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Details and Rumors of iPhone Restrictions Emerging 441

We're getting indications of the ways the iPhone will be sold (or not sold) and restricted by Apple and AT&T. Reader thefickler writes, "An anonymous AT&T store manager has told that users will get their WiFi when they sign a contract locking them into a data plan and EDGE. Kiss your dreams of WiFi reliance goodbye." And our own CmdrTaco found an article up on AppleInsider reporting that the iPhone will not be sold through established business channels — forcing Cingular business customers to stand in line for their goodies, as individuals, at Apple stores. An AT&T Business Division rep told one customer, "There is no ETA on the [ending of the] sale ban to business."
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Details and Rumors of iPhone Restrictions Emerging

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  • uh oh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by sumi-manga ( 948999 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:21AM (#19505877) Journal
    more like, iPwned
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thetable123 ( 936470 )

      more like, iPwned
      Now thats funny, I don't care who you are. Wow they are trying to force me into waiting for the Neo1973 [].
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday June 14, 2007 @02:42PM (#19509183)
      ...the guy who bought it.
  • AT&T NBS sales (Score:5, Interesting)

    by willith ( 218835 ) * on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:23AM (#19505899) Homepage
    I just got off the phone with the AT&T National Business Ordering Center, and they confirmed that they *will* be selling the iPhone to individuals attached to business accounts (i.e., accounts with FANs) on 29 June. It's possible that the person to whom I spoke might have just been BS'ing, but I figure that person is at least as reliable as the anonymous sources in the article summary.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by glesga_kiss ( 596639 )
      I would take that with a pinch of salt. I've been a bleeding-edge user of mobiles for quite some time, using forums to find out what's out there and what's coming soon. The customer service reps usually got these things wrong, they aren't exposed to the products until a week or so before they start selling them. They aren't a reliable source, you'd need to speak to their marketing department to get decent new-product info.
  • But those were shortages of their newest gadget, not the refusal to sell them normally.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm waiting for that little phone to get over to Europe (Netherlands), I will gladly buy it (if I can)

    (and it's not through T-Mobile)
  • by minginqunt ( 225413 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:24AM (#19505933) Homepage Journal
    "Users will get their WiFi when they sign a contract"

    I'm not sure this statement makes much sense. Since the iPhone won't be sold without a (data-enabled) contract, shouldn't it read:

    "Users will get their iPhone when they sign a contract", which has the advantage of being true, if less trolly.
    • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:58AM (#19506547)
      But think about this...

      An anonymous AT&T store manager has told

      Talk about unreliable rumors, a store manager? There's only 5 or 10 of those in the country! How far down the food chain is that? This guys information is probably based on rumors of rumors. In other words, very possibly no relation to reality.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      To be a bit more informative, it should read:

      "Users will get their iPhone when they sign a contract including both voice and data plans."

      This has the advantage of pointing out that data plans are required. I know I've been considering getting an iPhone, but once you add a data plan you're basically at $80+/month. Of course, that figure is estimated using the current voice and PDA data plans. Throw in another 20 bucks minimum if you want to tether w/o violating their terms of use.

      Without having actually tr
  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mattgreen ( 701203 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:24AM (#19505935)
    I thought the iPhone was going to be REVOLUTIONARY! I've never felt so empowered about a product launch! (Well, there was that one time when I was really big into Rage Against the Machine, and I considered myself acutely aware of the injustice around the world.) Maybe I need to stop reading RoughlyDrafted so much...
  • I just wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MemoryDragon ( 544441 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:25AM (#19505953)
    If this thing is DOA, no app development, and a lot of other lock in restrictions. I am not sure who the customers of those things should be the technical crowd definitely is not.
    And lots of other usual apple customers probably are shied away by the contract enforcements connected to this thing.

    I assume it will be the crowd who wants to have the latest shiny toy. I am not sure if this thing will be able to stand on its own after some initial success. Apple could have had a winner on this thing if they wouldnt have played Sony or Nintendo in trying to lock the user of this thing down!

    It probably will come down to how fast the thing will be hacked open!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by e4g4 ( 533831 )

      no app development

      We know this to no longer be true - 3rd party apps for the iphone can and will be created using methods similar to the way widgets are developed for os x. As to contracts.....why is everybody whining about contracts? *Every* phone that is not a prepaid phone requires a contract, and nearly all of them have draconian cancellation fees - why don't we wait until we have the actual details of the contract, rather than the word of an anonymous AT&T store manager.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sparr0 ( 451780 )
        Name one other phone that is not sold without a contract.

        (PS: I don't think the iPhone will be contract restricted either)
        • by ajlitt ( 19055 )
          Um... any current AT+T phone? I just bought an 8525 (HTC TyTn) and with my customer employee discount (Premier) applied to the non-contract price I got the phone for less than I would have with a 2 year contract and rebates.
      • by dada21 ( 163177 )
        *Every* phone that is not a prepaid phone requires a contract, and nearly all of them have draconian cancellation fees

        I bought my HTC Trinity P3600 last year from a reseller with no contract ($600, though). I added it to my T-Mobile business plan with no long term commitment. There is no contract to cancel if I decide to jump carriers. I have no desire to subsidize my phone's initial cost by giving in to 2 year agreements.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        We know this to no longer be true - 3rd party apps for the iphone can and will be created using methods similar to the way widgets are developed for os x

        An Apple cop-out. Application development means things like ssh programs, or irc clients, or spreadsheets, or VOIP programs, not silly javascript toys.

        As to contracts.....why is everybody whining about contracts? *Every* phone that is not a prepaid phone requires a contract

        Untrue. I can go to damn near any decent cell phone store and get a completely un

        • by e4g4 ( 533831 )

          An Apple cop-out. Application development means things like ssh programs, or irc clients, or spreadsheets, or VOIP programs, not silly javascript toys.

          Take a look at some of the widgets available for mac os x - many of them are compact, but nevertheless quite fully featured applications, including, but not limited too, terminals, vnc clients, and yep - 3D video games. I can't speak to what kind of object code will be allowed on the iPhone, but while the controller code may be javascript, widgets in the operating system are far more than silly javascript toys.

        • Application development means things like ssh programs, or irc clients, or spreadsheets, or VOIP programs, not silly javascript toys.

          Google Spreadsheet seems to work quite well. If things run as Widgets, rather than web pages, then they also have access to Objective-C libraries, and can easily open a socket (the only thing you need for an IRC program or SSH client that you can't do easily in JavaScript). VoIP might be a bit harder, but since QuickTime will be installed and accessible to JavaScript, I would imagine it would be relatively easy.

  • No more iPhone PDA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Atheose ( 932144 )
    I was debating buying the iPhone and not getting a service--using it as a PDA only. There goes that hope. Thanks, Apple.

    Though I suppose they never have been one to give you what you want.
    • And if they were selling the iPhone at a loss like all other contract cellphones, then driving you and your ilk off has saved them money. Just sayin'.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sciros ( 986030 )
        Seriously, if they are losing money selling the phone at $500-$600, then someone over there is a total moron. The iPhone is hi-tech and all, but it's no PS3.
  • But AT&T is EVIL (Score:2, Informative)

    by svendsen ( 1029716 )
    Too bad the iPhone had to partner with At&T considering all the news about them (filtering content for example). Right now I want to upgrade my phone to one with GPS and turn by turn directions and a few other features. The cost of what I want is high enough that going to a $500 item would not be that hard. Except I have sprint (and a 25% discount from them) and don't want to deal with the hassles of switching numbers.

    Oh well only those with the "evil" AT&T can get one.
    • Any of the carriers will allow you to port your phone number to a different service if you switch. By "port" I mean that they will let you keep your phone number from another service. As I understand it, there is a law forcing them to do that. FYI.
    • hassle of switching numbers? number portability it works and is easy! (at least in my experience)

      I used number portability to get AWAY from AT&T though...
  • Sorry. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iknownuttin ( 1099999 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:26AM (#19505983)
    I'm not getting it because its a Cingular plan. And after reading consumer reports, Cingular/ATT is one of the worst plans you can get. And I don't buy the phone: I buy the plan.

    So, until Apple cuts this shit of giving one provider exclusive sales rights and allows Verizon to sell it, Apple will not have me as a customer.

    • Well, I'll probably get flamed for this, but then what's new?

      I like Cingular. I hate the fact that they're called at&t now, but I've had cingular plans with motorola phones for about 3 years now and I have had maybe 5 dropped calls, and about the same number of times when I've been unable to make a call. I do dislike having to unlock my phones, but then again afaik most providers have that problem. The data plan I use is $20/mo unlimited, fairly comparable to other providers, I think. I could be wrong o
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Apple will never sell a Verizon or Sprint version of the phone. PERIOD. Thats a complete hardware redesign for the radio (same reason the Treo 700p will never show up on a GSM carrier). Apple is after worldwide GSM providers. Not backwater thinking US centric companies like those two. Want to switch to a local number when in Europe? Get yourself a new phone or be raped by Verizon/Sprint for overseas rates. Sure Cingular sucks if you need actual customer support, but I'll take being able to swap my SIM when
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:27AM (#19505989)
    Are there smartphones out there that don't require a data plan?

    For example, with my Treo I'm forced to purchade the $15/month unlimited data plan from Sprint. It's required for all their smartphones.

    So this story seems to be about.... A theoretical contract that is the same as the typical contract and may be unfair if the price is too high (but we don't know the price yet)?
    • by asv108 ( 141455 ) <.asv. .at.> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:34AM (#19506135) Homepage Journal
      Its not about a data plan, the story is that in order to use WIFI on your phone(a non AT&T network feature), you will be forced to sign up for an expensive data plan. The iphone's feature set is dependent on your network contract, even if that feature doesn't use the network.
      • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:10PM (#19507667)
        I thought people were complaining because WiFi wasn't prevalent enough and so EDGE was too slow. Now people are complaining because WiFi is everywhere and they don't want a data plan. Give it a rest! sn't it possible that having data wherever you go, sometimes faster and sometimes slower, via different means, is the best of all worlds?

        Where I live we don't even HAVE 3G yet, so I don't need it. But I welcome the realistic combination of WiFi and EDGE to get the widest possible network coverage and the best possible battery life (3G currently really chows down on batteries). All these things add up to actually being able to make full use of data on the device, instead of carefully hording limited battery or data amounts.

    • Of course that was quite a while ago (two years almost, if I remember correctly). And as far as I know, you could always buy a smartphone (for full-price) and put the CIM from your non-smart (dumb?--that doesn't work for a phone... unintelligent?) phone into it and get phone service on your normal plan and just use the pay-per-bit data.
    • they require a data plan because they don't use regular wifi. they connect to the providers service. the iphone was supposed to have wifi, meaning that it should be able to connect to any AP. apparently, that is not the case and you have to have a data plan to use teh wifi, making it cost more for those who were going to buy it and just use it off wifi as a pda.
      • Umm no, not correct.

        They are doing this to prevent people from buying the phone, and not setting up an account with ATT, otherwise all you have is a over priced glorified ipod. ATT/Apple are pulling out all the stops to prevent people from buying the phone and going to another carrier, since the price is not subsidized, and many people want the phone, and are willing to pay a fortune for it, there is nothing stopping someone from signing up when buying the phone, and then paying the $175 early termination
    • by wiggles ( 30088 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:42AM (#19506287)
      I don't have a data plan on my old T-Mobile Treo 600. I can use all the palm functionality, sync with Outlook, but I just can't browse the web or get e-mail in real time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by will66 ( 1083681 )
      Huh? I have a Treo 600 with Sprint and no data plan. When I first got a Treo 300 through Sprint it had a "2 month free trial" data plan-- which I canceled after 2 months. I later replaced it with a series of treo 600s I've bought on ebay, and have activated without a data plan requirement. Just call them and cancel it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pdawson ( 89236 )
      Yep, in fact my Treo with Cingular does not require a data plan. And I just queued up an order for a 755p on with only the $39.99 regular plan. I think your rep took you for a ride.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by illumin8 ( 148082 )

      Are there smartphones out there that don't require a data plan?

      For example, with my Treo I'm forced to purchade the $15/month unlimited data plan from Sprint. It's required for all their smartphones.

      Yes, I bought an Unlocked GSM Treo 650 a couple years ago, put a SIM card in it from T-Mobile, later decided I wanted to switch to Cingular because their GPRS data was faster than T-Mobile, and I've been using it ever since.

      If you want an unlocked GSM smartphone you just have to buy it yourself, pay the true cos

  • by blueZ3 ( 744446 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:28AM (#19506019) Homepage
    but does this surprise anyone? For-profit companies maximizing profit by locking users in and limiting access to ensure demand--what a shocker.

    Let's face it, if this were any non-Apple or non-tech product we'd all shake our heads at the sad gullibility of the purchasing public and move on. The fact that this is a highly anticipated product that's going to have limited availability isn't anything unusual in and of itself. Apple and Cingular are going to make a good bit of money, which is what they're both in business to do.

    Cellular service providers have made it a practice to "strongly encourage" customers to sign up for multi-year contracts to get a better deal on phones, subsidizing the cost of the phones, for which very few people would be willing to pay full price. The WiFi restriction, if true, is just more of the same.

    In any event, I can pretty much guarantee that there will be hacks to work around this. I've never owned a phone (much less a smart phone) that wasn't hacked to get around carrier restrictions.
    • The problem here is that the iphone is not subsidized. You are correct about the contract issue though, they offer subsidies and significant discounts to entice you to sign a contract. If you have no noticed, all the iphone ads and posters appear to have removed the 2 year requirement statement.

      No one really knows for sure whats happening, and we will find out on the 29th, and I am sure the iphone sales will be phenomenal, but I also suspect a backlash when people find out their paying $100 a month, and t
  • by LordNimon ( 85072 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:28AM (#19506021)
    I was never planning on buying one, so maybe I shouldn't be commenting, but it's bullshit like this why I'm not an "early adopter" for technology, despite the fact that I'm an engineer. I'm amazed at how many high-tech products these days have proprietary restrictions in them. I find it ironic that the worst offenders are communication devices. The iPhone costs $600. Usually, companies form restrictive alliances to keep the price down - if product X only works with service Y from company Z, then company Z will usually give a discount for service Y. But the iPhone costs $600, so at that price you'd think that Apple wouldn't need to partner with anyone.
  • It's rev 1 Apple hardware, I don't want it anyway.

    Besides, my company pays for my BlackBerry, and a lot of companies have invested in BES infrastructure, so they won't be moving to the iPhone any time soon. We have yet to see anything from Apple about how the iPhone will tie into an existing personal database (like Exchange/outlook, for example) and manual sync, even over Bluetooth, just won't cut it for people used to the BES implementation.
  • Here's an idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:31AM (#19506065) Homepage Journal

    Rather than hearing gossip from AT&T reps who almost certainly know virtually nothing about the final details of iPhone marketing (the only information I'm aware of them being provided is a brochure that explains how the thing works), why don't we wait until we get official announcements from Apple and AT&T. Not only are these rumors almost certainly based upon speculation and technological ignorance, but even if both Apple and AT&T have provisionally decided to go with them, there's still a strong chance of them changing their minds in the next week or two.

    It's not even 100% clear if the iPhone will need a contract at this stage. Apple hastily removed language implying such from the online version of their ads, and AT&T has internal codes set up for selling iPhones with GoPhone plans, according to some reportage. This week we've seen Apple at a high-level flip flopping on various issues, such as the pretense of ZFS in Leopard (initially ruled out, then changed to present in a stripped down form), and the ability of Leopard's bootcamp to be used as a switcher between suspended versions of Windows and Mac OS X.

    The final decisions haven't been made yet.

  • This is news? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by volkris ( 694 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:32AM (#19506093)
    This is old news and entirely expected.

    Anyone who thought they could get an iPhone without "appropriate" cellular service will also be disappointed to find out that the iPhone will not grant super-human strength either.

    The iPhone has always been presented as part of a platform that included the cellular service. It was always tied tightly to the network. I don't know why anyone is surprised, then, that purchase of an iPhone comes with the network as well.

    • The iPhone has always been presented as part of a platform that included the cellular service. It was always tied tightly to the network. I don't know why anyone is surprised, then, that purchase of an iPhone comes with the network as well.

      In the GSM world, there is no reason for an instrument to be tied
      to the network, other than the reason that the provider is
      subsidising the cost of the phone. Even in that case, all that
      provider can do is lock the phone. And locked phones can be
      unlocked at a small cost.
  • Granted, we still don't have all the details, yet, but this strikes me as odd in that Apple would let AT&T "force" this requirement on the sale of the phone. Aren't they known for getting deals done that work for Apple and their customers? This doesn't seem like one of those deals.

    I'll soon be in the market for a new phone, and while I'm leaning heavily toward a Treo P model, I'm keeping an open mind for the iPhone, too. However, if they're going to play BS games like this, forget it. I don't need i
  • by Cr0w T. Trollbot ( 848674 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:36AM (#19506183)
    Important: You Must Follow All These Steps in the Precise Order to Obtain Your iPhone. Failure to Do So Will mean Being Denied Entry To the Kingdom of Jobs

    1. Take a number from the iphone number dispenser at the front of the store.
    2. Proceed to the Coolness Evaluation Station. There you will be evaluated on your dress, apperance, and general coolness to determine whether you are worthy of having an iPhone. Among the criteria: A.) If you have a goatee, you may not have an iPhone. Those are so last year. B.) If you are a white man with Chinese or Japanese symbols tattooed on any part of your body, AND you can't read the language it's written in, you may not have an iPhone. Posuers are so lame. C.) If you are wearing a NASCAR shirt, a mullet, or carrying a can of Skoal, no iPhone for you, Cletus. D.) If you've ever owned, or even touched, a Zune, you may not have an iPhone. What's wrong with you? Finally, E. Any woman carrying a small dog with her as a fashion accesory may not have an iPhone. Get a life, Princess.
    3. If you have passed the Coolness Test, you may proceed to the Icon of Jobs in the center of the store. Kiss it thrice and ask for Jobs to bless your purchase.
    4. After kissing the Jobs icon, proceed to iPod/iPhone Acclimation station, where your iPod and your iPhone will be introduced to each other to see if their peronalities are compatible. If you have forgotten to bring your iPod, you may, at the acolytes' discression, buy a new one.
    5. Finally, proceed to the Wallet Weighing Checkout station. Your wallet will be weighed, and must weigh more than a feather, but less than a duck. If it passes these tests, your wallet will be taken and you will be allowed to have your iPhone. No, you may not have your wallet back. Your bank will be able to issue you new credit cards.

    Crow T. Trollbot

  • by El_Smack ( 267329 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:40AM (#19506251)

    "iPhone will not be sold through established business channels -- forcing Cingular business customers to stand in line for their goodies, as individuals, at Apple stores."

    Yeah, man. Like, you gotta wait in line with the rest of us. Hey, you mind if I blaze up? Thanks man. *fffffffttttt* Sure, I can spare a spliff. *fffffttt* Sure, I'll show you my Powerbook, man. Check out that widescreen.

    And another business PC user is converted.
  • Talk about intentionally crippled!

    This just goes to make the iPhone just like every other mobile out there. The manufacturer's putth in great features, and the telcos taketh them away.

    How long before iPhone unlocking code shows up, I wonder.

  • Well, good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Moochman ( 54872 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:54AM (#19506501)
    People, this is a good thing that the data plan will be required. The iPhone would be practically useful without it anyway, which would just result in dissatisfied customers. This way, AT&T will be forced to make their "iPhone plan" halfway reasonably-priced in order to draw customers in, which will in turn help drive down data plan rates from all carriers across the board.
  • by The_Rook ( 136658 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @12:02PM (#19506595)
    the article describing the limitations on the iphone's wifi cites an 'anonymous at&t store manager'. not exactly an athoritative source.

    that the iphone's key features might be disabled without a mobile phone contract is all too believable in light of how mobile phones are marketed by the wireless companies. it's one of the reasons why so many people (myself included) insist on keeping the phone as simple as possible and using a second device for the pda, camera, wifi, and mp3 functions. makes it easy to change carriers also.

    however, before completely going ape over this, i'd suggest waiting until someone in authority actually spells out at&t's contracts and service plans for the iphone, or to see how an iphone actually comes out of an apple store.

    at&t doesn't really need a contract since the iphone only works on their network. granted, the mobile phone company contracts don't require much of the carrier, but why would at&t make any requirements for itself at all when it doesn't have to?

    as for potential ipod users who want iphone features without having a phone contract; i suspect that the iphone is only the first of a new generation of ipods. over the next few years, i expect the entire ipod line will get an iphone makeover sans mobile phone features.
  • AT&T likes the idea of monopolies if the past is prologue.

    I am the guinea pig for my family and companies, and AT&T doesn't realize the power I hold. I can either keep their revenue down, or I can multiply it many times over, in my own small way as a consumer.

    If AT&T tighten the thumbscrews too tight on my iPhone account, my business & my family will not buy iPhones, because I will nix it. After all, my laptop and cell phone right now "does it all".

    Competitors are not going to stand still,
  • It's not going to dent the Blackberry market. Typing on a touch screen is misery. The iPhone is a mostly-output device, like the iPod.

  • Odd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @12:28PM (#19507011)
    Sony releases a Good but over priced product with some restrictions our community feels is bad but supports linux : Corprate arrogance, we will never buy this product. Down with DRM.

    Apple release a possibly good over priced product with many restrictions through a patently evil telecom : OMG best thing since the transitor. We'll buy it at any price, with any strings. If Jobs gives us DRM We'll grow to love it.

    Ahh that RD field is strong as ever.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.