Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Anonymous Programmers Reveal iPhone Unlocking Software

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the good-luck-getting-paid dept.

Communications 328

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.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

It's not really surprising.. (5, Insightful)

QMalcolm (1094433) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449671)

..that people are going to use their gadgets in ways other than the ones they're 'supposed' to.

Maybe not surprising, but... (4, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450115)

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:Maybe not surprising, but... (2, Insightful)

packeteer (566398) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450183)

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 (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450311)

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:Maybe not surprising, but... (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450227)

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 $1,000 you estimated.

Re:Maybe not surprising, but... (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450333)

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.

Re:Maybe not surprising, but... (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450361)

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 $1,000 you estimated.
Exclusivity is expensive. If one phone provider is the only one to offer this particular desirable handset, then Apple can expect more money, which offsets the manufacturing costs and they can be more profitable while offering the phone for less. Apple marketing and product loyalty is carefully cultivated to generate sales. The phone provider will sell a lot of these, and the profits from people with high disposable incomes and a desire to demonstrate their new toy will generate even more money.

Re:Maybe not surprising, but... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450399)

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:Maybe not surprising, but... (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450477)

You have anything aside from a naked assertion, or are you just throwing that in to stir a little shit?

Third party (5, Insightful)

edittard (805475) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Third party (3, Insightful)

N-icMa (1149777) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449743)

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.

Re:Third party (1)

rcs1000 (462363) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450159)

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:Third party (2)

bilabrin (1127623) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450033)

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.

Re:Third party (1)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450381)

hmm, I wonder what happened to my original comment. Let's try this again.

I don't think Apple will be that relaxed about all of this. From what I understand, they are getting a percentage cut of all contracts from AT&T on the iPhone, so people switching carriers means Apple is losing significant money on this too.

Re:Third party (1)

Slurpee (4012) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450385)

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.

First Post Prevention (-1, Offtopic)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449679)

This post is an attempt to prevent a stupid troll from getting the first post.

U FA1LZ 17!!!!1 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20449711)

ZOMG PON13Z!!111111111

Atleast (5, Insightful)

pakar (813627) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449689)

... here in sweden we are allowed to do whatever we want with hardware that we buy.....

Re:Atleast (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20449793)

Thank you. Please continually update Slashdot with tangents about Swedish Law.

Re:Atleast (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20450059)

pwnd lulz lulz lulz

Re:Atleast (2, Insightful)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450371)

The point he was making is that we live in a global economy and just because the US has a certain set of Laws and legal rulings doesn't mean Sweden has the same; there may even be conflicts in laws where it's illegal to do something and in another country it's illegal not to do it. AT&T helped to make this bright shiney Apple [wikipedia.org] and rolled it out into the party knowing that everybody would want it, they shouldn't get upset because everybody wants it.

When I went to college marketing invovled things like research and excluded things like advertising, my hunch is people who are most likely to be all "Apple, bright shiney, must have" are also likely to be "AT&T , yuck nasty keep away" and the "marriage" was mostly wishful thinking on the part of AT&T's advertising dept. When brands are mismatched, somebody is going to get the short end of the stick.

Re:Atleast (5, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450041)

Yes, but we live in Europe, the Continent of the Free...

What's this free of which you speak? (5, Funny)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450347)

"Yes, but we live in Europe, the Continent of the Free"

Free? What? Do you mean you don't have to pay taxes to kill people in places you can't find on a map?

Maybe not anything (-1, Redundant)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450119)

I doubt if its "anything". Try making a bomb and setting it off in your backyard. Or boring out a disabled firearm.

Re:Maybe not anything (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450271)

Well fireworks are legal to set off in your backyard, they're small bombs...
If the bomb is big enough to damage someone else's property then they might arrest you for criminal damage, but if it just explodes in your back yard and makes a crater in your lawn noone will care.

Re:Maybe not anything (2, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450353)

Hmmm. In the UK people have been arrested for making bombs before they set them off!

Re:Atleast (1)

kebabpizza (1116211) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450277)

You sure? How come I constantly see ads saying stuff like:
"Buy this brand new phone for 1 SEK!!!*

*If you sign a 36 month contract with [some provider], phone is bound to [some provider] for the duration of the 36 months"

Re:Atleast (1)

tmarklund (1030108) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450343)

...and it's still perfectly legal to unlock it to use it with another provider.

Which you apparently cannot do in the US without getting hassled by lawyers (thanks to DMCA).

Re:Atleast (1)

dedo_jozef (660189) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450387)

The providers don't care what you do with the phone (you can sell it and use your own). Just keep paying and they are happy.

Re:Atleast (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20450309)

b0rk b0rk b0rk!

b0000000000rk!!!!!!11!!!!1!

I wonder (4, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 7 years ago | (#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)

locks make no sense (3, Insightful)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:locks make no sense (2, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449747)

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.

Re:locks make no sense (5, Informative)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:locks make no sense (1)

QBasicer (781745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450285)

The corporations do it so that you're force to use their pay service. At that point it's not about making the phone cheaper, it's about making money else wheres. Most consumers don't know what a lock is, and are quite naive to the entire thing, and that's how they get away with it. Even after being explained the limitations and whatnot, they still didn't care.

Re:locks make no sense (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450325)

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 carriers or to upgrade to a new phone and use the old phone on another network or whatever)

Re:locks make no sense (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450301)

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 on contract, and then use it with another operator you would still be paying for the original contracted service. The provider wouldnt lose anything (and probably gain because you wouldnt be using your inclusive minutes). If you break the contract and stop paying, then they can take you to court for breach of contract anyway.
What it does do, is prevent people from going on holiday and using a locally acquired sim. I recently went to another country for a week, and would have liked to buy a prepaid sim locally, not only so i could call people there far more cheaply than using roaming, but also so the people i was visiting could call me at local rate instead of international rate (and i would have been paying for the incoming calls on roaming too).

Preventing the use of certain phone features is just ridiculous, for instance Orange UK disable the SIP client on nokia N95 phones. I would like to use that SIP client when within range of my wireless AP at home or at work to make cheaper calls, especially international calls and calls to internal extensions. Orange disable this to prevent people saving money this way.
BTW, if anyone knows how to unlock an N95 and get this functionality back please let me know.

Re:locks make no sense (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450443)

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.

Re:locks make no sense (4, Insightful)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449771)

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:locks make no sense (2, Insightful)

Rogue Pat (749565) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450245)

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).

Re:locks make no sense (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450303)

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.

Re:locks make no sense (1)

Rogue Pat (749565) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450423)

Possibly, but most regular customers will then just look for the next mobile phone that DOES provide their desired feature set. Third party software is something most regular customers never heard about and don't even WANT to hear about.

If Apple wants to limit their devices thus limiting the usefulness to certain people then those will vote with their money. But third party software or hacks are equally unattractive for most people.

Telcos subsidise the phones locked to them (2, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449787)

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.

 

Re:Telcos subsidise the phones locked to them (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449957)

> I have no idea if the iPhone is subsidised.

An AT&T memo said not, but I don't believe it.

Re:Telcos subsidise the phones locked to them (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450429)

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?

Re:Telcos subsidise the phones locked to them (1)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450003)

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.

Re:Telcos subsidise the phones locked to them (1)

Lord_Breetai (66113) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450049)

I have no idea if the iPhone is subsidised.

With prices starting at $499, it could not be that much of a subsidy. At least compared with other $500+ phones... Everything I've read on the subject suggests the iphone is not subsidized.

Re:Telcos subsidise the phones locked to them (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450151)

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:Telcos subsidise the phones locked to them (2, Informative)

Shashvat (676991) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450193)

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.

Re:locks make no sense (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450315)

still bought their phone so your opinion does not matter.
Not for them and not for you.

Locking is anti-competitive (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20449701)

If the US government had any balls, the hackers wouldn't have to be doing this.

Re:Locking is anti-competitive (3, Insightful)

eiapoce (1049910) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450189)

If the US government had any balls, the hackers wouldn't have to be doing this.
I'd fix it for you:
If the US government backed consumers instead of industry, the hackers wouldn't have to be doing this.

Enrico

Not bounding (4, Insightful)

wannasleep (668379) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not bounding (0)

dave420 (699308) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449837)

Not quite. Just paying is the same as a signature. And as for unlocking your phone not being illegal? It is if you agreed to not do it.

Re:Not bounding (2, Insightful)

aerthling (796790) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449883)

Please excuse my bumbling ignorance, but wouldn't breaking a contract fall under civil law?

Re:Not bounding (2, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449971)

Not quite. Just paying is the same as a signature.

You can buy the phone without a contract. Purchase of the phone does not imply any contract. Purchase of service from AT&T does, but you don't have to do that to get the phone. Even so, the contract is just for cellular service and has nothing to do with your phone. You may wish to unlock your phone so that you can use it while travelling (much cheaper/easier to get a SIM and a pay-as-you-go contract from a local provider than it is to have to get a whole new phone and contract for the duration of your trip). Unlocking your phone may void its warranty (definitely so with a hardware unlock, maybe not with a software unlock), but that's all.

And as for unlocking your phone not being illegal? It is if you agreed to not do it.

Is that written in the contract somewhere? Why would a contract for service govern your phone? You're not leasing the handset. You're purchasing it. The purchase price is subsidized by the fact that you also signed up for a contract (at least in the case of a conventional phone) but on a GSM network the phone is not tied to the contract/network -- the SIM card is.

They are just unlocking a phone people! (4, Insightful)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449921)

"flamebait"???

come on moderators. what are you thinking? the poster is absolutely correct...his spin is somewhat negative, but that's not 'flamebait'.

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450043)

+4 insightful. Wow, that *was* quick.

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (1)

Rogue Pat (749565) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450261)

he big deal is that there are two companies that agreed to a mutually beneficial deal, ripping off their customer
How is that different from most of the other vendor locked-in phones sold in the US?

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450327)

For other phones, the unlocking tools are pretty much common knowledge. There is no single company you could sue.

It's not a legal difference.

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (1)

struppi (576767) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449777)

The big deal is that Apple is trying to create an even greater Vendor lock-in than what was already usual with mobile phone manufacturers / service operator companies. What really bugs me here is that the iPhone is only available with one operator comany and only with one of their tarif models. So with every successful unlock of the iPhone i think "Yeah, in your face, apple!". And, by the way, I am a big fan of apple products. Not typing this from my MacBook pro becaust the company I work at the moment wants me to work on a Windows PC. Anyway, I don't think it is a good thing what Apple does with the iPhone, and this is exactly why I won't buy one.

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450017)

The big deal is that Apple is trying to create an even greater Vendor lock-in than what was already usual with mobile phone manufacturers / service operator companies. What really bugs me here is that the iPhone is only available with one operator comany and only with one of their tarif models. So with every successful unlock of the iPhone i think "Yeah, in your face, apple!". And, by the way, I am a big fan of apple products. Not typing this from my MacBook pro becaust the company I work at the moment wants me to work on a Windows PC. Anyway, I don't think it is a good thing what Apple does with the iPhone, and this is exactly why I won't buy one.


You keep saying Apple is locking people in, but have they said anything to indicate they care about unlocking? It's AT&T getting upset and threatening lawyers, Apple seems perfectly happy to sell you a phone and let you do whatever you want with it.

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450113)

A review of the warranty might reveal what Apple think about unlocking. I don't have one to hand, unfortunately.

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450117)

You keep saying Apple is locking people in, but have they said anything to indicate they care about unlocking?

Apple is doing deals with networks to get a kickback from the data usage of iPhone users. Pulling this off requires that the users be locked in on special tariffs that are only for iPhone users. So yes, Apple do care about unlocking, as it breaks this revenue stream.

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (1)

towermac (752159) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450235)

Normally you'd be right, but in this case Apple would love to trade some future monthly fees when they're flush with cash anyway for more sales and hype. Plus Apple is Steve, and this is ok with him. He hates AT&T with a passion and plans to buy them out of spite in 5 years anyway.

Apple will drag their feet on this as much as possible without breaching their obligations to AT&T.

AT&T is just SBC renamed. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450379)

Remember, AT&T is just SBC renamed. SBC bought the name, and apparently because SBC had such a bad reputation, changed names.

Re:They are just unlocking a phone people! (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450253)

Now hold on there. I don't believe either Apple or AT&T have (really) made any threats over this. The latter was claimed to have made a threat by one unlocking group that has yet to demonstrate a working product and isn't even located within the US, but it's notable that both the group that's the subject of this article, and the kid who used a hardware hack a week or so ago and thus gets credit for being "first" have not reported any threats of legal action. Given the sheer improbability of this (evil mobile operators would more likely sue real phone unlockers) and given the lack of compelling evidence a lawsuit even exists, most people believe that the "lawsuit" is fictional, made up to drum up publicity.

AT&T, so far, seems content to let Apple handle the issue (which is all they can do, because AT&T doesn't have a legal leg to stand on, not having any relationship to people who have yet to activate an iPhone, and not owning any of the IP associated with the iPhone), and Apple seems content, thus far, to either ignore the issue or use technical measures. Apple's room for legal maneuvering is open to question too, given the US Copyright Office has already given a public, explicit, exemption from the DMCA for phone unlocking.

MOD PARENT UP. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450391)

MOD PARENT UP. SquiggleSlash is correct. Thanks, ~/.

God!! The Terrorists are going to kill us all...!! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.....

Re:God!! The Terrorists are going to kill us all.. (1)

martijnd (148684) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450095)

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?

Re:God!! The Terrorists are going to kill us all.. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20450457)

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!

I hope (0, Flamebait)

Joseph1337 (1146047) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449757)

I hope that this will teach Apple that you can`t control everything

Something gained (1)

HillaryWBush (882804) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449765)

I'd say they both knew this was going to happen.

Now, assuming the user experience stays totally under Apple's control (and it will as that is something Apple will and can defend), which of the several quasi-crappy carriers IS the best choice?

AT&T has no real claims (4, Informative)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449781)

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.

Re:AT&T has no real claims (1, Offtopic)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450007)

This is like the Lexmark case were they tried to use copyright law to prevent people from making cheap ink cartridges. The result was that the court ruled that Lexmark was engaged in copyright abuse and Lexmark lost all copyright protection on the code in question.

http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/Lexmark_v_Static_Co ntrol/20030108_lexmark_v_static_control_components .pdf [eff.org]

This is actually good for Apple (4, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449813)

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.

Re:This is actually good for Apple (1)

Arrawa (681474) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450025)

More people will buy the iPhone, but apple has a revenue sharing contract with AT&T. They get a piece of the turnover AT&T makes from customers with the iPhone. If you only buy the iPhone and use a different provider, Apple won't see anything from your calls...

Re:This is actually good for Apple (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450141)

Oh no! Whatever will they do now that they only have the $400 that people will pay for it?

I can easily imagine whatever miniscule cut AT&T throw them for calls will be dwarfed by the profit from large amounts of people buying an iPhone they can use on any network.

Run that buy me again? (4, Informative)

delire (809063) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Run that buy me again? (0, Offtopic)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449877)

If you're in ancient Rome, you'd have to kill a lion first before you hear the Emperor say "Unlock his iPhone!"...

Re:Run that buy me again? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20450105)

Actually, last I checked freedom cost $1.05

Re:Run that buy me again? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450177)

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.

Re:Run that buy me again? (1, Informative)

nsebban (513339) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450455)

The OpenMoko product, as much pro-consumer as it can be, is very far from being consumer-ready.

Great, but aren't they missing something? (3, Insightful)

AccUser (191555) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449867)

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.

Re:Great, but aren't they missing something? (1)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450447)

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.

Re:Great, but aren't they missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20450473)

> Sure, basic call functionality and SMS is available with all operators, but what about the other features, such as the visual voicemail?

Visual voicemail is the *only* AT&T-exclusive service for the iPhone.

Big question is how much will they charge? (2, Interesting)

orlinius (181137) | more than 7 years ago | (#20449901)


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.

Re:Big question is how much will they charge? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450273)

He should probably settle for a more moderate fee. At 20 bucks, people will buy it. At 100 bucks, people will bother to torrent.

Will it be fully functional? (5, Insightful)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450075)

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?

Re:Will it be fully functional? (1)

gr84b8 (235328) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450283)

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?
As documented above, at the very least the visual voicemail won't work (which, especially for folks who get a lot of voicemail, is a very nice feature)

Also, what happens when Apple pushes out an update that disables this hack.
With iphone software hacks apple has forced a refresh if you try to upgrade the firmware (i.e. they have brought the phone back to factory settings). Not sure if that will be their continued strategy.

iPhone in Europe (2, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450085)

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:iPhone in Europe (3, Informative)

IndieKid (1061106) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450153)

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 Orange, T-Mobile etc) into the phone.

I don't think locking phones is illegal in the UK, but I'm fairly sure unlocking them isn't either, as you can wander down any high street and see people advertising unlocking services in store windows.

Re:iPhone in Europe (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450317)

I had a Blackberry 7290 from Vodafone, it was most certainly sim-locked to vodafone. It cost me about GBP3 to get it unlocked.

Re:iPhone in Europe (1)

IndieKid (1061106) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450373)

That's interesting to know, thanks for the correction. I wonder whether Blackberrys are a special case as there may be network specific configuration in order for the e-mail functionality to work as expected?

Re:iPhone in Europe (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450191)

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...).

Re:iPhone in Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20450329)

In Finland it's illegal to lock phones to certain contract for 12 or 24 months, UNLESS it's a 3G phone. So all GSM phones must be sold without operator contracts and unlocked.

but it's pretty different in all countries in EU...

Re:iPhone in Europe (1)

J0nne (924579) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450427)

It's certainly illegal in Belgium. You can't buy phones that are locked to one provider here (and this is a good thing).

Other telcos should support it (1)

greyblack (1148533) | more than 7 years ago | (#20450425)

Other telcos could start supporting the extra functionality like voicemail for the iphone. Then we will begin to see ads like "works with iphone!", and apple would start to sell their own (better looking) crack.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?