Monday, July 16, 2007

Unlocking the apple iphone- who will suceed?

The iPhone AT&T tie up has upset quite a few people. For one, domestic users want it unlocked so that they can use it with other network carriers in the united states as they don't want to pay hefty fees for cancelling their existing contracts (It is estimated that users on average spend about 167$ to cancel their existing contracts to switch over to iPhone) Secondly, Other network operators are crying foul because they feel that the 5-year lock in period is unfair and they are initiating legal action to get the courts to rule on this issue. (Not surprising, considering that 50% of the iPhone buyers are switching over from other networks ). Adding to the heat are people from around the world who are irritated by the fact that they cannot get the iPhone (iPhone has only been released in US until now. Roll out plan around the globe is still very unclear.)

On one end, there is pressure on apple itself to make iPhone open to other networks. However, given the nature of deal with AT&T, apple is unlikely to do this. Besides, it makes make more economic sense for apple and AT&T to have it this way in order to extract maximum value from the customer.

Knowing that apple is not going to relent to any amount of pressure, Free press has initiated an online petition campaign addressed to the congress and FCC requesting to "free" the iPhone. My guess is that, this not going to go anywhere.

There is also a growing number of individual programmers and communities who are pooling in efforts to unlock the apple iPhone. Elizabeth Montalbano of IDG News Service, Singapore, reports on a UK based firm who is at the verge of unlocking the iPhone. If the company is successful in doing this, it would be interesting what the legal ramifications would be. As some readers may be aware, since November 27th 2006, the U.S. patent office has made it clear that cellphone unlocking is legal in US. However, restrictions remain in EU. Since the firm is a UK firm, it is unclear how the courts will rule, should a dispute arise.

Unlocking of the iPhone is also important from a totally totally viewpoint. For years, apple has been proclaiming superiority over windows and its many versions in security and robustness against virus attacks. If somebody doe succeed in successful in unlocking the iPhone, it would expose the vulnerability of the OSX.

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