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Can Apple + AT&T Shut Down iPhone Unlockers? 318

Posted by kdawson
from the cell-phone-contracts-are-not-copyrighted dept.
aalobode writes "Do Apple and AT&T have the legal right to stop hackers from selling unlocked iPhones? Under their terms, only AT&T may sell iPhones, and Apple gets a commission. When unlocked iPhones are used on other providers' networks, AT&T and hence Apple get nothing beyond what they earned on the initial sale of the hardware. Can they prohibit unlocking? Reselling? The article in Businessweek gives the for and against arguments, but leans toward the view that the hackers may have the law on their side for once."
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Can Apple + AT&T Shut Down iPhone Unlockers?

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    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aramgutang (620327)
      I find the following line from the article interesting:

      Analysts believe Apple may still have time to modify the iPhone to tighten its locks before the phone is launched in Europe.

      Since some European countries, such as Finland, do not allow the sale of phones that are locked to a provider, and many of the other countries have regulations that require operators to unlock the phones they sell on request, or after a certain (usually pretty short) amount of time, wouldn't Apple need to use the time they have t

  • by conspirator57 (1123519) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:51PM (#20387127)
    I bought a computer and have the right to modify it and subsequently turn around and sell it? Amazing!

    What will I do with this new-found freedom? ...the same thing we do every night, Stimpy: try to take over the world!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Its Pinky not Stimpy, but both are great cartoons
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I bought a computer and have the right to modify it and subsequently turn around and sell it? Amazing!

      What will I do with this new-found freedom? ...the same thing we do every night, Stimpy: try to take over the world!

      The issue isn't necessarily as simple as that. While I do think the DMCA is mostly crap to begin with, it's what the country is currently abiding by so it's what we have to look at.
      FTA:

      Experts believe that AT&T and Apple will point to the DMCA's section 1201, stating that "no person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title."

      Apple did take technological measures to assure their business agreement with AT&T was fulfilled and they do have technological measures to assure their device is not tampered with so there is actually quite a bit of room on Apple and AT&T's side for debate.

      The article does make a good point though that this is si

      • The article does make a good point though that this is similar to car stereo manufacturers purposely producing stereos that would only work with their cars and preventing others from making such stereos. Because the carmaker was the only manufacturer of the stereo, they could charge whatever they wanted because of their forced monopoly in the market.

        The case is similar because of the control circumvention, but one point the article did not point out is that case is also very different because there is no forced monopoly.

        The car was the initial base cost and the stereo (when it breaks or needs replacement) was an uncompetitive and forced monopoly. In the case of AT&T, the iPhone is the base cost, but you still are given competitive rates. If AT&T began charging much more than usual rates strictly for iPhone customers, then the case would be identical, but because of other offerings it does not produce the same monopoly. If this were any other phone but the iPhone with network circumvention nobody would even care (I know because almost all phones are only made to run on one network.) Some may also argue this to be a bad business decision and plan to "liberate Apple from themselves" by hacking the iPhone, but if they made a bad decision, the best way to let them know is to not invest in their product which is already being done looking at iPhone sales.

        Nevertheless, I think this case may be more of a nail-biter than most slashdotters would like to think.

        I don't think this case will actually be prosecuted. I think a cease and desist letter or three would be sent, perhaps even a website take down demand but nothing much beyond that. It seems to me that there is a precedent for modification here that would polarize a whole lot more than just locked down cell phones or related technology's. What about GM telling me I can't pimp my ride? What about any other modification that expands or changes a product from the original manufacturers intention.

        • Nah, not even a website takedown - this sort of thing is allowed due to the clause about being able to violate the DMCA for interop.
      • What copyright is being infringed by making calls on another network? Why does the DMCA have anything to say about soldering an desoldering to achieve network independence?
      • by Experiment 626 (698257) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:13PM (#20388375)

        Apple did take technological measures to assure their business agreement with AT&T was fulfilled and they do have technological measures to assure their device is not tampered with so there is actually quite a bit of room on Apple and AT&T's side for debate.

        The DMCA prohibits circumventing technological measures that protect a copyrighted work from unauthorized duplication, not measures that protect a business agreement from becoming unprofitable.

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:52PM (#20387149) Journal

    So will Apple and AT&T's legal action deter hackers? Hardly. Individual users are already allowed to unlock their own phones under an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that the U.S. Copyright Office issued last November.
    ha ha
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:52PM (#20387157) Journal

    only AT&T may sell iPhones

    Wrong. Apple sells iPhones (through their website and retail locations). The phone isn't activated at the time of sale (it's done at home with iTunes). AT&T announced 146k activations when Apple announced 270k iphones sold. You do the math.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I agree with you, but Apple's figures probably include inventory sold to AT&T and people buying them for use on WLANs, as toys, etc.
    • by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:57PM (#20387227)
      You do the math.

      (sqrt(270000) * 146000) / pi = 24148205.619474491768596100626108
      • by deander2 (26173) * <public@@@kered...org> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:25PM (#20387697) Homepage
        haha....omg, who are the morons who moderated this informative? =p
      • I did the math.

        24148205.619474491768596100626108 / pi = 7686612.58227964
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The question:

        Form a square with every iPhone sold and mark the phones that are in the first row. Make a phone call from every marked iPhone to every activated iPhone. Place the phone bills in a circle, what is the circle's diameter?
        • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:39PM (#20387899) Journal
          The question:

          Form a square with every iPhone sold and mark the phones that are in the first row. Make a phone call from every marked iPhone to every activated iPhone. Place the phone bills in a circle, what is the circle's diameter?


          If that is the question, then the answer is wrong. You cannot place a call to your own phone.
          • by IBBoard (1128019)
            Yes you can, it just normally ends up dropping straight through to answer phone. Okay, it's not useful, but you can normally do it.

            Unless these strange American "cell phones" work differently to British mobile phones and have some additional check in the number as you dial it.
          • by TubeSteak (669689)

            You cannot place a call to your own phone.
            I dialed my own number and went straight to voicemail.
            /It's not a bug, it's a feature.
            • by peragrin (659227)
              actually on AT&T that is the feature. caller ID combined with voicemail. You dial your own number on an AT&T phone and it connects to the voicemail box to allow one to hear messages. No pins needed unless you call form an outside phone.

              downside is that anyone who can spoof the callerID properly can access your voicemail.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Firehawke (50498)
                I doubt they use Caller ID data, since that's so easily spoofed. They probably use the much more secured cousin called ANI. When I worked at AT&T back around the 1999-2000 time frame, we used ANI on pretty much every call. While we were unable to use it as sole verification of who was calling, ANI had a 95% successful ID rate for telephone lines and the remaining 5% was 'no data'-- never did I see an incorrect entry.

                If AT&T could do this on lines coming from the Baby Bells, I certainly believe they
          • by Chyeld (713439)
            You assume the phones in the front row will be activated and not 'freed'. If they are freed, then they don't count as activated and thus the probelm is still solvable.
      • You forgot to carry the 1.
  • by TimmyDee (713324) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:56PM (#20387205) Homepage Journal
    If the group that has the real iPhone unlocking software does get hit with a legit lawsuit and has to cease and desist, here's to hoping they release it for free along with the source. What's to say they can't? At that point, they aren't selling something. Maybe they could take donations? IANAL, but I think such a move would be feasible.
    • Oh look, someone has dropped his iPhone in this box! And they left a note with a name and phone number!

      (Some time later)...

      "Do you have the info?"
      "The info is right here in this envelope, it will cost you $150."

      On the envelope:

      (There's a key for a locker, and a paper.

      On the paper:

      "Your unlocked iPhone is in locker #4335 on building XYZ, the combination for the lock is 45-34-27-2."

      (Later, on the building:

      "Hey, look, the iPhone i had accidentally lost! How kind of them!"

      (Is this actually legal, or is there a
  • ...Apple insisted on the $600 price tag!
  • a thought (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:58PM (#20387241)
    Collecting bonus money from activations isn't really in Apple's business model. So why should they even bother with trying to hault cracking of the iPhone? The product has already been sold. Apple made their official dollar off of it. Their interests should really die there. It's not like crackers are replacing the Apple components of the software; just defeating the AT&T parts.

    Here's an article that better explains my point of view [com.com] because I'm an ineloquent rambling idiot.
  • by mcmonkey (96054) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:59PM (#20387257) Homepage
    Not for nothing, but when the next gen iPhone comes out and it's store activation only and not home activation, you'll know why.
    • That's exactly the point. Apple, if they wanted to, could wait until the ink dries on your AT&T contract before they let you get your grubby little hands on an iPhone. But they don't; they want to sell the device as an upscale impulse buy. Walk into a store, walk out with a shiny little box, and worry about having to pick a plan and sign a contract later, even though that's the only way you can use the phone.

      They can't have it both ways. Either the phone is yours to hack (under the DMCA exception for in
  • by JustNiz (692889) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:00PM (#20387275)
    I guess it comes down to who owns the phone.

    If when you buy an iPhone you are actually buying the ownership to the phone, you can do what the hell you like to it as its yours.

    but...

    If Apple are just selling a licence to use the iPhone (kinda like what Microsoft do with Windows) rather than actually selling the ownership of the iPhone itself, then they could legally and justifiably require you not to unlock it as they still own it.

    • by gfxguy (98788) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:23PM (#20387653)
      I don't think they can do that, though. When you buy software, you are generally paying for the "right to use" the content on the media. You're allowed to microwave the disc, throw it out the window, make artwork out of it... you're just subject to copyright rules about the contents.

      What you're looking for is if the end user agreement prohibits modifying or loading new software. I'm sure it prohibits modifying software, but if it's just a matter of a simple hardware hack and ADDITIONAL software, I don't see how there can be a legal standing against.

      Probably the reason is because I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me precedence is on our side.
    • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:18PM (#20388439)
      I guess it comes down to who owns the phone.

      If read the fine print correctly I apparently leased an Alco2Jet® Carbonator. [sodaclubusa.com] On the other hand, I never signed a contract of any kind and I refuse to acknowledge an EULA for hardware I buy.

      I assume Sodaclub wants my money for their hardware, wants still to poses "my" hardware and wants to charge me for refills.

      That last point alone is a reason to "illegally" fill my own "Alco2Jet® Carbonator" with cheap and illegal CO2. And when the secret police shows up at my door step I will tell them to piss off, fry on the chair for that and thus die a martyr for the right to own.
    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:16PM (#20389357)
      When I buy a Xbox, I can do whatever the Hell I want with it too. But that hasn't stopped The U.S. government from raiding [escapistmagazine.com] companies that make mod chips for the Xbox.
  • Do I own it or not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by backslashdot (95548) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:00PM (#20387281)
    If it's illegal to unlock the phone, that means I dont own it. Am I leasing it? How the hell else is it possible for me to outright purcahse something and not be able to do whetever the hell i want with it (besides to commit something that is already a crime obviously -like throwing it at someone).

    If I buy a t-shirt can they make it illegal for me to use it as a rag?

    Is it illegal to color the iphone with a marker? Is it illegal to open up the iphone and melt it down? Is it illegal to take the battery out of the iphone and use the large battery in a hobby RC car project? If it is, it damn well shouldn't be.
    • Can I sell you shirt that let's you get into a club, and then make legally prevent you from walking into other clubs with that same shirt? Furthermore, can I legally prevent you from coloring stuff on the phone (the club owner can prevent u coming in with a funny colored shirt though)?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      "Is it illegal to open up the iphone and melt it down?" Is it illegal to blend it [willitblend.com]? :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MikeBabcock (65886)
      Its strange really, if you're an american its illegal to defeat copy protection software or hardware on your own devices under the DMCA, so congress apparently believes it has the right to restrict usage of your own private property already.
  • Simple Echnomics... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jellomizer (103300) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:01PM (#20387297)
    It is simple economics. The full-price of the iPhone (The physical cost of the phone+the hidden cost of being stuck to AT&T, in terms of rates, service availability, contracts...) is higher then the economical efficiency point. So what happens is black market activities. Hacking the phone to work on whatever carrier they want, so they get a better value from the phone. Now is it legal, I would think so yes Apple and AT&T are loosing money from the deal but that is the cost of doing business realizing that people are not going to play by your rules all the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cowscows (103644)
      I think it's less about economics and more about technically inclined people enjoying one of their hobbies, messing around with technology. There's just a lot more news bits about this because of the hype that Apple and the iPhone have been through.

      Just about every mobile phone ever made has probably had at least a few geeks pull it apart to tinker on the insides, you just didn't hear about it unless you went looking for the information. But in the case of the iPhone, Apple (and others) have already done th
    • Now is it legal, I would think so yes Apple and AT&T are loosing money from the deal but that is the cost of doing business realizing that people are not going to play by your rules all the time.

      If you bought it without a 3yr AT&T deal then At&T lost a potential customer but Apple lost nothing. If you bought it with a 3yr deal then AT&T and apple have lost nothing. AT&T may attempt to extort Apple to lock them down better or differently or per sue unlockers individually but Apple is in a
  • I was going to buy an iPhone so I'd be able to eliminate one of the devices I tote around with me (an ipod). Unfortunately, I do a lot of traveling to China and not having the ability to pop in a local SIMcard was a deal breaker for me. Paying ATT's outrageous international roaming charges wasn't an option. So, if the unlocker becomes available, I'll purchase one of these phones. If not, I'll just wait for one of the Chinese knockoffs to appear at my local shopping mall in Beijing. I'm sure they're alr
  • Warranty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sgauss (639539) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:02PM (#20387315)
    Since unlocking involves some soldering and such, at least according to the account I've heard, clearly it violates the warranty. And don't forget, the iPhone has a soldered in battery; you're supposed to send the phone in after a year to take care of the battery. So, if it breaks or the battery dies, your unlocked iPhone is a very expensive paper-weight.
  • Apple + AT&T? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nastard (124180) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:02PM (#20387323)
    AT&T, sure, but why the hell would Apple want to stop people from unlocking these?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Selfbain (624722)
      They get royalties from AT&T.
  • "Think Different," wasn't it?
    • Actually, it's "Think Slightly Differently From The Market Leader, But All In Lockstep With Each Other".

      For all of Apples faux non-conformity, they are really not very different from companies like Microsoft, except perhaps the fact that they actually make stuff people want. At least Apple continues to earn its single-digit market-share. Microsoft hasn't earned anything in about a decade.

      On the other hand, they can litigate and stomp all over users with the best of them.

      • by imroy (755)

        Microsoft hasn't earned anything in about a decade.

        Oh, come on. Toolbars have got to be worth something.

  • The answer is yes. If the answer is no, see the first answer. Seriously, does anyone really think Apple and AT&T are gonna be like, "It's cool, go ahead and resell your hacked iPhone." They will find some way to shut it down, even if it means adding a hardware change to the iPhone.
  • So the law may allow hackers to unlock iPhones they purchased and use them anywhere in the world. Wow, cool, there are laws that protect the consumer after all!

    Hackers also unlock video game consoles with mod chips to play backups of the games they purchased* and play games from anywhere in the world, yet they get raided by the FBI and their international equivalents.

    I guess TFS was right to say "for once." Because evidently one law is all we get to protect ourselves from companies happily selling us things
  • The question really is not can they, it's _should_ they? They're liable to alienate a lot of potential customers if they start cracking down on everyone. I understand that it's a losing money situation, but they might stand to lose a lot more if they start crying foul left and right about this. Either way, it seems like it'll be hard for someone to immediately get T-mobile service on their hacked iPhone, but I could be wrong - I'm looking forward to the first story of someone who goes into a T-mobile sto
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:12PM (#20387477)
    I would say that under Doctrine of First Sale, you can do what you want with it once you own it.

    However, manufacturers have managed to prevent you from modding your game console after you own it, or at least prevent other people from selling you mod chips and modding services, so now it's murky.

    Wouldn't Ford love to only have you put Genuine Ford Advantage replacement parts in your car? They can't. Nor can they force you to only buy Ford approved gasoline from licensed dealers.

    Yet Apple can't prevent you from putting non-iTMS purchased music into your iPod -- although that's probably because you'd never have bought the iPod if you couldn't rip your own albums and play them in it.

    So what can, and cannot, Apple and AT&T do here? Besides scaring off potential unlockers, whatever the courts are willing to allow them to get away with. Clearly these days, there is no bright shining line of what's allowed, and what isn't.

    Loan your new CD to your friend to listen to and the RIAA probably won't come knocking. Let him get the tracks through KaZaA and you may have an ugly time of it. Nobody knows the real rules any longer!

    • by discord5 (798235)

      Genuine Ford Advantage

      Dear driver, you might be using a counterfeit engine. Contact Ford immediately to verify that your engine is indeed a real one, and not some piece of cardboard with "VROOM" written on it. Keep your credit card handy. You will have to wait at least 5 seconds every time you want to start your car, and every now and then your windshield wipers will pop up into view to remind you that your honestly purchased car may not contain a true Ford engine.

  • Once iPhone is unlocked, there will be much more customers worldwide to buy it, not just AT&T.

    TO boost the initial entrance into the market, Apple chose an exclusive carrier, but I don't think it's a long-term strategy. Isn't unlocked iPhone going to give Apple more revenue and market share? Of course right now it's bound by its contract with AT&T so it could not do so yet, but if someone else does it for Apple, why wouldn't Apple secretly love it?

    And so does AT&T have the right to sue?
  • Mod Chips (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thomas.galvin (551471) <slashdot@EINSTEI ... minus physicist> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:14PM (#20387525) Homepage
    So why is this legal and mod chips illegal? What's so special about computer hardware when it's got an MS or Sony logo on it, as opposed to an Apple or AT&T logo?
    • So why is this legal and mod chips illegal? What's so special about computer hardware when it's got an MS or Sony logo on it, as opposed to an Apple or AT&T logo?

      Precedent. We know both situations are technologically the same but in court cases concerning these technologies haven't. Also the difference may be how vigorously they are defended. Apple makes money both ways but MS/Sony/Nintendo loses money if piracy is too easy. AT&T may lose potential revenue as well but since it's not their technology
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by radish (98371)
      Intent.

      The purpose of a modchip is to disable or circumvent a copy protection mechanism built into the console. The DMCA makes anything designed to do this expressly illegal.

      Unlocking a phone has nothing to do with circumventing copyright and hence an iPhone modchip (if such a thing existed) would be legal. However, a software based unlock is more interesting as the DMCA also generally forbids modification of binary software (e.g. reverse engineering) except in certain circumstances. Luckily I believe one o
  • How long before I can walk into a T-Mobile shop, and buy an iPhone with a T-Mobile sim and only pay $10 more, and considerably less on the contract.
  • I am all for hacking the iPhone, but if the hackers sell these unlocked phones, are they going to give any sort of warranty on them? I mean, the idea of a kid with a soldering iron making and breaking circuit board connections sounds like the phone might break sometime in the near future. Then what?
  • To me, this seems like an issue that could be an important legal precedent, but that, in practice, should be a non-issue for individual users. Realistically, why should Apple care, considering that this is unlikely ever to get popular? The percentage of people modding their iphones like this is likely to be about as big as the percentage of people buying a mac so they can run Yellow Dog Linux. To make that percentage even smaller, Apple can announce that they refuse to give you support if you modify the pho

  • Subscription fee (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:25PM (#20387693) Homepage
    When you sell a mobile phone below cost, you are supposed to make up for the difference in the subscription fees. Which are mandatory to pay in the binding period even if you unlock the phone and use it on another net.

    At least that is how it works with GSM phones in Denmark. You can unlock them and switch to another provider legally, but you have to continue to pay the subscription fee for the binding period. This is common, and accepted by all the service providers.

    Also: The maximum binding period is six month, providers are obliged to tell the unlock key after that, and all advertisement must include the minimum total cost in the binding period (initial price plus subscription fee for six month) in order to make it easy to compare prices.

    Good regulation does wonders to improve the efficiency of a market.

    • When you sell a mobile phone below cost, you are supposed to make up for the difference in the subscription fees. Which are mandatory to pay in the binding period even if you unlock the phone and use it on another net.

      The phones being unlocked were likely bought at full retail. Honestly even if Apple sold at the subsidized price they'd still likely make money. Apple generally sells high margin products. Do you really think an iPod costs $399 in raw materials and labor?

      I doubt anybody bought the 3yr contract
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jesco (598308)
      You're right. And because of the fact that you pay the subscription fees whether you use the phone or not, the phone doesn't even need to be locked. I can plug in any SIM card I want into my phone and use it, not the just the one from my original provider. (applies to me in germany, at least)

      All parties got their money, both Apple and AT&T. And quite a lot of it.
      So I think they are really overdoing this digital rights thing by additionally locking the iPhone to AT&T cards.
  • Future new phones certainly have to compete with iPhone's good features, and one of the ways they can do that is to start selling all their new phones unlocked and advertise them as such.

    Cell phone companies may not like it, but what it the fear? People pick a cell phone "provider" (I hate the word) because they get the coverage they need & quality of connections or they pick another one. It is always up to the "provider" to be able to compete, so they have to continually improve.

    For the user who want
  • property is a convention. we all agree there is some mapping between resources and people (entities) that "own" them. well, most of us agree, except the thieves. in the old way, resources were all physical things, mostly. people traded items for money, and the item went from one owner to another.

    increasingly, many companies have found that the common understanding of property does not work very well any more. informaion is more easily copied than transferred - and the recipient has a lesser right usual
  • Can't Use DMCA... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maz2331 (1104901) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:35PM (#20387839)
    They certainly can't use the DMCA to block the unlocking. This is almost identical to the Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc. case a couple years ago. Basic upshot of that ruling is that DMCA doesn't cover hacking to unlock a device for interoperability and third-party components.

    If they try to sue using DMCA, they will almost certainly lose.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...is actually just pulling one of the address lines high so reads are always from a writeable rather than read-only area. If it were true that this 17-year-old were a lone hacker, I'd certainly label him precocious (this is a compliment!), but he admits to having at least three other players, and the hardware technique itself is trivial to a seasoned EE.

    What he has done immensely well is put various people's work together with their agreement, including some of his own, and explain the process, then give a
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:11PM (#20388353) Homepage Journal

    This product is not "merely" a phone, and the success of conventional unlocking techniques can't be relied upon indefinitely. Just look at the multitude of copy-protection (i.e. anti-interoperability) techniques that various industries are legally allowed to implement (even legitimized by laws like DMCA) and you will get some whiff of the disgusting things that Apple could put into a software update.

    Sure, workarounds for these things will happen, but it won't exactly be easy, and it'll keep the users who take advantage of them at a disadvantage for purposes of (legitimate) software maintenance.

    There's considerable precedent for the law allowing phone owners to use their phones however they wish, so I don't think that is worth worrying about.

    If you want to worry about phones, the real issue is that you don't know what they're doing. [com.com] I think that phones are going to become THE poster-child for the risks of proprietary software, in a way that makes concerns about desktop operating systems, printer drivers, etc, seem trivial and superficial. The need for open and trustworthy phones is extreme, even if Joe Schmoe doesn't get it yet -- and the government is helping us quite a bit these days, in revealing that urgency.

  • Apple's viewpoint (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PureCreditor (300490) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:31PM (#20389627)
    Apple actually wants people to unlock the phone. If we assume that customers who unlock the phone for T-Mobile would not subscribe to AT&T ever, then Apple should consider it an extra phone sale (close to 50% profit margin on the hardware) instead of a lost revenue stream (shared with AT&T).

    Also, unlocking the phone might void the warranty, saving Apple even more costs down the road.

    While Apple might not have the legal grounds to prevent unlocking the phones, they can make the unlockers' lives a living hell. Most phones never require a firmware upgrade once they're released (and thus are feature-fixed). But the iPhone prides itself on bug-fixes and new features available via firmware upgrade. Apple probably have the rights to refuse to firmware-upgrade any unlocked phones.

    Or perhaps Apple can force iTunes to refuse even syncing with unlocked phones, thus making loading music/pictures/videos a huge pain. But why would Apple want that? Any device that can access iTunes Music Store is like free money for Apple.

    My bets will be if anyone is upset over the locked phones, it should be AT&T and not Apple.

  • by dave562 (969951) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:55PM (#20389961) Journal
    When I was a 17 year old kid I had an unlocked Oki 900 that I used on AT&T's network. I'm pretty sure they weren't too happy that the phone could switch between five different sets of ESN/MIN pairs.

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