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The iPhone unlocking software in action  (Source: Engadget)
iPhoneSimfree frees the iPhone to accept SIM cards from other walks of life

In less than two following the release of the iPhone, hackers were finally able to crack open the carrier lock on the Apple device to free it from its AT&T shackles. iPhoneSimfree.com made claims during late August that its software would unlock the device to run on any compatible GSM carrier. Those claims were verified as Engadget ran its iPhone unit on the T-Mobile network.

After several delays, the iPhoneSimfree software is now available for purchase. Currently, four online retailers in the world hold licenses for the unlocking software: Wireless Imports in the US, iPhoneWorldwideUnlock in Australia, 1digitalphone in Germany, and iPhone4arab in Saudi Arabia. Current prices for a single unlocking process range from $50 to $100.

Although an unlocked iPhone can run on any able GSM network, certain special features associated with the device may only be available on AT&T’s service. For example, visual voicemail will not appear on unlocked iPhones running on T-Mobile, as the feature is an AT&T network-specific feature.

For further details on the software iPhone unlocking solution, Engadget has posted an HD video detailing the entire unlocking process from start to finish.

The iPhoneSimfree method of unlocking is completely software-based. For those not afraid of a little wetwork, George Hotz, a 17 year old from Glen Rock, New Jersey, has discovered and documented a way to unlock the iPhone using a mix of internal soldering and software. For Hotz’s inventiveness and bravery, he scored three new 8GB iPhones and a Nissan 350Z.



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RE: I'm no lawyer...
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 9/10/2007 5:31:21 PM , Rating: 2
True, they can't hit them with the DMCA, but I would be surprised if AT&T and Apple couldn't come up with something though.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By gramboh on 9/10/2007 5:40:53 PM , Rating: 2
My roommate has an iPhone (here in Canada) and is excited about this. He made the point that this might not be a bad thing for Apple as it could increase sales of iPhones for enthusiasts willing to do the unlock.

My concern would be what about iPhone OS/firmware updates? I'd imagine the exploit that allows the unlock might be closed and your phone reverted to a factory state but such updates.

Either way it's pretty cool, and those companies are going to make a lot of money the next few weeks.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By TomZ on 9/10/2007 5:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
That's right, Apple wins with the unlock - they can have their cake and eat it too. They get paid by AT&T for exclusive access, then design in primitive security figuring it will quickly get broken, and then voila, the iPhone can be used on other networks without Apple technically violating their agreements.

In my view, AT&T should go after Apple, since Apple is, through lax security, violating the spirit of the exclusivity agreement. Whether that idea can survive AT&T PR calculations in another question.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By spluurfg on 9/10/2007 6:39:19 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong... Apple loses since they are very likely getting a cut from the new contracts. This will also be the case in Europe, where Apple will be taking something like 10% from the monthly bill, and mobile networks will not be permitted to subsidize the phone.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By TomZ on 9/10/2007 7:21:43 PM , Rating: 2
No, you're assuming that all these people would have signed up with AT&T if the phone was more securely locked to their network. Probably most of the people doing this don't like AT&T's network and/or have a strong preference for a diffrent carrier.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By spluurfg on 9/18/2007 7:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
No, I'm assuming that -some- of these people would have signed up with AT&T and thus Apple lost some revenue that they otherwise would have gotten.

This is akin to the statement that people who pirate music don't cost the record industry anything because they wouldn't have paid for it anyway. This is too strong a statement, as some of them probably would have paid for some of the music.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By daniyarm on 9/11/2007 12:48:59 AM , Rating: 2
Apple is totally f***ed in Europe. If they use their US business pracitices there, they will get fines up their a**. There is no way iPhone will fly in Europe with the same restriction as US, European commision will eat them alive.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By theapparition on 9/11/2007 9:42:14 AM , Rating: 2
From what I've read, Apple makes NO money from the contract, that's all AT&T's. Apple makes all their money from the sale of the device. So unlocking the device to increase sales is only in Apple's best interest. They don't give a damn if you ever activate your phone, as long as you buy it.

TomZ is right, AT&T should look long and hard at their contract with Apple.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By spluurfg on 9/18/2007 7:04:36 PM , Rating: 2
In that case the practices in the US differ from those in Europe, where Apple will be taking a cut.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By kamel5547 on 9/10/2007 6:41:36 PM , Rating: 2
Apple loses out on shared monthly revenues... likely a larger profit now that the price cuts have come.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By melgross on 9/10/2007 5:56:02 PM , Rating: 2
Jobs said, a while ago, that they wouldn't try to stop it. ATT is another matter though. They are the ones who sent the lawyers.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By rsmech on 9/10/2007 8:56:16 PM , Rating: 2
Then why did Apple demand a contract with a service provider if they didn't care to uphold such contract? Verizon was smarter than I thought. If Mr. Jobs feels he wouldn't stop it I think AT&T should feel free not to pay off of service contracts since Apple has the power to limit it.

Basically it comes down to the fact that if it's legal to unlock your phone then there is & never was such a thing as an exclusive carrier. As such the contract seems frivolous. Besides Apple probably doesn't care about the contract, it's the media hype that matters. Sell an image not the product. Let the press see how important you are to be exclusive. They couldn't have paid for a better ad campaign then the free one the press has given. That matters more than a contract.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By Hare on 9/10/2007 11:34:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then why did Apple demand a contract with a service provider if they didn't care to uphold such contract?
Because they get a cut of the bill and most people don't unlock their phones. Unlocking is a niche market and this way Apple could sell a) the AT&T exclusive package and b) unlocked device to enthusiasts still being "AT&T exclusive".

Some might argue that this way Apple can address two markets. Those who are willing to take AT&T with the iPhone (majority of AT&T customers) and those who refuse the operator deal.

I personally don't think Apple cares too much about the unlocking.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By rsmech on 9/11/2007 7:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Because they get a cut of the bill

You are stating the obvious. If they don't care about unlocking it should also hold true for ring tones. So why are they making any attempt whatsoever about blocking custom ring tones. Where is there consistency in Apple policy?


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By Griswold on 9/11/2007 4:37:50 AM , Rating: 2
AT&T will give Jobs a swift kick to the nuts if he doesnt do (technically) anything to prevent this. They have a contract after all and its meaningless if this unlock is good for apple or not - its not good for AT&T.


RE: I'm no lawyer...
By DEVGRU on 9/11/2007 12:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
Then why should Apple care? I think as far as Apple is concerned, its a win/win for them. Sure they might get a cut of the AT&T contract side, so they might not make AS much if a new iPhone is sold without an AT&T contract - but they're still selling the iPhone; which means revenue (for Apple) via accessories and iTunes, and more market penetration for the iPhone overall.


"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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