French laws force Apple to offer unlocked iPhone

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.

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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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6 comments
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  • Easy for Apple to Do

    All Apple has to do to continue making a profit is the following:

    1. Sell the unlocked iPhone for way more than the locked one - e.g. $999 rather
    than $399. This allows Apple to recoup some of the loss of subscription money.

    2. Allow no further upgrades of the software on unlocked phones - unless the
    user pays for them. The user still has to register with Apple to get an upgrade.
    The user still has to pay for each upgrade. For example, $10 for the 1.1.1
    upgrade. This helps pay for Apple's costs for developing the iPhone software.
    There is no free ride for the unlocked user. If the user wants new system
    software, with all its nice features, they will have to pay for it. That is only fair
    since Apple's share of the locked phone subscription pays for the upgrades.

    This would be fair for all and allow Apple to continue to make a profit from
    developing the iPhone's software. This is the most important job - as we
    Macintosh users now - e.g. in anticipation of Leopard.
    jameskatt
    • Yeah, that'll work

      If it's that much more, but you are dead-set against the carrier, you're just not going to buy it. Especially if you are European and have options which are FREE and have more features than the iPhone even dreamt of having when it was full of 3rd party apps.

      Just because it's an Apple product does not mean that close proximity to it removes all common sense from the poor soul trapped in the reality vacuum that it creates.

      They are going to have a hard time selling these phones, anyway, because of the European attitude about high priced, low feature gadgets. Hiking up the unlocked price that much won't help them at all.
      laura.b
      • I've heard a rumour of 999 Euros

        One of our French reseller partners has indicated that they've been told that the unlocked unit will sell for 999 Euros. Whoa! Talk about a hit. That's almost $1,800 for a flipping cell phone. You would really need to be a extreme gadget freak and Apple fanboy to be willing to accept those terms.

        Hmmm, where can I get [b]JUST[/b] a phone? No MP3, No Video, No Texting, just my phone book and a dial pad.
        Timpraetor
  • RE: French laws force Apple to offer unlocked iPhone

    I think that people should start boycotting Apple for a year or so, until they change their marketing strategies to be more fair and amicable across the board. I for one can wait (even though I like the phone) just as a matter of principle.
    leslieah@...
  • RE: French laws force Apple to offer unlocked iPhone

    They already have an unlocked iPhone. It's called the Touch.

    It doesn't do dialing, etc..... but isn't it the same thing?

    People won't boycott Apple.

    Let's face it. They make an MP3 that's better than just about any other company. No other MP3 player I know of can calculate playlists on the fly (except for PDAs) like the iPod can.

    Leslieah wants to force them to be nice. Let's face it.. It's rare that people become rich in this world by being nice and fair..... unless you live in France apparently.
    lauren.glenn@...
  • Pappy sez

    My Pappy always told me "A FOOL and his money will soon be parted!"
    schlicht@...