Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Cellphones Government The Courts News

Court Order Against German T-Mobile iPhone Sales 195

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 '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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Court Order Against German T-Mobile iPhone Sales

Comments Filter:
  • Sigh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by atari2600 ( 545988 ) on Monday November 19, 2007 @11:31PM (#21416239)
    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 Apple, but wants to have these new sales practices examined, the spokesman said. The restraining order doesn't aim at a total sales stop, he added. Yawn. Sue Apple for calling the shots here - not Tmobile and 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.
  • 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:good! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:21AM (#21416629) Homepage
    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.

  • Re:good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> 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.
  • by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) * on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:05AM (#21417149) Journal
    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 in saying that.)
  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:02AM (#21417365) Homepage
    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 that the customer has to bend over EU will tighten the regs on mobile operators in a jiffie. If the court confirms that the customer has rights, T-mob and Apple will have to bend over in a jiffie. Vodafone will promptly follow. They are simply not realising it because they are being blinded by their greed.
  • by TheJasper ( 1031512 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @06:37AM (#21418231)
    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).

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @07:05AM (#21418381) Homepage Journal

    If Apple had sold the phone directly, T-Mobile and AT&T users, to name but two GSM networks with unlimited data plans, would have both had accessed to unlimited data, photo (and anything else) emailing, etc, etc, without any negotiation on Apple's part. Ringtones are not free on the iPhone.

    The reality is that Apple has fucked up from a customer viewpoint. They don't care because people are buying the phone anyway, but the reality is that the only thing "they got" out of carrier exclusivity was visual voicemail, and the ability to hide about $100 of the cost of a $500 (initially ~$700) phone ($100 seems to be about the average kick-back.)

    That seems a pretty poor deal to me, especially considering the sacrifices they had to make. The thing can only be activated anew, you can't simply swap your SIM from your existing account into a new iPhone, which means it's only "easy" to switch to for people who aren't already on a GSM carrier. So much for "just works". People trying to roam internationally with it are being hit by outrageous roaming fees. Locations poorly served by the chosen carrier (and trust me, AT&T sucks around where I live; T-Mobile in this area is by far the best carrier, both in terms of operators running real mobile phone standards and amongst all the operators claiming to be mobile phone operators) are areas the iPhone cannot be reasonably sold in. And Apple themselves have signed up to a program of constant updates designed to break uncrippled iPhones in the most dramatic ways, which aside from the maintenance cost, is doing Apple's PR over-all no good whatsoever. If the iPod was the product that would make the Mac respectable, the iPhone seems to be the product that will lead people to steer clear of them for fear of a manufacturer that engages in sonying [].

    And for what? Is there any evidence at all that the iPhone wouldn't be selling so well if it had come out at $700, was selling today at $500, and didn't support visual voicemail? Especially given all the potential customers who for one reason or another prefer a non-AT&T GSM carrier and aren't buying the iPhone as a result?

    Apple will not care because they're making a profit in the short term, and because of the usual gaggle of moronic "analysts" that are willing to write articles on how Apple is somehow sticking it to the carriers by giving the carriers exactly what they want and not forcing the carriers to pay huge amounts of money in subsidies. If they understood the consequences of what they're doing, they'd realize they could have made a great deal more money, and avoided sullying their reputation, by losing the control freak attitude, and not being terrified of the carriers as they obviously were. They never even needed carrier approval, and there's not a GSM carrier in the US that wouldn't have given their approval anyway; that's the saddest part.

  • Re:good! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AVee ( 557523 ) <slashdot&avee,org> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @07:06AM (#21418389) Homepage

    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 goes unchallenged it will create a market where you have to roll out a whole mobile network before you can release a smartphone, simply because the others won't let you join there club. That may seem pretty 'normal' when the USA is your reference, but it is not what a free market should be.
  • Re:Whats Wrong? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:20AM (#21418821)
    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.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents