Apple and AT&T playing "good cop, bad cop" over iPhone unlocking

Apple and AT&T playing "good cop, bad cop" over iPhone unlocking

Summary: It's been interesting to observe the iPhone unlocking efforts by the hacking community, but it's been entertaining to see how this will be countered by legal, technical and policy changes. So far I'm seeing Apple play the role of good cop and AT&T being the bad cop. While AT&T has gone ahead and released the legal hounds, Apple has been pretty quiet.

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TOPICS: iPhone, Apple, Mobility, AT&T
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It's been interesting to observe the iPhone unlocking efforts by the hacking community, but it's been entertaining to see how this will be countered by legal, technical and policy changes.  So far I'm seeing Apple play the role of good cop and AT&T being the bad cop.  While AT&T has gone ahead and released the legal hounds, Apple has been pretty quiet.

First off, let's dispel the idea that Apple won't lose out (financially) because of iPhones being freed from AT&Ts grip.  Apple gets a cut of the fees that AT&T receives from both existing customers that switch to the iPhone and a bigger cut for new customers.  Apple will make more money from the iPhone if customers sign up with AT&T than if they don't.  From this point of view, Apple has an incentive to make unlocking the iPhone as difficult as possible.

But so far, Apple doesn't seem to be all that bothered by all this talk of unlocking and seems to be allowing AT&T to go after the hackers alone (and field all the flak from this move).  It's a similar position to that which Apple takes to DRM - Steve Jobs gives off all the signals of being someone who is opposed to the idea of DRM and takes on the position of being as much of a victim of the recording studios as customers.  Clever.

My guess is that Apple is happy with the current situation.  Unlocking the iPhone is tricky and beyond the capability of most of the users.  For the few that want an iPhone but dislike AT&T enough to want do something about it (or who just want the feeling of being able to stick it to Apple, AT&T or both companies), Apple is happy to sell them a phone that they might be able to unlock.  I'm also guessing that Apple engineers will engage in cat and mouse games with the hackers just to keep AT&T happy.

Thoughts?

Topics: iPhone, Apple, Mobility, AT&T

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  • Long shot of that jumping sign

    I don't dispute the underlying facts. I question whether you actually show collusive
    behavior where AT&T is mean and Apple is sympathetic and empathetic and offers
    a "safer" path to the hackers and the potential buyers of hacked iPhones. That
    would really be the bad cop good cop dynamic.

    (Apple brushes off a hair from his turtleneck shirt and looks down at the sweating
    17 year old. "Hey, you did that with a soldering gun. That's so cool. Reminds me
    of my days with Woz in our garage. Look, any moment AT&T is going to ask me to
    step out for a cup of coffee and then I won't be able to do a thing while he seizes
    all your parents' assets, puts you and your family on all the terrorist watch lists,
    and ask certain friendlies to spread the word that you've cracked WoW for profit.
    You.. and I.. don't want that to be the outcome of your bitchin', well that's the
    word I used when I was your age, work on something you own. Tell you what, just
    sign this license that says if you sell open iPhones, you give $150 to us and $150
    to AT&T. That's it. Something for you, something for us, and your family can still
    fly to Disney World. Hey, I want to reward initiative. But AT&T, it's the phone
    company dude, they're crazy and Texans. You do the math.")

    I also note that you wrote "it?s been entertaining to see how this will be.." and I
    think the tense change escaped your notice in editing and rewriting. It may be
    entertaining to speculate how this will be handled by AT&T and Apple, and indeed,
    here I am having fun writing cliched cop tv scenes.
    DannyO_0x98
  • Unlocking may not harm Apple financially

    Althought they would lose out on the AT&T contract revenue, it may open a far greater revenue stream in the form of direct hardware purchases by individuals on other networks.

    That revenue stream [b]could[/] far outweigh the AT&T contract revenue.

    I reckon its a win/win for Apple.
    nmh
    • Except for ONE thing.

      [b]That revenue stream could far outweigh the AT&T contract revenue.

      I reckon its a win/win for Apple. [/b]

      Except for one thing. There's this sticky little bit in the above mentioned contract that makes the iPhone an AT&T [u]EXCLUSIVE[/u] for the next FIVE years.

      Because of this Apple can't legally sell their hardware to ANYONE without the AT&T contract.
      Wolfie2K3
  • all this is silly...

    Everyone is weighing corporate motivations with the wrong end users in mind.
    Who wants to unlock their iPhone? Two groups of people:
    * Free Software fans. They want to unlock as a matter of conscience, to show it
    can be done, etc.
    * Travellers. This is the group no one has mentioned.

    There are only two providers of GSM service in the USA, and TMobile doesn't have
    dramatically cheaper prices--not worth the effort to unlock. Besides, YOU WILL
    STILL HAVE TO PAY TWO YEARS OF AT&T MONTHLY FEES whatever you do.

    Travellers are used to paying for their phone service (and broadband provider, and
    mortgage...) while they're abroad. But we need to be able to stick another SIM card
    in our phone as we land in Europe or Africa or South America. THIS is why you
    unlock a GSM phone - so you can travel!

    Use of the iPhone outside US borders makes no difference to Apple (they get their
    cut from the AT&T monthly fee even when you're in another country), and it
    SHOULDN'T make a difference to AT&T. They get their monthly fee as well.

    When I bought my Treo 3 years ago, I waited the prescribed 3 months, called the
    secret phone number at Cingular, and got the unlock code so I could travel to
    Europe later that year. For the iPhone, the procedure should be no different
    (except they should make the phone number easier to find!).
    cksmith
    • Not quite...

      [b]There are only two providers of GSM service in the USA, and TMobile doesn't have dramatically cheaper prices--not worth the effort to unlock. Besides, YOU WILL STILL HAVE TO PAY TWO YEARS OF AT&T MONTHLY FEES whatever you do.[/b]

      1.) T-Mo's got a better deal, minutes-wise than ALL of the other carriers. 1000 anytime minutes, free roaming/LD, unlimited nights/weekends for $39.99 a month.

      AT&T's $39.99 special only gives you 450 mins.

      Granted, data isn't factored into either of the above plans, but both charge about $20 a month for that.

      2.) There IS such a thing as the early termination fee. You can pay AT&T $200 and they'll shred your contract. Of course, this makes the iPhone a paperweight - UNLESS, of course, you can get it unlocked. Not a cheap solution, but hey... It IS an option.
      Wolfie2K3
  • Apple gains from the unlocking.

    "First off, let?s dispel the idea that Apple won?t lose out (financially) because of iPhones being freed from AT&Ts grip. Apple gets a cut of the fees that AT&T receives from both existing customers that switch to the iPhone and a bigger cut for new customers. Apple will make more money from the iPhone if customers sign up with AT&T than if they don?t. From this point of view, Apple has an incentive to make unlocking the iPhone as difficult as possible."

    Yes, Apple makes [i]extra[/i] money from AT&T customers locked into using the iPhone. However, Apple has a preference for making their money on sales. I'm sure that Apple makes less from the sale of an iPhone through AT&T than if the phone were sold at an Apple store. The AT&T pass-through to Apple was probably to offset the discount that AT&T got on the phones. At least with direct sales, they get the money right away.
    Letophoro
  • Cell phone unlocking legal (for three years)

    [url=http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061124-8280.html]FYI[/url]
    D T Schmitz
  • Apple against cell phone "DRM"?

    Here's an interesting post I saw at another site:

    Remember the Apple "1984" commercial? Now imagine "Big Brother" being AT&T (or any U.S. telecommunications company that "locks" a phone to only one service provider). Think about it! Apple made the 5-year deal with AT&T because they HAD to. They HAD to hook up with a carrier just because of how the cell business now works in the U.S. But they knew very well that the iPhone would eventually be unlocked and people would be having this debate about the "lock-in" that's forced on consumers. It was a very clever way to start the consumer "revolution" that will lead to a free choice of carrier like most of the rest of the world enjoys now. What other phone but the iPhone could pull that off? In five years, all phones you buy in the U.S. will be unlocked. Brilliant!
    Userama
    • Um.. I don't think so...

      [b]Think about it! Apple made the 5-year deal with AT&T because they HAD to. They HAD to hook up with a carrier just because of how the cell business now works in the U.S.[/b]

      Cell phone companies (i.e. Nokia, Motorola, etc) DO make deals with providers but they NEVER go for 5 years. How long did it take the Moto RAZR to go from Verizon to EVERY provider under the sun AND go from the hot phone to have to the disposable comodity it is now? Not THAT long. The first RAZR shipped in November 2005 - NOT even two years ago.

      Secondly, THE reason that the contract was made for 5 years was to cover AT&T's end - they had to invest a significant chunk of change in the infrastructure upgrades needed to support the new features - visual voicemail, etc...
      Wolfie2K3
  • Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai

    Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai and her husband actor Abhishek Bachchan were spotted walking in Boston, Massachusetts. Aishwarya Rai is currently in Boston to film The Next Pink Panther.

    The casually outfit couple looked comfortable and glad. Aishwarya Rai wore jeans of right end of high tide with a yellow top of v-neck. Abhishek was attired pareillement in jeans and a full white of casings sweated the shirt.

    Aishwarya Rai, 33, seems to have had hair make. It maintained the model posed unequal but the glance of hair a lighter of shade and less bulky.

    Abhishek, which is the ambassador of mark for Flying Machine jeans, recently indicated the pressure, ???I am most comfortable in a pair of jean. ???

    We see that that here and if all is well such are jeans of machine of flight which it carries because it also said, ???the flying machine, is on the par with the rest, creativement and technically. It takes place about time when we took a step on the international platform here as well???.

    Abhishek Bachchan, which is currently stripping for Drona, appears to have the hangar any weight additional, which it gained during the stripping of the guru. It is known to strike the room of gymnastics rather regularly nowadays.
    http://aishwaryaraifanclub.net/Aishwarya-Abhishek-in-boston-01.jpg

    http://aishwaryaraifanclub.net/Aishwarya-Abhishek-in-boston-02.jpg

    source: http://aishwaryaraifanclub.net
    info@...