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Court Order Against German T-Mobile iPhone Sales 195

Posted by kdawson
from the when-dinosaurs-battle dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a strange move, Vodafone applied for and was granted a restraining order against T-Mobile to prohibit the sale of iPhone in Germany. A regional court in Hamburg has issued a restraining order. According to CNNMoney.com: 'Specifically, Vodafone is questioning the iPhone's exclusive use in T-Mobile's network and the use of the device being limited to certain fees within T-Mobile's subscription offerings.' Vodaphone says they are not trying to halt iPhone sales completely; they seem to want a court to examine the questions of exclusivity and licensing."
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Court Order Against German T-Mobile iPhone Sales

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  • Sigh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by atari2600 (545988)
    From the article

    Specifically, Vodafone is questioning the iPhone's exclusive use in T-Mobile's network and the use of the device being limited to certain fees within T- Mobile's subscription offerings.
    That doesn't make sense (to me) - it's none of Vodaphone's business. The above would have made sense if they threw the words "consumer" and "choice". But, oh, that would be too much to ask. Who gives a heck about the consumer?

    Vodafone isn't generally opposed to T-Mobile's exclusivity contract with Ap
    • by r00t (33219) on Monday November 19, 2007 @11:58PM (#21416473) Journal
      "wants to have these new sales practices examined"

      Right. The evils of cell phone service in the USA are coming to Germany. Vodaphone just wants the court to verify that this is legit, so that they too can be evil.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by arivanov (12034)
        They are already evil enough.

        For example, they charge you for every kilobit starting from the first on the unlimited flat rate 3G/3GB Cellular broadband contract. So much for "flat rate unlimited". They void your phone insurance for every single fake reason you can think of.

        So what they like to know if they can be even more evil and directly tell the customer to bend over (without the "or else") the way Apple does it. They would love to.

        Anyway, overall, this is good for the consumer. If the court confirms t
      • by dave420 (699308) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @09:11AM (#21419145)
        No, it means they want T-Mobile to operate under the same requirements as everyone else. Believe me - Europe doesn't want the cellfuck that is the US mobile industry. That's why these laws exist.
    • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:21AM (#21416627) Homepage

      The above would have made sense if they threw the words "consumer" and "choice". But, oh, that would be too much to ask. Who gives a heck about the consumer?


      You're criticizing the word choice of the (ridiculously brief) article, not the lawsuit or the laws the suit is based on.
    • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JackMeyhoff (1070484) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:46AM (#21417051)
      Actually it is their business. Its called being anti competitive which is very illegal in Europe.
      • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:40AM (#21417505) Homepage Journal

        Its called being anti competitive which is very illegal in Europe.
        What a backward place! Here in the U$A, we have our priorities straight and we know that we all work for the corporations. There's none of this sissy "consumer rights" stuff.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Europe also has a different philosophy on anti-competitive practices. In the US, the purpose of antitrust laws is, at least theoretically, for the sole benefit of the consumer. In contrast, Europe doesn't have the "we do it to protect the consumer" lip service. Instead, Europe recognizes that one of the purposes of laws ensuring fair competition in the marketplace is to protect business competitors.
          • by Firethorn (177587)
            While the apple iPhone is indeed the 'hot' new device, and does offer a currently unique set of features, should anybody be pretending that this will sink any cell phone provider that doesn't get the iPhone?

            As for the limited rate selection - why not? It's a PDA, data services are probably assumed.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Mattsson (105422)
              Regardless of if it would sink other network-operators not to be allowed to offer service to users of iPhones, the practice of not allowing certain operators to offer service to your hardware might be illegal.
              It might also be illegal to require a certain subscription for a certain phone.
              As I understand it, this is what is being tested.

              If it is illegal, Apple will either have to stop selling their phones in the EU, or let their customers choose operator and subscription freely, like the other mobile-phone ma
            • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

              by SillyNickName4me (760022) <dotslash@bartsplace.net> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:13PM (#21421409) Homepage

              While the apple iPhone is indeed the 'hot' new device, and does offer a currently unique set of features, should anybody be pretending that this will sink any cell phone provider that doesn't get the iPhone?


              Not as such no.

              What is does is prevent one of the things that have caused the mobile market in the EU to function as well as it does, the seperation of hardware and services.

              As for the limited rate selection - why not? It's a PDA, data services are probably assumed.


              Because it limits choice for consumers.
              Why shouldn't I be able to buy a phone seperately from my subscription?
              Why shouldn't I be able to get a different subscription and keep using my phone?

              Why should I? because it means more choice for me as a consumer, and it means providers have to stay competitive in their services instead of being able to 'buy' into fashionable items. It makes it easier for new providers to enter the market because they can directly compete on quality of service instead of exclusive fashion items.

              Oh, but why not let the market figure it out?

              The market could quite figure it out if most consumers were well informed. Its often kinda ignored, but informed customers are an essential part of a functioning free market, and if you don't have those, you'll have to compensate for that or you end up with effective monopolies.

              Its one reason why if 2 products can be seperated easily (in this case a phone using the GSM standard, and the GSM network service) then in general, you can sell them as a bundle as long as you also allow people to buy the products seperately. Some parts of the EU have stronger laws in this then others, but the basic idea stays the same. This is the same kind of issue that Microsoft ran into with regards to tying things into Windows that are technically seperate products. Sure, they can do that as long as they also allow you to buy the unbundeled products.

    • I think that is what Vodafone wants, namely that the iPhone be treated like a pre-paid phone, where a nominal fee removes the SIM lock. In other words, they don't care if people buy the phone from T-Mobile or even if they are locked into a T-Mobile contract, as long as they can slip a Vodafone SIM into the phone.

      If Vodafone wins and gets a solution similar to France, then I could see them advertising themselves as the better provider, or sending a mail on their current customers that they can now take their
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525)
      Sue Apple for calling the shots here

      No. Doesn't make any sense.

      If Apple wanted to just sell the phone, they could sell it without a contract through their usual retail channels. (A number of the iPhone's features depend on the network supporting them, so it wouldn't have been such an easy sell, but that's Apple's problem). But instead they approached a number of telcos across the world and asked them to sell the phone with a contract attached to it. Every telco had the option of reading the contract an
    • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jesus_666 (702802) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @05:19AM (#21417917)
      it's bloody fucking ironic how Apple decided only ATT would be its bitch in the US and went for Tmobile on the other side of the ocean.

      Who else? AT&T doesn't exist over here and T-Mobile owns the D1 network, which has the most subscribers. Competitors like Vodafone, O2 or E-Plus are big, but not quite as big as T-Mobile, which had a huge advantage as it evolved out of the earlier federal post's telephone service.

      T-Mobile really was the obvious choice.
      • I think the OP was complaining that in the U.S.A Apple partnered with AT&T instead of T-Mobile.
      • by houghi (78078)
        And in the UK it is O2 that they have a deal with.

        Apple just looks at each country what will be the best deal they can get. Which one will give them the biggest patrt of their profit.

        Luckily/unfortunatly selling locked phones in Belgium is against the law, so no Iphones here. OTOH, we have the best beers in the world, so who realy cares.
  • by djh101010 (656795) * on Monday November 19, 2007 @11:32PM (#21416243) Homepage Journal
    I can't help but think that there would be about the same number of people bitching about this, regardless of if the contracted partner with Apple was AT&T, Cingular, T-mobile, Sprint, EIEIO, ROFL, or any other provider. For any product, it comes with (list) of (limitations), take it or leave it. All I can say, is that my $AT&T contract is $20 less per month than my Verizon contract for my Palm 600, so the iPhone pays for itself. If people want to be pissed off by this, (shrug) OK, go ahead, but, workflow and usability matter for something for me. Saving 20 bucks a month matters too. Between both, the iPhone makes sense for me regardless of who I have to contract with. People who complain about this, I'm guessing, just like to bitch about things without any particular reason for same other than having something to complain about. Eventually you grow out of that whole "indignation based on look dammit" thing and get on with life. Get on with life. Or not. Your choice. But fact remains, the device is well thought out, the workflow works, and only people who choose to not like it will not like it. It is waht it is, and what is is, is pretty damn well thought out. Get over it.
    • by Dunbal (464142) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:09AM (#21416555)
      Apple was AT&T, Cingular, T-mobile, Sprint, EIEIO, ROFL, or any other provider.

            Damn, I tried signing up with EIEIO for a couple months. My calls would constantly be interrupted by weird animal noises, especially ducks. And I could only get a signal in two places - on my farm and, strangely, at any McDonald's restaurant. Obviously I told them they could shove it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by masdog (794316)
        I had them for a while too. Mine kept singing old Nellie songs and sportin' band-aids on one side of the case. And the worst part was that it only worked in East St. Louis.
    • by BlueParrot (965239) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:11AM (#21416565)
      I don't know what laws are like in your jurisdiction, but many European countries, and indeed the EU itself has very strict laws with regards to what restrictions you may and may not place on consumers. If a company follows these rules and a competitor is allowed to violate them without the authorities taking action, then I could very much understand that they feel pissed. It is not as much a matter about weather these laws are sensible or not, as it is a matter of them being equal for everyone. Basically, if the law requires Vodaphone to comply with A, B and C then they have all right to be pissed if their competitors can ignore A, B or C without consequences. That the consumers may or may not benefit from Vodaphone's legal action is just a side effect, and it can be debated if it is good or bad.
      • Basically, if the law requires Vodaphone to comply with A, B and C then they have all right to be pissed if their competitors can ignore A, B or C without consequences.

        Yeah, but let's not forget that Vodafone wanted the IPhone too (In German) [spiegel.de]. They didn't get it because they didn't want to give Apple a share of the profits. Do you think they would have sued themselves if they had gotten an exclusive contract though? I'd say this is more of a case of "if we can't have the exclusive deal, then nobody shall".

    • The US case for iPhone is different. I hear that the German plan is more expensive than most competing plans.
    • by PineGreen (446635) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:32AM (#21416975) Homepage
      ...so the iPhone pays for itself.

      Dude, get 10 of them and leave job!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slaingod (1076625)
      The issue is not about the device. The issue is about the restictive service. I would go out and buy an iPhone tomorrow if Verizon carried it, as Verizon is the ONLY carrier in NYC that I get reception from in my apartment. All coverage/service is not created equal, and in my case there is literally only one provider I can use. Don't get me wrong, Verizon is a pos as well as far as their phone selection. I'm using an XV6700 that's 2 years old, and that is still the most recent model they carry in a full
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by petermgreen (876956)
        have you ever tried just dropping your sim into an unlocked phone?
        • have you ever tried just dropping your sim into an unlocked phone?

          In the USA, only AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM and Sim cards. (At least of the 4 large carriers.) So for Verizon Wireless users, there is no sim card to just drop in. Also Verizon and Sprint use different encoding methods and radio frequencies from the GSM based carriers - another barrier to phone choice.

          However, there are companies that sell phones compatible with the various networks. You do not have to get a phone through Verizon. The third party phones tend to be a little more expensive as they aren

          • by tkrotchko (124118) *
            Verizon won't activate a phone unless they provide it. Of course, finding a CDMA phone outside of Verizon is a challenge, but even if you get one from Sprint or Alltel I think you'll find Verizon will not activate it.

            Verizon has a good network, but they are not consumer friendly when it comes to equipment choice.
            • Actually, if you use the online account management stuff, you can do your own phone activation. Presuming you have a phone that is compatible with Verizon's network.

              There are authorized Verizon Wireless shops that provide phones that work that Verizon never sold.

              So there is more than one way around it being a Verizon sold phone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chuqmystr (126045)
      I've got a few things I'd like to bitch about which I like to think are credible. Now mind you, I'm quite the Apple Whore and I HATE Verizon Wireless unto whom I'm tethered but will begrudgingly extol some benefits of.

      iPhone is neat but for the TRUE mobile warrior/wackadoo like me it's cute and flashy but fairly useless. I've clocked far too many hours on trains, buses and other inconvenient places for connectivity tethered to some form of cellular data. Tmobile, VZW, Cingular-ATT-HUGE-monopilistic-turd.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MrMickS (568778)
        You miss the point. Apple knows that they only have to cater to a particular segment of the market with the initial phone offering. It doesn't have to hit all of the spots for all users, just enough of them. Its had wow reviews everywhere in the mainstream press and does what it does very well. It does enough for most people in most of the target markets. That's enough for a version 1.0 device.

        WRT to releasing an SDK. Apple didn't need the SDK to be available from the off. They can sell all of the phones

    • by Firethorn (177587)
      Except that AT&T doesn't even want to talk to me where I live, there's huge gobs of the country where the IPhone won't even work. Not huge gobs of the population, but still, I'm going to get a cell phone that works where I live. I haven't seen a live iPhone yet because of this.

      Irks me a bit, sure, but I just figure it's Apple's loss.
  • So if I get this straight, in Germany if Company A offers me $X dollars for my product, and Company B offers me $X+5, and I decide to do business only with Company B because I don't like Company A's deal, Company A can then sue me for anti-competitive practices? Sounds like I don't want to do business there...

    Reid
    • Or maybe other countries are in favor of giving consumer choices? Or is that anti-capitalist?
      • by Fred_A (10934)

        Or maybe other countries are in favor of giving consumer choices? Or is that anti-capitalist?
        If that was the purpose it would have been a consumer org starting the court action, not a rival telco.
        • If that was the purpose it would have been a consumer org starting the court action, not a rival telco.

          It is, in fact, a goal of good business laws to set things up such that competing businesses have an interest to enforce consumer rights against each other.

          In the US, trademark law works that way. In Europe, many other laws work that way, too.

          Leaving things up to consumer orgs would not be very effective.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)
      But without *some* anti-trust enforcement, the consumers who would lose their freedom. Eventually there would just be one big company. Power leads to profits leads to more power.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe the very fact that EU states would be willing to challenge such exclusivity agreements explains why their legal system in general seems better at protecting consumers rather than raping them, as seems to be the norm in the US. Since when has the US ever been as effective [people.com.cn] as the EU in protecting consumers?
    • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:18AM (#21416603) Homepage

      Sounds like I don't want to do business there


      Let me get this straight, if I want to sell a product, I have to follow the law? You're right, that's horrible, no wonder Germany is such a third-world country known for hating modern technology.

      Next thing you know, some litigious bastard will suggest that AT&T should have to let us choose which phones to use on our landlines! You knew the deal when you signed up for service, it's only whiners who want to stop competition who suggest that renting your princess phone is too expensive.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
        Let me get this straight, if I want to sell a product, I have to follow the law? You're right, that's horrible, no wonder Germany is such a third-world country known for hating modern technology.

        Yeah, I hear IBM followed German law pretty much to the letter since running operations there. I don't remember it slowing them down any.

        (I know, I know, Godwin ... but when you reduce someone's complaint about the kafkaesqueness of law to a criticism of all law, in a discussion about Germany, I think I'm justified
      • by giorgiofr (887762)

        You knew the deal when you signed up for service, it's only whiners who want to stop competition who suggest that renting your princess phone is too expensive.

        Exactly. So don't rent one. Problem solved. It's not like you have some natural right to possess an iPhone. Apple (and whoever else is involved in this) does not owe you anything. Just like you don't owe them anything. Now if you want to enter a business transaction with them, by all means contact them, negotiate, buy passively, whatever. Why on Earth you should scream bloody murder and invoke some law is beyond me.

        • You knew the deal when you signed up for service, it's only whiners who want to stop competition who suggest that renting your princess phone is too expensive.

          Exactly. So don't rent one. Problem solved. It's not like you have some natural right to possess an iPhone. Apple (and whoever else is involved in this) does not owe you anything.

          What was that sound, up above? Oh my, that was the point missing your head!
          http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,267757,00.html [time.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Slashidiot (1179447)
        Nope, it's not exactly like that. The thing is that you should be able to buy the product from company B and then use it with the network of company A.

        This concept is very clear right now in most of the things in EU policy. It's the same for most products, there should be a separation between manufacturer of a product and the service provider. Or at least have the option to choose service provider, no matter who you purchased the hardware from.

        Another example, maybe a bit far fetched, but one I know well. I
    • by empaler (130732)

      So if I get this straight, in Germany if Company A offers me $X dollars for my product, and Company B offers me $X+5, and I decide to do business only with Company B because I don't like Company A's deal, Company A can then sue me for anti-competitive practices? Sounds like I don't want to do business there...

      No, they're saying that they want to know whether Apple can say they don't want to trade with all comers who want to pay $X+5. What a smart competitor would usually do is buy the phones at $X+5 (more precisely, X+5) and then sell it with another price plan than T-Mobile. Maybe even (shock!) sell it without a price plan, like in France. They want to know whether it is legal to discriminate in that manner.

    • First off, in normal business you SELL your product for a price, it ain't a bloody auction. The entire idea is that the process has to be fair. If you want to sell something in europe you have to play by the rules. If Apple can't play by the rules, they are welcome to take their stuff home and shove it up the US consumers ass who are used to assuming the position.

      You might be suprised to know this, but in europe all these exclusive deals and crippled phones are NOT legal and don't happen. When you got to b

      • by mpe (36238)
        You might be suprised to know this, but in europe all these exclusive deals and crippled phones are NOT legal and don't happen. When you got to buy a phone you can easily do that from a third party shop that simply displays the phones with a list of providers next to it.

        The only way you generally can buy a locked phone, in the EU, is through the provider concerned. You can even buy such phones at third party shops, but they typically come clearly labled with the service provider's logo.
        The service provide
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Weedlekin (836313)
        "You might be suprised to know this, but in europe all these exclusive deals and crippled phones are NOT legal and don't happen."

        As a European, I'm surprised by your assertion that it's illegal, because several operators in a variety of European countries offer crippled phones under exclusive deals, so it does in fact happen. This is because there is no EC directive that makes such tying illegal unless there is a monopoly involved (an EC-wide monopoly, not a monopoly in one or two countries).

        Clue stick: the
    • by dave420 (699308)
      Here's a better explanation: Company A is selling products under strict laws, and Company B is also selling similar products under the same laws. Company B stops honouring those laws while selling some products, while Company A doesn't. Company A gets Company B to stop selling those products which break the law. Yup - sounds horrible :)
  • by usul294 (1163169) on Monday November 19, 2007 @11:43PM (#21416365)
    My question here is what is wrong with the exclusivity of the iPhone? I don't know German/EU monopoly laws, but I don't think TMobile has enough market share to qualify as a monopoly anywhere. If not, I don't see what is really wrong here, I mean does Apple computer hardware in Germany have to be able to compatible with Windows? It looks like Vodafone wants a piece of the iPhone pie, and are using every legal action to limit the impact TMobile gets from it.
    • Re:Whats Wrong? (Score:5, Informative)

      by postbigbang (761081) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:02AM (#21416511)
      T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom were the PTT in Germany for years. Only recently has the EU cracked down on the mind-boggling roaming and int'l pricing-- hitting T-Mobile especially hard. No one's accusing anyone of anything right now, but getting a hearing when it looks like there might be some problems is perhaps healthier than going into post-agreement activation litigation.

      T-Mobile has stupefying marketshare in Germany. Not total, but stupefying. And it's not just in mobiles (called a 'handy' in Germany) but in WiFi, hotel systems, hotspots, xDSL, and pay-by-packet schemes.

      • by jamar0303 (896820)
        I wish they were this way in America. There needs to be another DSL player in the US market...
        • There needs to be another DSL player in the US market...

          There are plenty of DSL players in the US, it's just that the US market is set up such that you often only get one because the incumbent player isn't required to lease out the lines, despite being allowed to use public land to run those lines, and being given the monopoly for running those lines.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by matt4077 (581118)
        They do have a large marketshare in landline (about 80% I'd guess), but in mobile, they're just one of many competing players. Vodaphone, O2 and others have equal access to the market T-mobile has maybe a 40% market share at most. The telco market is actually working quite well. Rates for everything - international calling, local calls, internet access, mobile have dropped 90% or more since the 90ies.

        It's quite different in the energy market (electricity and natural gas) where we just have a bunch of mini-E
        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          True. The German moble telco market is fiercely competitive, with companies constantly one-upping each other. The current trend is going towards making rates as simple as possible while retaining competitive pricing. An example would be E-Plus' "Zehnsation" ("Tensation") where you pay 10 cents per minute for calls in every network at any time and have a minimum charge of ten Euros. Another would be the E-Plus spinoff brand Simyo, which is offering a prepaid/contract hybrid without minimum charges or monthly
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by postbigbang (761081)
          T-Mobile still has a commanding share of the market in DE. They have a huge share in tip-and-ring and ISDN. They dominate-- barely-- handies. So is it ok for Vodophone to pre-emptively take them to task for what's seen as a consumer problem in the US? I think so.
    • You might say the same for KPN or O2, never heard of them? They are the former goverment monopolies in the netherlands and great britain respectivly. (KPN uses both its normal name and Hi as a mobilephone brand, O2 was the mobile phone brand of BT till it split off) Now I give you one guess as to the name of the german mobile phone company that was the former goverment monopoly.

      Feeling a bit stupid now? You should. Next time you start claiming you know anything about a company, try to find out where it cam

    • by dave420 (699308)
      What's wrong? It's illegal, in Germany, to tie a handset to a carrier and provide no way of switching carriers it will work with. It's not about anti-monopoly, but pro-consumer. You paid for the phone, you should be able to use it on any network you want to, with any SIM card you want, on any tariff you want.
  • good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dwater (72834) on Monday November 19, 2007 @11:51PM (#21416413)
    It's about time someone challenged this tie-in with phones and carriers.

    I should be able to buy a cell phone and use it with any carrier I choose, technical limitations notwithstanding.
    • Re:good! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thegrassyknowl (762218) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:06AM (#21416533)

      I should be able to buy a cell phone and use it with any carrier I choose, technical limitations notwithstanding.

      That was the original point of the GSM standard. You were supposed to be able to buy a single phone and take it anywhere in the world that supported GSM. Sure, you may or may not have to pop in another SIM card if your provider didn't have roaming in the place where you were at. The whole locking the phones thing breaks that compatibility, as do the different band allocations around the place now.

      If you want to unlock your (common) mobile phone Google can help. The Nokias can be unlocked by entering some code on the keypad that's derived from the IEMI number in the phone. There are several sites that will take an IEMI and give you the code. The same thing exists for all other major brands.

      As for iPhone being locked to T-mobile. It sucks because I want one (not that I can get one here) but I don't want to be forced to use a particular carrier (of Apple's choice) just to use what is essentially a standard mobile phone with a few nice extra features.

      • Re:good! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wor f . n et> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:56AM (#21416805)

        As for iPhone being locked to T-mobile. It sucks because I want one (not that I can get one here) but I don't want to be forced to use a particular carrier (of Apple's choice) just to use what is essentially a standard mobile phone with a few nice extra features.


        Well, you can either not buy an iPhone, or unlock it yourself. Now, granted iPhone software 1.1.2 hasn't been unlocked yet, but it eventually will. Remember Apple quoting that around a quarter-million iPhones are unlocked?

        In fact, even though the iPhone is technically tied to a contract, you buy it without signing any contract. In effect, it's a contract-bound phone where you don't sign any contract to purchase it.

        Example - my iPhone works in Canada. I was in the US. I walked into an AT&T store. I said "I want an iPhone". I hand over my (Canadian) credit card, and they bill $399 to it (no sales tax in OR). No muss, no fuss, they wanted my cellphone number, and asked if I was with AT&T, to which I said no. Not even an address.

        So I handed over $399, and a phone number. And I have my iPhone. No promise to sign up on an AT&T contract. No SSN. Nothing.

        Come home, follow the instructions to activate and unlock the phone, and boom, it works with my Canadian SIM card. No contract, either. No visual voicemail, but no biggie. I don't even have voicemail on my account.

        It's interesting, buying a locked, contract bound phone, without actually agreeing to do that. I saw nothing on any screen that said I had to keep my phone activated with AT&T for 2 years, nor clicked any such agreements.
        • Re:good! (Score:4, Informative)

          by Fnkmaster (89084) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:47AM (#21417055)
          Acually 1.1.2 was unlocked within two or three days of making a public showing on the upgrade servers. It's only phones with the new baseband bootloader, i.e. those that come shipped with 1.1.2 out of the box, that can't yet be unlocked.
        • Is it true? How come my friend's never worked? He moved to vancouver and before he left US he bought an iPhone like you said from Apple Store in CT (damn, the taxes are killing there) and just tried installing a Telus SIM card and it refused to work....
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by comm2k (961394)
          Thats not how it works in Germany - many people would be happy if it was that way. In Germany you can only buy it in T-Mobile shops. You can only buy the phone if you sign up for a 2 year contract in that shop - only after signing the agreement do you get the iPhone. You can't buy it from an Apple Store like in the USA.
          • by mpe (36238)
            In Germany you can only buy it in T-Mobile shops.

            This is about the only way what T-Mobile and Apple are doing would be remotely legal in Germany (or anywhere else in the EU).

            You can only buy the phone if you sign up for a 2 year contract in that shop - only after signing the agreement do you get the iPhone.

            This is the point at which things become legally questionable. It would be as if a supermarket refused to sell you a glass unless you signed a contract to buy at least 4 litres of milk, per week fro
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by tokul (682258)

          In fact, even though the iPhone is technically tied to a contract, you buy it without signing any contract. In effect, it's a contract-bound phone where you don't sign any contract to purchase it.

          How good is a phone if you can't make a phone call.

          If you have to apply some third party hack in order to unlock the phone, you lose all warranties and can end up with 400 USD brick, if you accidentally upgrade to unsupported firmware.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AVee (557523)

          Well, you can either not buy an iPhone, or unlock it yourself.

          Or, at least for people living in actual an democracy and/or a country that gives a shit about an actually free market, you could have a law which makes these kinds of coupled selling illegal. That's not to be whining about stuff like that, it is a necessity to maintain a proper competing free market. When companies are allowed to make deals where you can have A but only if you also by B from him they create artificial monopolies and raise the barrier of entry for other players on the market. When this goe

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tom (822)

          In fact, even though the iPhone is technically tied to a contract, you buy it without signing any contract. In effect, it's a contract-bound phone where you don't sign any contract to purchase it.
          Wrong, in this context.

          In Germany, the iPhone is only sold by T-Mobile, and only in T-Mobile shops, and only in connection with the contract. You can't buy an iPhone at an Apple store, and you can't buy one without signing the contract.
      • by mpe (36238)
        That was the original point of the GSM standard. You were supposed to be able to buy a single phone and take it anywhere in the world that supported GSM. Sure, you may or may not have to pop in another SIM card if your provider didn't have roaming in the place where you were at. The whole locking the phones thing breaks that compatibility, as do the different band allocations around the place now.

        The latter is addressed by having phones with multiband capability.
        The more features a phone has the more like
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kamapuaa (555446)
      I should be able to buy a cell phone and use it with any carrier I choose, technical limitations notwithstanding.

      You're perfectly free to buy that kind of phone, and the iPhone isn't one of them. If you don't like it, don't buy an iPhone.

      I should be able to buy a cell phone for $50. And actually, I can - just the iPhone isn't one of them.

      It doesn't seem right that in a market with a lot of choices for cell phones, the government should dictate a niche player's business model.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        Read:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tying_(commerce) [wikipedia.org]

        The practice of bundling two products or services together like this and forcing the consumer into 'take none or both' decisions has a dubious history at best, and while its often legal, its often not. Most people agree the laws preventing tying are justifiable, and for the good of the market, even if it is impossible to define precisely exactly where the line should be drawn between legal bundling, and illegal tying.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436)
        "business model" is too much of a broad term to describe it. Tying,bundling or lockin is what it is, which is illegal in germany.

        If Steve Jobs sold plastic turds coated in lead paint i swear you people would still buy it for your kids to chew on, i swear.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Eivind (15695)
      Sure. And that tends to be the best deal anyway. In Norway, lots of phones are sold at a discount, with the catch being, they're locked-up so they only work with a single provider, and you have to contractually agree to use that provider for atleast a year.

      The thing is though, the plan they offer you is so much worse than other plans available, even other plans from the same provider, that the "free phone" is anything but. It's not a good deal to get a "free phone" pay $20/month and $0.10/minute rather than
    • by ajs318 (655362)
      Well, that's pretty much what European law says: if you buy a phone, you can choose your own carrier; and if you sell phones, they have to accept any SIM, not just your favourite carrier's. (European law also forbids region-locking of DVD players -- every DVD player sold on the Continent is multi-region -- and sooner or later will forbid lockout chips in games consoles, requiring them to accept third-party games and accessories. Recall that third-party games were what rescued the Atari 2600 from oblivion
      • by Weedlekin (836313)
        "Well, that's pretty much what European law says: if you buy a phone, you can choose your own carrier; and if you sell phones, they have to accept any SIM, not just your favourite carrier's."

        That's not what it says at all. European competition laws allow phones to be sold "locked down" to a particular carrier or service, but _an opinion_ by the Commission (opinions are guidelines that should, but don't have to be followed by member states) says that the service provider should supply a means of unlocking af
      • by mpe (36238)
        (European law also forbids region-locking of DVD players -- every DVD player sold on the Continent is multi-region

        This at least because some EU countries are in R2 and some are in R5.
  • ...is a old school brick cell phone.
  • American viewpoint (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Amigori (177092) <eefranklin718@noSPAm.yahoo.com> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:14AM (#21416587) Homepage
    Perhaps its just my viewpoint as an American, but this seems like Vodafone is complaining because they are not the exclusive carrier (and can't charge for every little thing) and the iPhone falls under a different style plan, like here in the States. Remember, Vodafone is Verizon Wireless's largest shareholder and if Vodafone is anything like their American counterpart, they'll use every dirty trick in the book, to screw both their customer and their competition. I bet that Apple has enough lawyers on staff/contract to ensure that this type of sales agreement is compliant with Germany law.

    The phone seems to be programmed (according to the article anyways...anyone have specific details?) to only use the T-Mobile network while in Germany. That should mean that while in Germany, it won't roam on Vodafone's, or anyone else's, network, thus allowing Vodafone to bill DT for the roaming agreement/charges, regardless of whether or not the customer has roaming included in their plan. Although I could be completely off, its really just a guess. I have used VZW phones in the past where it will have 0-10% of signal instead of switching to a competing (roaming) CDMA tower in sight. No, I can't hear you now.

    As for "the use of the device being limited to certain fees within T-Mobile's subscription offerings." Perhaps they've setup a plan similar to AT&T/Cingular here where a number of charges that are typically a "per X" fee are instead a "flat rate" fee. They don't expand on it and I don't understand German (just English, French, and Spanish) to read the T-Mobile website for futher contract details; just a rate comparison box that's similar enough to the AT&Ts plans to understand. Vodafone doesn't want to compete against a non-standard, consumer friendly plan. VZW here wants you to pay for everything you can do with your phone. I'm surprised you don't get commercials while dialing from or to VZW handsets...oh...right...crappy pop ringers...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TheJasper (1031512)
      I think the difference is that in general in the states the attitude is that companies can do what they want and consumers can choose not to buy. In Europe the attitude is more like companies have mucho power and when consumers don't have choice things should be regulated. Given that until recently many european countries still had state phone monopolies this means that there is mucho regulation (another favorite european pasttime).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by squiggleslash (241428)

      Verizon Wireless is more like its Verizon parent, not Vodafone parent. Vodafone, for all of its faults, has always been (at least in the UK) a fairly open mobile operator. They were one of the last to resist locking their contract GSM phones back when Orange and one2one started the trend there.

      I've always thought Vodafone shouldn't have any ties to Verizon Wireless, it never made any sense. They apparently only stay in because it makes a lot of money, but Verizon Wireless's management has always let Veri

    • You guys get SCREWED by your corporations. Even when they get found guilty of monopolistic behaviour not much happens.

      We in the EU don't like that so much. We don't worship money as much as the US does, nor do we believe in the invisible hand of the market as much as you guys do. The fatal flaw in the theory being that the participants are supposed to be well informed and able to make comparative choices, which we all know is the opposite of what marketing does.

      Well anyway. There's good and bad in both appr
    • by dave420 (699308)
      You've got it wrong. Vodafone don't want T-Mobile to be able to dodge the same laws Vodafone is supposed to operate under. T-Mobile are offering a cellphone only on specific tariffs, that is also bound to their network (as opposed to being able to use the iPhone on any tariff you want, or even on any sim card you want). The laws in the EU regarding cellphone operators and sales practices are vastly different to the US.
  • 1. the phone is not subsidised by the plan - you pay for the whole thing up front

    2. carrier lock in is the worst of the worst, you don't get to make excuses for it just because it's apple.

    3. many EU countries have laws against crapy lock in products like this, it's good for the consumer.

  • Court in Hamburg (Score:3, Informative)

    by magerquark.de (466363) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:13AM (#21417183) Homepage
    The court in Hamburg is well known for its strange decisions. A guy is even logging lots of trials from that single judge that is resonsible: http://www.buskeismus.de/ [buskeismus.de] (German only, sorry)
  • You can't have your iPhone yet. Send thanks to Vodaphone.

    Looks like a great PR move to me. I'm sure customers will flock to them for having saved them from getting the iPhones they wanted.
    • by fforw (116415)
      The iPhone was not that much of a sales wonder anyway.. no comparison to the USA.. most people here seem to be highly critical of paying 1600 EUR for two years without any kind of flatrate (that's $2300 now).
  • by SubliminalLove (646840) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:05AM (#21417579)
    The summary is incorrect -- I don't blame the submitter, because the CNN article is not very clear about what's going on either. If you happen to read German, here [tagesschau.de] is a reasonably good article on the issue. To summarize: In Germany, this sort of exclusive contract does not exist -- you can get certain deals that are bound to your keeping a phone with a particular carrier (eg, a 200 phone for 15 if you keep a particular plan for two years, if you terminate the contract before then you have to pay the rebate back), but there's no such thing here as a phone that won't work on a competitor's network. Vodafone is asking a judge in Hamburg to rule on the legality of the exclusive service contract, but they are not preventing the sale of the device itself.
    • Even after your contract expires in two years.

      You can unlock every phone after your contract expires here in Germany. I don't think there's a way Apple and T-Mobile can change this.

      It will be very interesting to see how much Orange will charge for an unlocked iPhone that it has to sell in accordance to frech laws.

      And I'm astonished that Apple doesn't do this in all countries. Why not simply sell an iPhone for 400 Euros with T-Mobile contract and 800 Euro without a contract (like everybody else). Apple shou
    • by oPless (63249)
      I find it quite ... disturbing

      If I understand Voda(.de) are suing to rule on the legality of locked phones?

      As a matter of course Voda (uk) and Tmob (uk) (3, orange and O2) all lock their phones here in the uk. Voda however unlock them for free after the contract you bought them under expires.

      I find the manner that voda (and the rest) completely screw up their phones with "branding", and give away 300GBP+ phones to NEW customers, rather than look after their current user base.

      Let's face it, when it costs mo

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