Friday, August 24, 2007

iPhone coming to a country near you?

Finally it appears that Apple and AT&T's unwise bid at a monopoly over iPhone use has been undermined. A 17-year old new Jersey kid, collaborating with 4 online strangers, figured out how to unlock his iPhone and is now using it on T-Mobile:
George Hotz, 17, confirmed Friday that he had unlocked an iPhone and was using it on T-Mobile’s network, the only major U.S. carrier apart from AT&T that is compatible with the iPhone’s cellular technology. While the possibility of switching from AT&T to T-Mobile may not be a major development for U.S. consumers, it opens up the iPhone for use on the networks of overseas carriers.

In a classic collaborative open-source screw-the-corporation mindset, Hotz made a video of how to crack your phone and posted it on his blog.

Since the details are public, it seems likely that a small industry may spring
up to buy U.S. iPhones, unlock them and send them overseas.
“That’s exactly, like, what I don’t want,” Hotz said. “I don’t want people making money off this.”He said he wished he could make the instructions simpler, so users
could modify the phones themselves.“But that’s the simplest I could make them,” Hotz said.

Amusing, always amusing, to see an individual (minor no less!) stick their finger in the eye of big corporations. Especially because I think the Apple-AT&T agreement was fundamentally a bad move for Apple (it is the exact opposite of Web2.0 and the entire collaborative ethos that Apple is trying to foster).

Couple of questions....what exactly is the legal agreement covering iPhone use with AT&T? If the terms of use that comes with the iPhone specifically prohibits you from using the device with any provider other than AT&T, this will have no impact on US dynamics, only in international markets.

However, what could be interesting is that AT&T may be forced to compete (the horror!). Considering that the vast majority of complaints since iPhone launch have been about AT&T (see this story about a $4k bill), this could be good for everyone (except AT&T).

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