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back to article AT&T turns screws on iPhone unlocker

UniquePhones has pulled its iPhone unlocking service after receiving calls from lawyers claiming to represent AT&T and threatening to sue the Belfast-based firm for copyright infringement and illegal software dissemination. The call apparently came in the middle of the night, UK time, within hours of the intended launch of the …

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Crying wolf...

Seems to me that these folks were saying weeks and weeks ago that they had a working unlock but couldn't prove it. Now some better authenticated unlocks are in the news, and suddenly they're being targeted by big bad AT&T?

Is there any independent verification that this is happening?

I smell nonsense.

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Inferior handset, bullying tactics, poor service network

What moron would buy an iPhone? It can't do voice dialing, it comes locked to the arguably poorest cell phone network in North America, it's priced higher than comparable unlocked devices that *can* do voice dialing, and now AT&T is trying the be the RIAA of the cellular providers.

How stupid would a person have to be to buy an iPhone?

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@ Morely Dotes

I believe you have to be American.... nuff said

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Lawyers? Really?

So these folks received "calls from lawyers claiming to represent AT&T"? Really?

Please give me the number of these credulous people. I'd like to call 'em and claim to be the Martian ruler of the earth.

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Cupertino Fatwah

But, my brother, It's an Apple! You must get one if you expect to enter techno-paradise, where 9 new iPlods with unlimited iTunes credit await you!

Do not be an iNfidel; there is no phone but the iPhone, and Jobs collects its profits.

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Anonymous Coward

Morely Dotes hasn't ever used Sprint apparently

Quote:

locked to the arguably poorest cell phone network in North America,

Uh, you're forgetting Sprint. I dumped my Treo 650 on Sprint for an iPhone, and all I can say is WOW. On Sprint I got about 40% of my calls dropped, and lots of areas where I got no signal. ATT sounds better, hasn't dropped a call, and works well at my office and home (both poor coverage areas for Sprint.) Also the iPhone has made very clear calls with only 1 bar showing, where as my Treo wouldn't stay connected unless it had 3 or more bars.

Lastly regarding voice dial... it is a nice feature, but I paid nearly as much for a Treo 650 when they were first out, and they didn't have voice dial either, so I didn't lose voice dial moving to an iPhone.

Oh and just for the record, the Edge network has been super fast for me, streaming You Tube videos just fine, and quickly pulling up google maps even in remote coverage areas.

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Time Zones

Maybe AT&T called at "work hours", forgetting the UK is +5/+7 hours ahead of their local time? I wouldn't be the least surprised, the US thinks the world turns around them and everyone should do things "the American way". (Oh, and they took an entire continent's name as their country's "name" but that is another gripe for another day).

Anyway, somehow I doubt AT&T would care about a UK firm unlocking iPhones; too far away and useless as they don't serve mobile comms in the UK. ;)

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Apple users transcend stupidity

The answer, Morely, is that quite a few of the more rabid Apple users would buy a toilet brush, signed by the Great Steve himself, and argue about how superior it is, rather than - sensibly - realise that they're just talking shit.

Thankfully I know many Apple users who do not even go near the drooling stage on my rabid-o-meter, but that doesn't mean they're all so tame. Like the phrase "Please, God, protect me from your followers", I might ask the same of Jobs.

As for me owning an iPhone? Not a chance. I've seen how Apple screws its customers (just how does telco lock-in figure in the consumer's interests, exactly?) and I have no wish to join that sorry crew. Maybe the reason why some of the more rabid Apple fans talk with so much spittle is because they are simply bitter, and suffer from a severe case of buyer's remorse.

Oliver.

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AT&T - Reach out and spy on someone

That AT&T is rattling the legal saber is no surprise. They have a monopoly and want things to stay that way. That they should be allowed to do so I'm surprised as their actions will paint Apple with AT&Ts fascism. Perhaps this was the toll for getting a popular IP phone onto a cell network in the US.

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I thought..

.. that the iPhone was supposed to be this do it all, give consumers what they've been wanting on their portable devices product. At least that's what you are told in every iPhone advertisement. How ironic that now people are realizing that it doesn't do everything they want, and when they try to find ways to make it their own, the company that supposedly prides itself as a icon of fostering individuality would stomp the customer down and tell them "You'll use it the way I want you to." You don't keep customers with this kind of mentality.

I also don't see how any company could be sued for providing mods like this. This is not the same ground as stealing copyrights or DeCSS. You're not Isn't it a bit like a car company trying to sue a non OEM parts supplier? You bought the phone, so you own it. I would imagine chipping a phone to make it do something different would fall under the same proctection as chipping a car ECU. It may void your warranty but it certainly isn't illegal.

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Whew - glad it isn't me

"UniquePhones has pulled its iPhone unlocking service after receiving calls from lawyers claiming to represent AT&T and threatening to sure the Belfast-based firm for copyright infringement and illegal software dissemination."

I hate it when I get "sure'ed"

<grin>

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You've probably never even used an iPhone!

@Morely Dotes

Clearly you don't understand that the iPhone is the most revolutionary technological advancement in the last 20 years! Apple has been constantly pushing the envelope on innovation but you naysayers are too closed minded to see it. You are the same people who ruined AppleTalk (the best networking protocol ever invented ) by adopting TCP/IP just because it's open, fast, functional, and actually works as advertised.

You people really need to stop thinking that just because you or 99% of the population can't see how great an Apple product is doesn't mean it's just an overpriced piece of junk. They're NOT. Apple products are innovative and valuable.

You need to stop assuming innovative means better. When it comes to Apple it doesn't. It simple means doing something totally different from every other rational person on the planet. Apple's innovations allow me to do things completely differently from every other PC or cell phone user. These innovations aren't better, just different. Doing things differently makes me individual. Being obsessively individual is what iLife is all about.

Apple products (mainly the iPhone) are NOT overpriced. Like I said earlier, "Apple products are...valuable." You may not be able to see the value BUT I know it's there. How else could a company charge $600 for a cell phone? This is a clear case of "You Get What You Pay For" and when I bought my iPhone I got a $600 dollar cell phone.

Outrageous price is, in all actuality, a great feature of ALL Apple products. With out an extremely inflated price average/unworthy people like you could afford to experience iLife, and that my friend is an experience reserved only for the wealthy or the true believers!

My iphone was the single most important purchase of my life.You asked earlier, "How stupid would a person have to be to buy an iPhone?" They would have to be just as stupid as me. Because I am the kind of, "moron [who] would buy an iPhone"!

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Dan

hmmm

This strikes me as ironic since didn't Apple start out by selling Blue Boxes anyways?

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joe

@Daniel Ballado-Torres

Speaking of not knowing things:

- The last time I checked, the Americas included *two* continents ("North America" and "South America") plus quite a large number of islands. Perhaps that nice young lady from the youtube video can find you a map.

- The Eastern and Pacific time zones (the two with the largest populations) are +5 and +8, respectively. Nobody wants to go to +7, because that is where George Bush lives.

- I agree, the Englishmen who named the country probably could have made a better choice. But what's done is done, and even saying "United States" instead isn't perfect, both because it results in having to use really stupid words to describe the citizens (United Statesians? Estadosunidenses?) and because the Estados Unidos Mexicanos also have fair claim on that name. Thankfully, their country was named by more sensible folk who understood the importance of scope and unique identifiers. (See, even an IT angle.)

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dan

likely vaporware

UniquePhones has thus far failed to provide any evidence that their software does is able to unlock the iPhone without a 3rd party sim card, or hardware methods...

By every appearance, the claim looks to be vaporware, and it is a definite possibility that the claim of legal threats is an excuse for not having the product advertised.

I think that AT&T would have every right to be ticked at someone trying to profit from a phone that they have an exclusive contract on... but I would expect any threat of legal action to be in document form, not a voicemail left right before a release date....

--

@Ogdru

anyone who complains that $500/$600 is too expensive for the unsubsidized iPhone must be ignorant of the $500 retail price of the Blackberry 8800, $600 Blackberry 8830, and $600 Palm Treo 750 - all locked to a single network.

The real crime is AT&T requiring a 2-year service agreement when they are not subsidizing the phone.

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dan

@ joe

speaking of not knowing things....

- The +7, Central time zone, included approx 33% of registered U.S. citizens as of 2004. The Pacific time zone included approx 14%.... not really that large.

And if you are going to bring Bush into this, I will point out that he is a native of Connecticut, and has homes in Texas as well as at least two Eastern states (ME and CT)... but that is neither here nor there, and is irrelevant to a discussion about the iPhone.

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J

I don't understand...

...two things: 1) why people get so rabid about all things Apple (both pro and against)?; and 2) unless I miss something here (which is likely, since I don't follow this closely) why would either Apple or AT&T care about this unlocking business?

Because, for Apple, the more iPhones sold the better, so they shouldn't care that people are unlocking their phones to use with whomever. They already paid their $500-600 so why care. AT&T would have more reason to care, because they are losing a potential customer. But they do not subsidize the iPhone. And people who unlock the phone because they do not want to be on AT&T would NOT be their customers anyway to begin with -- if they can't unlock the iPhone, they will go with another phone and provider, I suppose.

@joe:

What about Central America? Just because they are small, you ignore them? Shame on you. And the name is still screwed up no matter how many Americas there are, because it's not United States of North America, is it?

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@Stephen Grey

You stole my line!!! LOL

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@ J

Apple and AT&T care for 2 reasons: Money and money.

Yes, Apple will sell more iPhones, but then they don't get 10% of your monthly bill as a kick back - which, over the course of 2 years, is worth a hell of a lot more than the $600 iPhone (and on top of that, they sell the phone as well)

AT&T cares because, although this company is offering to unlock iPhones overseas, they pay Apple a LOT of money to be the exclusive American network - as soon as you can unlock it, people will be using them on other telco networks and thus (to use MPAA/RIAA parlance) "robbing" them of their "deserved" cash.

Unlocking phones to run on other providers, when the supplier and monopoly networks have sole rights to do so, means that both of them have to cry themselves to sleep on smaller piles of cash of an evening.

After all, they're just victims in this.

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lot of money

I am not rich or even close but the things you have to do to

unlock this are not even remotely safe for your 600 dollar

phone hardware hacking is all well and good and a lot of

fun but this seems a little over the top "ATT bad as it can be"

may not be the worst outcome for most people I don't get Apples'

marketing strategy on this it seems crazy.Who do you suppose

thought this alliance was a good thing these companies aren't

terribly compatible in their outlook or customer base.

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Ambivalent

I am a Macologist (can I patent that?), I am typing this on a brand spanking new MacBook Pro 17", a retirement present to myself.

I don't have a mobile (cell) phone, I'm not important enough although I did use a company supplied one - as rarely as I could. Today most of my communication is via the internet, including the likes of Skype (if I have to) and I am about to change to wireless broadband from landline broadband. If I make five landline calls a month it's a lot.

So when the iPhone hits the Australian market (whenever) I plan to get one and get rid of the landline altogether in part because next northern hemisphere summer I plan to do a big tour of that neck of the woods and a cell phone would be useful.

Seems to me that for my purposes the iPhone suits me ideally however the likes of AT&T are never going to get much custom out of me since phones, per se, are not something that I am enamoured of. Having said that, what the iPhone otherwise offers is, mostly, a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

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+7 Huh?

Um, the Central Standard Time zone is Z-6 hours, not Z+7.

Re iPhone: I can think of no legal right, beyond voiding the warranty, that Apple might have concerning modifications. AT&T has no dog in the fight, as they do not participate in the purchase.

@ Daniel Ballado-Torres

"<snip> (Oh, and they took an entire continent's name as their country's "name" but that is another gripe for another day)."

No, we took the name "The United States *of* America", not "America". We mostly refer to the country as "the U S" or the "U S of A", or "the States". We call our country "America" too, and we do refer to ourselves as Americans. Does that diminish you? Are you so ashamed of your own country's name? What self referential term would you prefer we use?

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@ Gary Trner

Re: What self referential term would you prefer we use?

With your response, how about something along the lines of "The Congealed Mass of Evangalists" or just simple "septics" would surely suffice?

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How not to argue..

Quoting 'Ogdru'

"You are the same people who ruined AppleTalk (the best networking protocol ever invented ) by adopting TCP/IP just because it's open, fast, functional, and actually works as advertised."

How can you say AppleTalk was 'the best ever invented' when it failed miserably, against something, you yourself stated was fast, functional and actually worked ?

A dumbass point of view on any arguement is bound to cheer up anyone's day !!

I have to say though, chances of me getting an iPhone are very high, IF, someone happens to give me one, with the best call package on the planet for a monthly fee of £0.

Otherwise, not a chance !

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joe

@responses

@j: Central America is not a continent. It is generally considered to be a part of North America, although the actual geological situation is somewhat more complex than this.

@Gary: my mistake, I added when I should have subtracted.

@Dan: my mistake on the population density, but I still consider Bush a Texan (he was governor, after all), and hope that one day the Texan nationalists will secede and take the whole family with them. Besides, the Pacific time zone will grow when the governator decides he needs more "lebensraum" and annexes all of the nearby states.

And I stand by my statement that the name of the country is the fault of the Englishmen who created it.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Gary Trner

Re: What self referential term would you prefer we use?

What about "Fascist World"

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@ Gary Trner

Re: What self referential term would you prefer we use?

I like Gumpville

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Anonymous Coward

ummm.....

one question..... does AT&T actually have any jurisdiction over the Belfast company....?

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Voice Dialling?

@Morely Dotes

>What moron would buy an iPhone? It can't do voice dialing

I have to say that I've owned several phones with voice dialling and I've never used it once, never particularly wanted to. I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone use voice dialling now I come to think about it. how many people use that feature?

would I like an iphone... perhaps. I'll probably look more favourably on it when they come out with a second gen version with 3g and fixes for all the first gen issues that have and will come up.

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@dan

Doesn't Bush also rent that small property on Pennsylvania Ave, DC with the sniper-wired fence?

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@ Ian O'Friel

I think you may have misinterpreted sarcasm there.

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@ Craig

If i misinterpreted sarcasm, it's probably because there was a lack of it, it was definitely the rantings of an apple fanboy

don't get me wrong, the Apple vs PC is an unending one, and i have my favourites on each side, but when it comes to it, apples can do superior things in certain areas, other areas, it just has to be a PC

The same goes for phones, at the end of the day, it's an overpriced, restricted phone, if you want one, buy one, if not, buy something else.

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@ Ian O'Friel

LOL! Yet another person who can't spot sarcasm.

Are you American? Erm I mean Unitedstatesian? Erm I mean Usofanian? Oh what the hell.

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@Craig

you clearly forgot the tags for our friends in the states....

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Bronze badge

@ Ian O'Friel

You just failed the Internet.

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Anonymous Coward

Is this just a modern version of this...

http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/comments/papparticle2.html

My idea was that had Mr. Papp sent his engine to the Stanford Research Institute as announced, the game would be up in a few days. Therefore an explosion just big enough to destroy the engine would keep the game going a little longer; it would show the tremendous power of the engine, and, most importantly, it would provide a reason for investors to put more money into the project, now the engine had to be rebuilt. We all agreed that the explosion was much larger than Mr. Papf probably intended.

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@Ogdru

LOL man. Shame there's so many Baldricks here who think irony is like goldy and bronzy, only it’s made of iron. :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Stay Another Day

"Quoting 'Ogdru'

"You are the same people who ruined AppleTalk (the best networking protocol ever invented ) by adopting TCP/IP just because it's open, fast, functional, and actually works as advertised."

How can you say AppleTalk was 'the best ever invented' when it failed miserably, against something, you yourself stated was fast, functional and actually worked ?

A dumbass point of view on any arguement is bound to cheer up anyone's day !!"

No, you silly man. Mr Ogdru is mocking Appletalk, and praising TCP/IP, by adoping the mannerisms and opinions of Apple fans, and exaggerating them for comic effect. Mr Ogdru is skilled in the way of wit.

Whilst I'm in the mood for anger and hatred, I would like to destroy every human being who uses the word "rediculous". That's not relevant to this article, or even this comments thread, I just had to say it.

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Antitrust Violation

Surely what AT&T and Apple are insisting for is illegal? Telephones are supposed BY LAW to be able to be unlocked for use on ANY network with which they are physically compatible. This encourages fair competition on merits alone. In some countries, the networks aren't even allowed to lock phones in the first place!

@Ogdru: Classic ..... :D

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@Gary Trner

The most common term I've heard around here is "this country", presumably because most people in England aren't sure whether they mean England, Great Britain or the United Kingdom. No doubt other member countries of the UK don't have this problem.

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@Ogdru

work for Apples marketting department do we ?

Most important technical innovation in twenty years ?

Most important purchase of my life ?

Get a grip man

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@ Ogdru

so... Where do you work at Apple then? :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Title

United Statesians! Estadosunidenses! Americans!

Best one I ever found was "Merkin" and we all know what a merkin is don't we.

http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/merkin

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Anonymous Coward

Sarcasm

How is it that anyone missed the sarcasm in Ogdru's statements? I mean, I'm a UnitesStatesofAmerican and even I picked up on it!

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Setting the record strait...

@dan

“anyone who complains that $500/$600 is too expensive for the unsubsidized iPhone must be ignorant of the $500 retail price of the Blackberry 8800, $600 Blackberry 8830, and $600 Palm Treo 750 - all locked to a single network.”

You are completely right the Blackberry 8800 & 8830 and Palm Treo 750 are over priced devices that allow you send & receive email using your cell carrier’s network. Everyone knows that sending & receiving critical business information from a mobile device is very 2 years ago. Apple is innovating and looking to the future while everyone else is continuing to provide useful functionality.

Apple (as well as anyone in the know) understands the future of the business world is the ability to play YouTube video and send messages on Myspace. I can’t tell you how many deals I’ve lost not because I had to wait till I found a Starbucks of McDonalds to check my email on my iPhone, but because my (old) Blackberry’s browser was to cumbersome to allow me to quickly respond to a clients Friend Request on Myspace.

For everyone who’s still not convinced, I closed a 5.6 million dollar deal yesterday. I did this not by having critical information available at my fingertips (which I clearly can’t access by using my iPhone), but by playing that Skateboarding Dog clip from Youtube. Having the president, board of director, purchasing agent, director of HR and IT all huddled around my iPhone created a sense of community and closeness that really closed the deal.

You see productivity and functionality are dead! Long live feel good, and community building!

“The real crime is AT&T requiring a 2-year service agreement when they are not subsidizing the phone.”

HEY! AT&T is paying A LOT of money to Apple for the privilege of provide iPhone users the very best service available on any carrier. AT&T is simply using a 2-year contract to protect you from ever having to experiencing the crappy level of service provided by other carriers. iPhone users should really be thank full that Apple decided that the carrier that paid them the most would provide the optimal iPhone experience. It’s obvious that the carrier that payed the most money Apple has the best network.

@Ian O’Friel

Who is more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him.

APPLE FOR LIFE!

@Graham Bartlett

I don’t know what your talking about…

I have never been ironic or sarcastic in my life.

@Ashley Pomeroy

No real need for exaggeration when talking about my beloved Apple. It’s comical enough all on its own.

@Andy Enderby

“Most important technical innovation in twenty years?” is just echoing a quote from a fellow iLifer on the Engadget comments. Most importantly it’s correct!

@Jason Rivers

I work for Apple’s Truth Enhancement Department.

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Re: Americans

"I wouldn't be the least surprised, the US thinks the world turns around them and everyone should do things "the American way""

Having a GDP of over 10 trillion USD will do that... And who exactly are you referring to, when you say "the US"?? The US government? The US population?? All 300 million of us??? Wow, you're not ignorant at all...

"(Oh, and they took an entire continent's name as their country's "name" but that is another gripe for another day)."

Oh, and by the way, the name of the country is "United States of America". It's everyone else that tends to just say "America". You have my full permission to refer to "America" as "the US", thereby removing your completely asinine objection.

Are you really so bored, and do you really have such little other material that you feel like your only recourse is to try to ignorantly make fun of 300 million other people whom you've never met? Pitiful...

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S

@Ogdru

You win at teh intarweb.

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