French laws force Apple to offer unlocked iPhone

Summary:The French government has achieved what an army of hackers have so far failed to do: Unlock the iPhone in such a way that Apple will relock or "brick" the phone. Apple has agreed to make an unlocked version of the phone for the French market in order to comply with a law that forbids the bundling of a phone with a carrier, the International Herald Tribune reports.

The French government has achieved what an army of hackers have so far failed to do: Unlock the iPhone in such a way that Apple will relock or "brick" the phone. Apple has agreed to make an unlocked version of the phone for the French market in order to comply with a law that forbids the bundling of a phone with a carrier, the International Herald Tribune reports.

Under the plan, Apple will sell a locked version which can only be used with French Telecom's Orange wireless unit for 399 euros ($560) and an unlocked version for use with any carrier for a higher amount.

Although FT's CEO, Didier Lombard, announced Sept. 20 that Orange had won the exclusive deal, Apple didn't release the news until Tuesday. Orange spokeswoman Béatrice Mandrine said the delay was related to negotiations on the "commercial agreement.

Many analysts believe the delay had to do with the commissions Apple has been demanding from carriers -- as much as 30 percent.

"For operators, having an handset maker suddenly demand a slice of their revenues is like being asked to change your religion," said Gerry Collins, the director of strategic marketing at Nortel Networks, a Canadian company that makes wireless phone networks. "This is really a significant change for the industry."

When push comes to shove then, Apple showed it would comply with local laws even if they go against global strategy. "Although French lawmakers passed a law targeting Apple's iPod-iTunes strategy, the law has so far not hindered Apple's operations in France," the Herald-Tribune wrote.

Philippe Achilleas, a professor of telecommunications law at the University of Paris, said it was unlikely that Apple would succeed in circumnavigating the prohibition. He added that mobile operators were also not likely to seek a change in the law, as they are trying to rebuild their image after a December 2005 decision to fine the three largest mobile operators for conspiring to fix prices.

Topics: Apple, Government, Government : US, iPhone, Mobility, Networking, Telcos, Wi-Fi

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