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!

German Court Rules iPhone Locking Legal

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the help-pay-for-the-patent-settlement dept.

Cellphones 146

l-ascorbic writes "A German court has overturned Vodafone's temporary injunction against T-Mobile. Two weeks ago, the British mobile network won an injunction forcing T-Mobile to sell iPhones that were not locked to its network. Vodafone argued that locking is an anti-competitive practice, and sought to force the German network to permanently allow the use of the phones on other networks. After the injunction was granted, T-Mobile offered the unlocked phones for €999 ($1473), and these will now be withdrawn from sale."

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

Already widely published (1)

loadrunner (254519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21581765)

in the German press. Still a bummer...

Allow me to say it. DAMN NAZIS !! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582249)

First it was WWI. Then it was WWII. Now I can't buy a freaking nazi iphone for E1000. Bloody war crime !!

Ich bin ein unlocker (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21581767)

nothing to see here...technical competence will trump DRM every time. Something about information wanting to be free. The US phones are unlocked, the German phones will be too. Just this way, the carriers won't make any money off the unlocking. Remove nose, face, spite. Amazing companies still don't get it.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (2, Insightful)

Radres (776901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582057)

Whoa, whoa, whoa... last time I checked, iPhone was still locked to Cingular here in the United States. Yes, you can go through all the trouble of unlocking your phone, which the average person cannot be bothered with. The point of this story is that the idea of locking phones to plans in Europe is immediately recognized as something wrong by the courts, and here in the United States it is accepted as a common business practice. Why is Europe always so far ahead of us in this regard?

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582069)

Try reading the summary next time, Euroworshipper.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (4, Interesting)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582119)

Why is Europe always so far ahead of us in this regard?

Because they are actually funded directly by the people. And not by corporates.

Take for instance BBC: It is a public funded news organisation and is the exact opposite of FOX. So BBC has no incentive to like corporate-sponsored candidates and they can actually be true reporters.

Take France: They always hate monopolies, hate corporatocracy, hate anything US-mass made. So for them to rule against Apple is understandable.

Germany: Tricky case. The judiciary is fiercely anti-monopolistic but yet corporate friendly. The parliment is neutral and they are bound by EU laws. And secondly German-made products are faaar superior in quality than chinese-products.

Poland: Fiercely anti-monopolistic and strongly pro-consumer. Alarms corporates a lot.

Finland/Norway/Sweden: All these 3 have totally different but radically same policy: As long as its made in EU they support it. If not in EU, they have a NIH syndrome.

Italy: Let them first get their postal service to work.

Belgium: They can't decide if they want to remain an independent country.

To conclude: EU is mostly pro-consumer and is not awed by corporate money power primarily because EU member presidents and parliments are funded by taxes and public funds, and not by corporates directly.
So they can afford to be altruistic !

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582319)

Wrong. the BBC is funded by the government, and has it's own biases. it's no better then FOX

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (2, Informative)

Teun (17872) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582383)

Pff, yeah and that government has it's own money.
It's a licence every owner of a TV or radio has to pay, i.e. The People.

Sure the BBC has it's own biases, show me a truly neutral person.
But at least the BBC can't be bought by corporate greed.

But then your mentioning of Fox on the same line as the BBC makes me fear I've overheard a Whoosh!

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582561)

Sure the BBC has it's own biases, show me a truly neutral person.
But at least the BBC can't be bought by corporate greed.

But it can (and is) "bought out" by government interests. I think the founding fathers of the US would agree that that is far more dangerous.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (4, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582599)

Only in theory. If that happened, it would be a political scandal and BBC would cover it happening. Several governments have tried pressuring the BBC, but all they have gotten so far is bad press.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (1)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583403)

David Kelly [wikipedia.org] would beg to differ.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21584145)

actually, you haven't needed a radio licence for some time (since 1971 I believe). You still get a discount for having a black & white tv though.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (3, Informative)

Real_Reddox (1010195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582707)

Funded, not controlled. we have the same system in Norway, and it really works. NRK (our equivalent of BBC) is no less critical towards the gov't than the independent channels. However, it has no commercial breaks :D

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582869)

NRK (our equivalent of BBC) is no less critical towards the gov't than the independent channels.


Being critical of the government is not a virtue if you do it blindly without any consideration of accuracy. That's the problem with Scandinavian media. The attitude seems to be that their ultimate job is to bash the government. Good reporting is about reporting things the way they are. The BBC does quite a good job ( in relative terms ) , while NRK fails spectacularly and tends to end up on a "the powers that be sucks" crusade.

If you don't believe me, consider how NRK covers the ME situation and compare it to Arab and Israeli media outlets like Al Jazeera or Haaretz. You know your media is fucked up when both Arab and Israeli news have a more balanced coverage.

Al Jazeera: http://english.aljazeera.net/English [aljazeera.net]
Haaretz: http://www.haaretz.com/ [haaretz.com]

Really, calling NRK balanced is ignorant at best.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (1)

Real_Reddox (1010195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582905)

You're right, of course, but my main point was that NRK isn't controlled by the gov't. And the problems you describe goes for all the Norwegian media, and many of the people too, so this isn't NRK in particular.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (2, Interesting)

hughk (248126) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582953)

Some BBC reporters are very good, but typically the best stuff is either on domestic radio (say John Humphrys [bbc.co.uk] on Radio 4) or BBC World. Listening to Humphrys doing an interview is really like hearing a maestro at work, dissecting politicians of all sides for breakfast but sympathetically talking with a disaster victim. Domestic BBC TV seemed not so good on my last visit there (even Jeremy Paxton who handles the late-night news), and actually there seemed to be better coverage of issues in drama than on the news proper.

As for Al Jazeera, they received a lot of assistance from the BBC in the early days and some staff moved across. Al Jazeerah, may be broadly pro-Arab, but it prides itself on not being too close to any particular regime.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (0, Flamebait)

nilbud (1155087) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583561)

Such bullshit, shut the fuck up.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582457)

Belgium: They can't decide if they want to remain an independent country.


Well, if they would listen to the people, they would know. And there are so many governements that one more or less is not realy an issue. :-D

On the other side, locking phones in Belgium is illegal. So that means you have a choice and you pay for your phone whatever you like. Wether you pay 40 EUR or 800 EUR for a phone, is completely up to you and wether you do that with a cheap pre-payed card or with something else is also up to you.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582533)

Belgium: They can't decide if they want to remain one independent country.

There. Fixed.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582901)

Take for instance BBC: It is a public funded news organisation and is the exact opposite of FOX. So BBC has no incentive to like corporate-sponsored candidates and they can actually be true reporters.

Are you completely off your rocker? Its government (tax) funded. Hello McFly, government sponsored media. Pay for it or go straight to jail, do not pass go. Here's another clue if you have to force people (taxes) to pay for something its likely you're satisfying someone elses wants rather than the person whom you are robbing - else you wouldn't have to threaten them to make them hand over their property. Group A decides its going to support group B and takes group x's money to do it. Democracy at its worst, might is right.

Democracy without liberty is tyranny.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (3, Interesting)

veso_peso (1029298) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582939)

Take France: They always hate monopolies, hate corporatocracy, hate anything US-mass made. So for them to rule against Apple is understandable.
Heh, it's quite the opposite. France insisted that competition to be removed from the major EU "goals" from the Lisbon treaty. There are lot of state-run and private quasi monopolies and laws restricting competition, for example in retail and transportation.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582963)

Belgium: They can't decide if they want to remain an independent country.

Of course they can. In fact, they're so fond of being an independent country that they're thinking about becoming two!

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21583119)

The only thing that stops Belgium becoming two countries is that having stand-up comedians joke about noone being able to name a famous Belgian is much preferable to the treatment they'd get from naming their countries Walloonia and Phlegm.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583093)

Wow, at least you are going get a lot of replies...

Finland/Norway/Sweden: All these 3 have totally different but radically same policy: As long as its made in EU they support it. If not in EU, they have a NIH syndrome.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Oh wait... I was going to reply to this how much American products we actually have around, but I ended up deriding the said products in every sentence. Then I started thinking about cell phones and how much the Japanese Nokia knock offs suck ;)
Damn. Point taken.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21583107)

Because they are actually funded directly by the people. And not by corporates.

Take for instance BBC: It is a public funded news organisation and is the exact opposite of FOX. So BBC has no incentive to like corporate-sponsored candidates and they can actually be true reporters.
BBC is a 'corporate'. BBC means: British Broadcasting Corporation.

And yes, the BBC is (British: 'are') publicly funded. But is that really a good thing in itself?

Would FOX be improved if George Bush starting giving it a few billion of taxpayer dollars each year? I don't know about you, but I sure wouldn't be happy with that...

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21583257)

How naive you are. The EU is as pro-corporate as the US, but they of course favor EU corporations. If that were not the case, please explain the EUCD.

Big money rules everywhere.

Okay I'll bite... (4, Insightful)

Critical_ (25211) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582205)

You're actually quite wrong here. I am an American who lived in the UK for more than a year. Mobile phones from the big companies are locked in many cases and its not seen as wrong. A trip down to any High Street will yield a few cell phone unlocking shops.

The more expensive handsets, such as my Nokia E61 or my housemate's Nokia N95, were unlocked. Why? Vodafone's contracts are written differently than any US carriers. When I sign up for a cell phone I agree to pay a lump-sum amount of cash in 12, 18, or 24 monthly payments depending on the length of the contract. Incentives increase with the length of the contract. If I cancel the contract at any time, then I must pay the remainder of the sum and forfeit the monthly payment schedule. In this way, Vodafone is already promised a certain amount of cash in exchange for the handset. They don't care if you leave at that point since they've already made the money.

I really find it disturbing that Slashdot heralds Europe as some panacea in the cell world. It's really not as bright and wonderful as you people try to make it out to be. Ultimately these corporate entities are out to make money within a certain set of rules. Cell phone locking, unfortunately, is a fact of life in the UK. When it isn't, its because of the way the contract is written.

Re:Okay I'll bite... (3, Interesting)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582459)

My understanding is that a lot of American phones are "feature locked" as well, i.e. certain features are disabled in order to force (coerce) you into using the higher-priced Telco features. I've heard really crazy sounding things like Bluetooth being disabled so you can't copy songs to the phone for free, you have to download them from your Telco. Is this hogwash, or does it have some basis in reality?

Also, the phone companies do care if you pay out the contract and leave; a lot of their market value is determined by the number of subscribers they have. While it's true they won't care about an individual subscriber leaving, they do care in the statistical sense.

I'm in Australia and the UK contracts sound similar to what we have. My latest phone (N73) is with 3, and interestingly enough they appear to subsidise the cost of the phone. I'm paying $22 a month for the handset over 2 years, which works out to be a little bit cheaper (around $100 IIRC) than buying it outright would have been. I guess there might be some trick with depreciation, but I was expecting to end up paying more for the phone over the period in exchange for the convenience of lower upfront costs.

I can't remember the exact terms of unlocking in my contract, nor even whether the phone is network locked at all (I think most consumers don't really care, if I didn't like the plan they offered I wouldn't have signed up for it). I think it's free after a certain period of time.

Re:Okay I'll bite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582485)

I am against monopolies, but does Apple have a monopoly on phones or TMobile have a monopoly on mobile service? If you want openness, buy from open vendors (eg: not apple).

Re:Okay I'll bite... (1)

I!heartU (708807) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582879)

Yeah we can't take a crap near our phone without going through Verizon. Sure it has bluetooth, but you can only use it for a headset. No getting pics off/on or sounds off/on it. Usually someone will release a data cable that can go into a usb port, then you can kind of mess with on your comp, but that is extra $$. In the near future it sounds like I'll be able to buy whatever and get it to work on their network though. Due to all this 700mhz band being auctioned and Google trying to buy it up.

Re:Okay I'll bite... (1)

Starcom8826 (888459) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583297)

Only Verizon does that to its phones. The other carriers leave the manufacturer software on the phone.

Re:Okay I'll bite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21583369)

My understanding is that a lot of American phones are "feature locked" as well, i.e. certain features are disabled in order to force (coerce) you into using the higher-priced Telco features. I've heard really crazy sounding things like Bluetooth being disabled so you can't copy songs to the phone for free, you have to download them from your Telco. Is this hogwash, or does it have some basis in reality?

Bluetooth profiles being disabled and song copying restrictions are the norm with Verizon. AT&T/Cingular prefer to remove WiFi off certain phones. They only allow it on their Pocket PC, Blackberry, and Treo devices but they ask (gently force) a data plan onyou. I believe the OP Nokia E61 has WiFi but is not available in the US. We have the Nokia E62 which is WiFi less and lacks the Euro 3G hardware. Generally the US GSM carriers will allow anything to run on their networks. Verizon is the culprit. After some googling, it seems like UK and European carriers have been removing Nokia's VoIP functionality. It seems like these companies are all guilty.

Re:Okay I'll bite... (5, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582507)

The problem is that some people in the USofA see Europe as one country [break.com] . Well, it isn't. Each country has its own laws and political situation.
E.g. In Belgium you can not sell a contract as part of a phone deal. Also the phone can never be locked. You can sell them at the same time, but you can not sell them as part of one contract.

I believe it is the same in Portugal. In other countries the situation is different. The fun part is that because much of Europe is one economic entity, you can easily buy a phone in another country unlocked and no contract and use it where you live.

Re:Okay I'll bite... (1)

S_Guilliard (1198579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582811)

Hmm, the handsets that are locked in the UK (I live in the UK so I know and worked for Vodafone for 5 years) are locked up to the point of sale. After this point, you can ask to have the lock removed (as I recently did after signing a new contract with Orange UK) which will normally cost you around £20 (US$40 at current exchange rates!).

The handset locks are there for a different reason: rather than stopping you using your handset/hardware on another network, Network Operators are ensuring that handsets that have been subsidised (often when buying a mobile phone, the handset may be free if you agree to a contract)cannot be connected elsewhere without first a contract being agreed to with their network; they're protecting their subsidy. However, after this point, getting the unlock code is relatively simple if rather protracted due to the clunky process that exists probably as a result of the lack of people who ask for an unlock code.

Most people don't bother unlocking their handset as they just throw it away at the end of the contract term and get another, newer, more advanced handset when they either upgrade(new contract) or switch networks(new contract).

Re:Okay I'll bite... (2, Interesting)

Builder (103701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582985)

I think you're missing a major point here though... I rely on having unlocked phones and always will, but I still keep to my O2 12 month contract.

I travel in Africa a lot and in many places out there, I cannot roam on my UK sim. So when I'm in-country, I simply remove my O2 sim, put it in my wallet, and load up a local sim.

I couldn't do this with an unlocked phone.

Both O2 and Vodaphone supply phones unlocked (except for the iPhone from O2) and this is a major reason I stick with these providers (depending on signal where I'm living at the time).

Re:Okay I'll bite... (1)

dr_d_19 (206418) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582997)

I really find it disturbing that Slashdot heralds Europe as some panacea in the cell world. It's really not as bright and wonderful as you people try to make it out to be. Ultimately these corporate entities are out to make money within a certain set of rules. Cell phone locking, unfortunately, is a fact of life in the UK. When it isn't, its because of the way the contract is written.

In Sweden phone locking is not unusual, but far from the norm. Getting the phone and a contract separately is no problem whatsoever, which also means that there is a rather big market for used phones (as well as really cheap ones, i.e. $100 without a contract). Lot's of people, especially teenagers, use prepaid cards.

A few carriers (3 most notably) are trying to use (what I call) the American model, where you lock up the phone completely (different firmware etc) and sell software as services (I know for a fact that some of the software they lease to consumers are available for free if you would have same phone but original firmware). That's just not accepted or happening in Sweden. Sure, lots of people use 3, but the tech savvy crowds (or their friends and family) would probably not.

So while it may not be "panacea in the cell world", we seem to have a lot more freedom than other parts of the world.

Re:Okay I'll bite... (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583101)

Ultimately these corporate entities are out to make money within a certain set of rules.

While this is true they can't just behave as badly as their US bretheren, or they'll get a good whacking by some EU commissioner.

Case in point: Their partially outrageous roaming charges where heavily capped this year, since they failed to regulate themselfs in any serious and tiemly manner.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582345)

The point of this story is that the idea of locking phones to plans in Europe is immediately recognized as something wrong by the courts, and here in the United States it is accepted as a common business practice. Why is Europe always so far ahead of us in this regard?
It was my understanding that Germany overturned the injunction against T-mobile which would have prevented them from locking people into an exclusive contract on the i-phones. In that case, I think the point is that Europe isn't as hard on monopolies as it should be. Granted, Europe is better than the USA at going after monopolies but in this case, they didn't follow through for what ever reason. [1000 euro price tag?] it's actually kind of disheartening to see this sort of thing in any country in Europe sigh...

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (1)

Rulke (629278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582837)

The selling of the iPhone locked to one vendor can hardly be called a monopoly... there are other phones and there are other providers, just because that specific combination is not available everywhere doesn't qualify. That is also the sole reason that the court has ruled in favor of the deal. But there is another case open because T-mob might very well be in violation of their license http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1035_22-6219520.html [zdnet.com] and if Debitel succeeds in this case the iPhone will again be free.

Re:Ich bin ein unlocker (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583301)

have you actually read TFA or original post? It actually said that the court overturned the injuction i.e. in your words 'europe is not ahead of you'. We are not better than you are although some people here in EU may like to think so. After all this traveling to get my bread and butter I tend to agree with what has been said about Europe and US in Pulp Fiction - it is just small things that are different but the shit is the same. Alas sucking up the ass of big business by courts and politicians is as advanced here as in USA. Maybe in Germany is even more advanced than in US - for instance: our ex Keiser Gerhard der Grosste Schroeder signs a contract as a Chancellor (cheff of gov.) with a Russian company for which he receives now 300kE a year. The company name is Gasprom and as all other things from this cradle of democracy and human rights that is Russia of today does what mr Putin says is to be done. Now I think this example is better than anything that you, obviously an american citizen, can show us. Indeed we are progressive - American presidents do not do such things (yet?).

About the unlocked phones... (3, Interesting)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21581771)

Will the already-sold phones remain unlocked? Or is another bricking patch on the way?

Made from Jewish slave labour (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21581837)

Of course all the locked iPhones are made with Jewish slave labour, as required by German law.

Re:Made from Jewish slave labour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21581867)

LOL!!!!
:)

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted! Reason: Your comment looks too much like ascii art.

Re:About the unlocked phones... (1)

kryten250 (1177211) | more than 6 years ago | (#21581951)

I'd say unlocked, too much threat of a lawsuit, etc because of the presumably thousands people that bought the phone unlocked. The key is what would keep it unlocked, I bet that will fall into some hands that turn it into an awesome patch.

Re:About the unlocked phones... (4, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582109)

From the article:

In the two weeks since the temporary injunction was granted, T-Mobile sold the handsets without a network contract for 999 euros ($1,477; £719). That price was a significant premium to the 399 euro cost for a phone with a two year T-Mobile contract.

A significant premium indeed, 600 Euro extra NOT to be locked into a T-Mobile contract. For that reason alone, you can be pretty sure that phones sold as unlocked, will stay that way (and functional). Consumer protections are pretty strong in Germany. If a firmware update would re-lock or brick those phones, Apple or T-Mobile would face a class-action lawsuit, and surely lose it.

Probably more interesting is how Apple will provide firmware updates for these unlocked phones, as compared to updating phones that are locked to a specific provider. If it works exactly the same for locked and unlocked phones, that should give clues for a reliable/safe hack (that doesn't risk bricking your phone with future updates). If the procedure is different, that should give good info as to what exactly makes the phone locked. Either way, the mere existence of legally unlocked phones should be a boon for hackers (thank Vodafone for this side-effect of the temporary injunction).

Although it's a nice piece of hardware, I'd rather throw my money at one of these OpenMoko [openmoko.com] phones (when they're released as consumer-ready).

Re:About the unlocked phones... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582799)

There are no class action lawsuits in Germany. Each proud owner of an iBrick would have to sue T-Mobile individually.

Re:About the unlocked phones... (1)

hoover (3292) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583663)

Hm, I'm not too sure about this. Ever heard of the term "Sammelklage" (collective suit)?

Re:About the unlocked phones... (1)

lobStar (1103461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583775)

Another common way is to cooperate and push one "pilot case" though the courts, and then if it loses, pay the court costs for that person together. And if it wins, the defendant will usually choose to settle with all other plaintiffs at the same terms as the pilot ruling.

Re:About the unlocked phones... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21583501)

Probably more interesting is how Apple will provide firmware updates for these unlocked phones, as compared to updating phones that are locked to a specific provider.

Simple. They won't. They will just update the normal locked phone just as they do in the US.

Re:About the unlocked phones... (1)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583595)

If a firmware update would re-lock or brick those phones, Apple or T-Mobile would face a class-action lawsuit, and surely lose it.
Two different things. My iPhone is unlocked, and yet I only paid 399 and have a T-Mobile contract.

You can (could) buy one for 999 without a contract. During the time the injunction was in place, T-Mobile also unlocked your phone (i.e. removed the SIM-Lock) for free if you bought one with a T-Mobile contract.

Why is that not just a technical difference? For me, it means for example that I can use the SIM card from my business phone for business calls without having to carry two mobile phones. Also, it means at the end of the 2 year contract I'm free to choose whatever I like without having to worry about a SIM lock.

reading comprehension (1)

fmobus (831767) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583707)

TFS says:

After the injunction [to Vodafone] was granted, T-Mobile offered the unlocked phones for €999 ($1473), and these will now be withdrawn from sale [thanks to the overturn]."

You said:

You can (could) buy one for 999 without a contract. During the time the injunction was in place, T-Mobile also unlocked your phone (i.e. removed the SIM-Lock) for free if you bought one with a T-Mobile contract.

So, unless the summary is wrong (would be no surprise), it is incorrect to say they unlocked normal €500-contract phones for free; they only SOLD contract-less on a higher price. This is quite normal in Germany: you (mostly) always have the option of buying cell phones without contract at a higher price (I thought it was required by law -- I was clearly wrong). The big problem is that, according to the summary, they will NOT sell the contract-less €999 anymore.

off-topic: can anyone enlighten me why /. does not accept the Euro symbol unless you type the entity €?

Re:About the unlocked phones... (1)

3247 (161794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583753)

A significant premium indeed, 600 Euro extra NOT to be locked into a T-Mobile contract. For that reason alone, you can be pretty sure that phones sold as unlocked, will stay that way (and functional). Consumer protections are pretty strong in Germany. If a firmware update would re-lock or brick those phones, Apple or T-Mobile would face a class-action lawsuit, and surely lose it.
There surely are no class actions in Germany.

However, Germany has a legal system in which it is feasible to sue big corporations as a single person. For example, if you win, the losing party has to reimburse you for court fees and lawyer costs. Furthermore, it's usually the judge who decides, not the money afforded for lawyers.

Claus

Re:About the unlocked phones... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21583545)

Who needs to know? Weren't they priced to NOT sell?

Just another... (1)

int21hex (923711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21581845)

brick in the wall.

German anti-hacking laws? (3, Interesting)

Mukunda_NZ (1078231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21581863)

What about the stupid German anti-hacking laws? Or is it okay for corporations to circumvent this kind of restriction? I'm guessing it probably is... But I wonder what would have happened if it was just individuals doing this, would it have been allowed then?

Screwed like US now! (3, Funny)

r00t (33219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21581871)

The masses will snap up "cheap" phones with evil contracts that can't be comprehended by non-lawyers.

Other phones become a niche product with rising costs. Eventually nobody offers them, because they are less profitable.

You're getting the US cellphone industry. Enjoy!

Re:Screwed like US now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21583353)

No, the US cellphone industry is characterised by poor coverage, regional monopolies, lack of standardisation, restrictive practices and exceptionally poor customer value. The European cellphone market(s) is(are) nothing like that.

Oh please... (1, Insightful)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21581915)

"Apple still faces two lawsuits in the US from people alleging that preventing users unlocking their iPhones is an unreasonable restriction of consumer choice."

I'm sorry, but it's a friggin' cell phone. If you don't like the terms of service then don't buy one. I don't like AT&T so I'm not getting one.

Verizon, on the other hand, is opening up their network and embracing Android, which will hopefully start up the unlocked cell phone market in earnest. Shrewd move on Verizon's part, this will turn up the heat on the exclusivity contract between Apple and AT&T.

I don't use either service, so I don't particularly care :)

Re:Oh please... (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582007)

The "if you don't like it don't buy one" logic only works to an extent, every single time a vendor locks a phone it squeezes the market place a little more. The bottom line is I should be able to do what i want with something i pay for, and apple can fuck off and die if they think their control should extend past the sale (or any vendor for that matter)

Re:Oh please... (4, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582097)

If I had mod points, I'd use 'em. But I don't, so I'll just voice my agreement instead:

If it's my stuff (ie, not leased, or rented, or otherwise owned by another party), then I'll be doing whatever the fuck I please with it, as long as it is legal, and nobody can stop me.

The free market works in a lot of different ways. The same ideology that states "if you don't like the Terms of Service, don't buy it" also states "if Apple doesn't want people fucking with the hardware they sell, then they should stop selling it to people."

Re:Oh please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582419)

If you do want to use the phone with another operator, you must pay for that. If you want a $499 phone you can get it, and pay over the next few years to AT&T, or you can pay the full price up front, and pay the european price of $1499. (999 EUR).

People in the US seems to forget, that they get a discount know, and pays for the phone via the monthly plan.

Re:Oh please... (4, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582467)

You are an idiot, AC. And while I doubt that you'll ever read this, I believe that there are many other mistaken individuals out there who will.

If I sell you something, you're free to do with it as you wish. Whether or not it is discounted (or even sold at a loss) is not a factor in your future use of that item. You own it. It is yours.

For example, there is a grocery store around the corner from my house which has been there since long before I was born. They discount their milk to such an extent that it is sold at a loss, in the hope that they'll recover some of that loss through additional (or future) purchases.

This is really a fairly common practice in retail, at all levels. [wikipedia.org]

Your mentality suggests that it would be OK for the grocer to dictate how one might use that gallon of milk, just because they sold it at a loss, or to punish someone for not buying more profitable items along with it. Both of which would be totally and obviously absurd.

But it is no less absurd when it is electronics instead of dairy goods. They're still just goods being transacted with money.

Your mentality is unhealthy. It defies logic, and goes against thousands of years of property ownership.

Re:Oh please... (1)

remmelt (837671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582813)

You're right and I agree, but you don't have a free market. IANAE so I don't know the definition of Free Market, but Wikipedia does:

"A free market is a market in which prices of goods and services are arranged completely by the mutual non-coerced consent of sellers and buyers, determined generally by the natural law of supply and demand."

They will just turn to leasing them then (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583303)

I seriously doubt Apple would cave in even if told they must be sold without a SIM lock. They would simply redefine the terms of purchase to be a lease. As such they could do what they want. End of contract, phone goes back to AT&T or Apple. They won't care of the condition as the contract terms were just to avoid future lawsuits and keep their lock in.

Like others said, its a damn cell phone. It has convinced me that a touch only interface sucks for a phone and for typing. Sure you can do it but compared to phones with real keys it just doesn't cut it.

Re:Oh please... (4, Interesting)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582389)

The bottom line is I should be able to do what i want with something i pay for, and apple can fuck off and die if they think their control should extend past the sale (or any vendor for that matter)
A little off topic here but the Supreme Court is taking up this issue right now in the LG v. Quanta case. It's a case that asks whether patent owners can impose restrictions on what you can do with a product after you buy it [eff.org] . The law right now says that they can restrict you however they want by using licenses. Many are saying that the Supreme Court only hears cases from the Federal Circuit when they want to reverse them so you just may get your wish.

Re:Oh please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582499)

"The 'if you don't like the license don't use the code' logic only works to an extent. [E]very single time an author licenses code under the GPL it squeezes the proprietary software market place a little more. The bottom line is I should be able to do what i want with something [I] obtain, and the GPL can fuck off and die if they think their control should extend past my obtaining the code (or any vendor for that matter)"

There, fixed it for you.

Re:Oh please... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583635)

The GPL places no restriction on how you can *use* code you've obtained...
It also grants you the right to distribute the code, even modified versions, a right you wouldn't normally have under plain copyright law, but these grants do include some limits.

The GPL may not grant you as much freedom as some other licenses such as BSD, but the way it's structured is fairer overall, and designed to ensure that everyone will always continue to have the same rights to the code.

Re:Oh please... (1)

GenP (686381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582107)

Something about a race to the bottom...ah well, can't be that important.

999 euros?! (2, Interesting)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21581931)

T-Mobile offered the unlocked phones for 999 ($1473)


That's the first thing I had noticed. Is that the true cost for an unlocked iPhone? I had thought selling a phone for $500 is insane, I might have yet to see everything...

Re:999 euros?! (2, Informative)

Descartes (124922) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582051)

It doesn't really surprise me.

If you read some of Apple's statments when they released the iPhone they mention that they're figuring the revenue differently. They said that the revenue from iPhones would be spread out over the term of the service contract. My impression was that AT&T was actually paying Apple a share of the monthly service charges.

It does seem a little pricey anyway. Maybe T-Mobile was trying to discourage people from going for the unlocked phones.

Re:999 euros?! (5, Interesting)

Darth (29071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582723)

If you read some of Apple's statments when they released the iPhone they mention that they're figuring the revenue differently. They said that the revenue from iPhones would be spread out over the term of the service contract.

When Apple said that, they were referring to realizing the revenue for accounting purposes. Apple is spreading the realization of the revenue for the sale of the phone to the customer over a 2 year period. The reason for this is Sarbanes-Oxley.

Due to Sarbanes-Oxley, Apple cannot provide firmware updates to the phone that add features after they realize the full cost of the phone. To avoid a situation like with the 802.11n issue where they had to charge $1 for the update, they spread the revenue over 2 years and can then do firmware updates without running afoul of the law.

The actual price of the phone has nothing to do with this issue and the revenue from the unlocked phones would still have to be realized over 2 years to avoid legal issues with updates.

(basically, Sarbanes-Oxley says you cannot realize revenue for a sale until you have given the customer the entire product. I believe this was in response to Enron's practise of selling its own subsidiary oil, recording a profit from the sale, and never actually shipping the oil. Since they owned the subsidiary, it never complained, and they could turn around and sell the same oil again to someone else.)

My impression was that AT&T was actually paying Apple a share of the monthly service charges.

That is correct. This revenue is not part of the sale of the hardware, though, so it doesn't count with respect to Sarbanes-Oxley requirements.

Re:999 euros?! (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582967)

basically, Sarbanes-Oxley says you cannot realize revenue for a sale until you have given the customer the entire product.
Sounds like someone needs to correct that law's definition of "the entire product", then.

When I buy a phone, the product is simply what's in the box: a handset, charger, manual, and whatever software it comes with. If they release a firmware update six months later, I can't reasonably turn around and say "A-ha! Clearly this is the entire product, and you screwed me over by not giving me this software six months ago!" ... and then do the same thing in another six months when the second update comes out. Logically, the product I paid for only includes the firmware that the phone came with, and anything they decide to give me later is a free bonus.

Re:999 euros?! (2, Interesting)

hughk (248126) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582989)

Not quite true, SarbOx may constrain write-down, but it does not prevent the addition of new features. Apple sees a revenue stream from the air-time reseller - this is the key item. If it doesn't, it needs to realise those costs up front. As far as ongoing firmware updates, these are generally a combination of ongoing support (needed for the lifetime of the warranty or contract) and new functionality. There is nothing to stop Apple from separating the firmware fixes from those that add functionality, but that would cost more. Warranties in Germany for electronic goods are two years as standard.

Re:999 euros?! (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583081)

Errr.. a slight change. Enron persuaded the Feds to allow it to book 20 years of constant revenue in ONE year. Thus if Enron is supposed to get $100,000 per year for 20 years, then Enron was free to book $100,000 x 20 = $2000,000 as as Single year's income.
This facility was allowed to banks for mortgages, etc., and Enron managed to persuade the Fed to do it for Enron too.
Sarbanes Oxley neither prevents nor allows it.
The Feds prohibited energy trading companies to do it.
 

Braindead laws... (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583199)

Due to Sarbanes-Oxley, Apple cannot provide firmware updates to the phone that add features after they realize the full cost of the phone. To avoid a situation like with the 802.11n issue where they had to charge $1 for the update, they spread the revenue over 2 years and can then do firmware updates without running afoul of the law.
...

(basically, Sarbanes-Oxley says you cannot realize revenue for a sale until you have given the customer the entire product. I believe this was in response to Enron's practise of selling its own subsidiary oil, recording a profit from the sale, and never actually shipping the oil. Since they owned the subsidiary, it never complained, and they could turn around and sell the same oil again to someone else.)
Does anybody else think that Sarbanes-Oxley is barking up the wrong tree? Enron moved money without moving product. So regulators react by forbidding to move product without moving money. Hello, anybody home?

Shouldn't they rather regulate the way how companies interact with their own subsidiaries, rather than forbidding to give out "freebies" in general?

You know, there are other kinds of owner/subsidiary abuse that don't involve fake sales. Such as for instance putting employees that are meant to be laid off into a subsidiary, and then just let the subsidiary go bust. Nice way to get around anti-layoff regulations, as the victims have nobody to sue (their employer, the subsidiary, just has gone bust, whereas the real culprit (the former owner of the subsidiary) has no business relationship with them...)

IMHO, Sarbanes-Oxley is a bunch of useless procedures which don't really solve the problem, but nicely scare the people from complaining: "If you bitch too much about corruption, we will pass regulations that are so heavyweight as to make it impossible to do business at all unless you have the administrative resources of a multinational"

Oh, and it ensures a nice revenue stream for the accounting consultants that can offer their services to get companies into compliance. Ironically, it was accounting consultants (Arthur Accenture et al.) who were the main culprit of the Enron mess to begin with. Somehow, I have a feeling that this is not accidental. SOX is not meant to punish the perps, but rather those who ratted on them.

Re:Braindead laws... (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583421)

Yes, they should just have the don't do anything wrong rule. If you do something wrong, you get fined a variable amount, depending on the indiscretion. I don't know why this is so hard for people to get to grips with? They could extend this world to all law, not just business law. Seems simpe to me?

Stopping things like Enron is hard, what don't you understand about this? They haven't just made all these procedures for a joke, it is to make more accountability, and for problems to be seen earlier, rather than years later. Try spending some time in the real world for awhile.

Re:999 euros?! (1)

Xordan (943619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582065)

Price of the phone + price of the most expensive contract for the expected lifetime of the phone (for 'potential loss') :) If they ever needed to justify it, which they didn't and don't.

Re:999 euros?! (2, Funny)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582231)

I had thought selling a phone for $500 is insane, I might have yet to see everything...

Have you seen a dwarf do a fat chick? No? So indeed you haven't seen everything...

Re:999 euros?! (2, Funny)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583011)

I have that movie somewhere....

Re:999 euros?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21583189)

* 300-999 EUR for what?
* You can not customize ringtones.
* You can not send MMS messages.
* You have no voice dialing.
* No video recording.
* No video calls.
* Huge screen is constantly smudgy.
* Being locked to carrier... fuck this!
* No removable battery? WTF!?
* No 3G?
* No speed dialing
* No wireless sync
* You can not select text, copy/cut & paste

and so on and on and on ...

This type of phone usually cost in EU about 100 EUR or a bit less/more. :)

yeah well (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21581935)

i REALLY don't give a damm about the iphone.

and so far nobody i've met gives a damm either.

and $1000 for a PHONE?!?!?!? wtf... it better come with a blowjob attachment for that price.

It does (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582021)

and $1000 for a PHONE?!?!?!? wtf... it better come with a blowjob attachment for that price.

Flash iPhone in bar, and the rest as they say is history.

It's literally the gift that keeps on giving.

Proof of an authorized unlocking mechanism (1)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21581989)

What this (and the requirement by French law) proves is that there is an official means of unlocking the iPhone. I don't think anybody really doubted this, but there's the proof. I wonder how long it will take those smart hackers out there to figure out what changes when an iPhone is legitimately unlocked, and duplicate the result.

Re:Proof of an authorized unlocking mechanism (2, Interesting)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582133)

The official unlock involves a piece of data that is stored on the phone and likely also stored on a server at apple. When you unlock it, iTunes reads stuff from the iPhone, sends it to apples server which looks it up in the database. If the phone is marked "ok to unlock", apples server sends back further data (which is unique to the phone) and iTunes sends it to the iPhone to unlock it.

So short of some kind of hack attack or raid on apples data center (both of which are 100% illegal and will probably get you thrown into federal pound me in the ass prison) you cant find a way to unlock the iPhone the same way as Apple does. You MIGHT be able to brute-force the unlock data for one specific iPhone but that wont help unlock other iPhones.

It's a neat phone, but.. (2, Funny)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582039)

Holy scheize, 999! There's nobody in the world I want to talk to that badly.

      Brett

Re:It's a neat phone, but.. (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582297)

Holy scheize, 999! There's nobody in the world I want to talk to that badly.
That's not the price, that's the number of preprogrammed German girls' phone numbers.

Re:It's a neat phone, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582729)

Have you seen German girls (and I don't mean immigrants)...?

Re:It's a neat phone, but.. (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583021)

Some of us like BBW ;-)

Also, keep in mind they do have GGG (German Goo Girls).

Re:It's a neat phone, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21583525)

I really dig German girls. Those bitches know EXACTLY what they want, and they aren't afraid to ask for it.

Re:It's a neat phone, but.. (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583039)

Holy scheize, 999! There's nobody in the world I want to talk to that badly.
Apparently it's sold for 750 €s in France and should be 100 €s cheaper in six months. 999 €s is outrageous. Presumably the French ones can be used elsewhere.

wait, save some dough, buy unlocked in France (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582101)

Orange promises [pcworld.com] to sell unlocked iPhones in France, as per black letter law. Unlocked Orange iPhones come with all sorts of restrictions - provided that you remain on their network. In other words, they want the power users to go chew up somebody else's bandwidth.

I wonder, though. How unlocked is unlocked? Will I be able to use this in the US? (I'm glad I kept all my surplus Euros from my trip to Germany in '05. Yay for currency speculation! Thanks, Bernanke, and thanks Ali Greenspan for setting this shittrain in motion!)

What's wrong!? (2, Insightful)

GodOfCode (878337) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582257)

I think one cannot really stop Apple(or any other company for that matter) from producing a phone, tying up with a cellular operator and selling it to consumers subject to a specific set of conditions. If the consumers don't like it, they are free not to buy it. I am sure most people can survive without iPhones. :-)

If most of the customers don't buy it (and they can choose not too, since markets are, for the most part, democratic), the product will be forced to disappear or change according to the needs of the market.

So stop whining! If you don't like the terms relating to the product, just don't buy it! It's as simple as that.

Re:What's wrong!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21583231)

I think one cannot really stop Apple(or any other company for that matter) from producing a phone, tying up with a cellular operator and selling it to consumers subject to a specific set of conditions.

One can 'stop apple' you know. One passes a consumer law against selling locked phones, and Apple (sooner or later) has to obey this law. If you'd been paying attention you would have seen that this applies in France, and Apple are abiding by that law.
If you meant 'one shouldn't stop Apple...' instead of 'one cannot stop Apple' then you should have said so.
Incidentally, are you a relative of the British royal family? I just ask because they use 'one' a lot (and virtually no-one else does).

Anti-competitive behaviour (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583271)

Permanently locking a handset to a single provider is anti-competitive. Suppose I sign up on a contract with and get a handset from Provider A, but half way through my contract, I realise that Provider B has a far better deal for me. Now if the handset is able to be unlocked, I can pay out my contract with Provider A and switch to Provider B without having to pay for a new handset. However, if the handset can't be unlocked, there is a significant disincentive to switching providers: not only would I have to pay out my contract, but I would also have to pay for a new handset.



Now unlocking doesn't cause problems for most of the handset manufacturers, because they just sell the handset and that's the end of it. But Apple has negotiated a ridiculous arrangement where they get some of the monthly call/data/service revenue from the providers. If you could easily unlock the iPhone and move to a different provider (or even a different plan with the same provider), Apple would lose this revenue stream. That's why they're so opposed to unlocking. (Note that while I understand the reasons for preventing unlocking, I still think it's anti-competitive and the iPhone should be unlockable.)



I don't know how they get away with the current practice, though. The EU passed laws that were supposed to crack down on anti-competitive business practices in the telecommunications sector. I understood them to mean that providers had to allow customers to buy out of contracts for no more cost than the remaining minimum payments, and were required to unlock the customers' handsets when a contract was terminated (either by expiring or by the customer buying out). Apparently the laws are toothless.

But how popular will the iPhone be in Germany? (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582341)

I mean, it's not like Germany isn't devoid of really good phones already. Hell, I can't imagine them waiting much longer than the Finns for a new Nokia, or the Swedes waiting for a new Sony-Ericsson. What does the US have? That's right, Motorola. And I believe that's why the iPhone is so huge in the 'States.

Re:But how popular will the iPhone be in Germany? (1)

Fluffy Bunnies (1055208) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583149)

I know you're mostly joking but Finns don't actually get Nokias faster than others, except in some cases when Nokia wants to test a model on a small market first, etc. Sometimes Finland is actually behind other markets (take N82 for a recent example). The same probably applies to Swedes and Sony Ericsson.

T-mobile (1)

vorlich (972710) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582409)

in this case is T-Mobile GmbH the German company and not the British Company. Like most Network it is a multi-national corporation. I know this because they are my network and cost only 18 euros per month. From the television coverage of the iphone launch in Germany there were neither massed hordes waiting outside the shops nor people with an excess of brain cells buying the phones. Most looked as if they were unable to rationally distinguish between an overpriced phone and a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Oblig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21582627)

In American phone market, carrier owns YOU! ...and Germany gets invaded by us this time.

France are selling unlocked though (1)

Builder (103701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21582995)

This really isn't that much of a blow from a practical standpoint. Anyone in Germany who wants an unlocked iPhone can just nip over to France and grab one for a FAR more reasonable rate than EU999.

It's more of a problem from an ethical / political standpoint.

No you can't just "not buy it" (4, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#21583769)

"Cellphone contract changed its terms" - Go elsewhere
"But my cellphone is locked" - Buy another phone
"But my music doesn't play on other phones" - Buy music somewhere else
"But my internet connection throttles other music stores' bandwidth" - Get another internet connection
"But all the ISPs do it" - Start your own

See the problem now? ONE of these restrictions is not a problem because you can "take your business elsewhere" , but when you have this bullshit EVERYWHERE then there's nothing you can do. Now before people start mentioning we have unlocked phones. Yes, we have them TODAY , and laws against this bullshit is sensible to ensure we have them in the future. Now if you think the magical "free market" will save the day then you are mistaken on two counts:

a) That we have a free market.
b) That if we had a free market, it would remain free without anybody stopping companies from doing bullshit like this.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?