good for Apple because more people will buy an iPhone now that they know they will be able to use a less evil carrier.

  • by delire (809063) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:24AM (#20449821)
    First you buy the iPhone and then you pay more to unlock it? Is that how much 'freedom' costs?

    Next thing we know Apple will buy-out the company and start selling unlocked iPhones at a premium..

    At the risk of sounding trollish, the pro-consumer OpenMoko [openmoko.org] looks very appealing in light of Apple's good-looking but artificially tied-down device.
    • The price of freedom ain't vigilance, it's buying yet another package of software, the software to end all vendor lock-in...

      I've heard similar things about wars.
  • by AccUser (191555) <mhg&taose,co,uk> on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:32AM (#20449867) Homepage
    I might be wrong, but wasn't the exclusive contract between Apple and AT&T put in place to ensure that AT&T would develop the network infrastructure and services to support the features of the iPhone? Sure, basic call functionality and SMS is available with all operators, but what about the other features, such as the visual voicemail?

    I am personally looking forward to getting my grubbies on an iPhone once they land in the UK, and would be happy to be able to make a choice of operator/contract.
    • but what about the other features, such as the visual voicemail?

      It seems to me that the visual voicemail is the ONLY feature which requires an explicit support from the network operator. All other features simply require an IP connection, provided either over GSM or WiFi.
    • From what I'm understanding is the euro iphone will not have the same exclusive vendor lock-in because none of the EU providers has total EU coverage so there will be at least two. Europeans are less likely to get lock-in to a contract and more likely to be pay as you go or prepaid anyways.

  • Having in mind what the demand curve for a software-based unlocking solution for the iPhone is, especially in Europe, these guys can easily charge more than 100 USD for the hack... at least until somebody else puts a competitive hack on the market.

    • He should probably settle for a more moderate fee. At 20 bucks, people will buy it. At 100 bucks, people will bother to torrent.
  • by NoPantsJim (1149003) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:16AM (#20450075) Homepage
    I haven't heard anything about the functionality of these unlocked phones. Are all of the features of the AT&T data plans functional with a different carrier or is it additionally locked down in some way? Also, what happens when Apple pushes out an update that disables this hack. If the developers can't come up with a new hack in time, what happens to all the people who paid for the original hack that no longer works?
    • Also, what happens when Apple pushes out an update that disables this hack.

      Since the iphone is only "supposed" to be on at&t's network, one would assume that updates are hosted by at&t themselves, on their network, to keep bandwidth costs down. the updates might even be restricted so only people on at&t have access to them, raising another issue of possibly no longer being able to update the phone leaving it vulnerable to holes patched by updates. this is just speculation of course, there isnt

  • iPhone in Europe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tsa (15680) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:18AM (#20450085) Homepage
    I am very curious what Apple will do with the iPhone in Europe. I think pulling off the ridiculous AT&T-only lock-in prank is impossible here. Yes, we have locks on phones here too, but in principle you can buy any phone you like without a SIM-lock and use it with any provider. You only get a locked phone if you get it together with a contract, which is reasonable because the provider then wants you to stay with them. Exclusive use of particular phones with particular providers is unheard of here. And am I correct in thinking that locking a phone is illegal in Germany?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IndieKid (1061106)
      I know in the UK that it has been fairly common practice to lock down phones. Until recently, all subsidised phones on an Orange contract were locked to Orange (they might still be for all I know, I've never been on Orange).

      As far as I know, Vodafone has never locked it's phones to only allow Vodafone SIMs (I've regularly used other network's SIMs in my Vodafone phone), but they do tend to put custom Vodafone firmware on the devices which can cause a loss in functionality if you put another SIM (say from
      • by Bert64 (520050)
        I had a Blackberry 7290 from Vodafone, it was most certainly sim-locked to vodafone. It cost me about GBP3 to get it unlocked.
    • Umm... why should it be illegal? The only thing is that it is afaik not yet illegal to go ahead and remove the lock, and most carriers offer the service to actually unlock your phone for you after your contract expires (the idea behind that is that you have to go there when your contract ends and you see all those shiny new phones that you absolutely MUST have...).
    • by J0nne (924579)
      It's certainly illegal in Belgium. You can't buy phones that are locked to one provider here (and this is a good thing).
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday September 03, 2007 @09:38AM (#20451249)

    ...group of anonymous programmers who are planning to sell iPhone unlocking software on the Internet.


    "Anonymous" sellers? How does that work - cash payments left under a bench somewhere?

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