AT&T vs. iPhone unlockers
Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on August 26, 2007
It appears that A&T is making threatening noises in direction of folks who have been developing software that will let an iPhone be used without AT&T activation. AT&T ought to chill out instead.
Since the company says it is not subsidizing the price of the iPhone, it’s not like would-be unlockers are going to take the subsidy and run, which is a wireless operator’s main reason for wanting to block unlocking. A U.S. owner of an unlocked iPhone only has two choices, neither of them terribly appealing. One is to use only Wi-Fi wireless, but I’m not sure I get the point of an iPhone that isn’t a phone. The other is the use it on the T-Mobile network, which doesn’t confer any particular advantage, unless you happen to be in one of the few area’s where T-Mo’s service is better than AT&T’s.
The real demand for unlocked phones is coming from the 90% of the world where you cannot use an AT&T iPhone without paying extravagant roaming charges. And what skin is it off AT&T’s back if someone wants to use an iPhone on the Vodafone or Orange network?
Meanwhile, the folks who are bit by bit unraveling the mysteries of the iPhone that Apple and AT&T have tried so hard to keep secret are doing everyone a favor. The iPhone is a revolutionary device, but the desire of Apple and AT&T to keep it within a garden with very high walls is a huge step backward—and one that increasingly looks doomed to failure.