Friday, August 24, 2007

Is it a crime (or at least wrong) to sell lock-picks?: iPhone unlocked

No one ever doubted that the iPhone would be unlocked. It was only a matter of time before someone figured out how to crack the armor that heretofore has kept iPhone users from popping in a SIM card other than the iPhone-specific one that AT&T Wireless supplies with every new iPhone.

It seems that the team of someones at are the first to successfully pull off this feat. The group says it has unlocked the phone, and will be releasing its software for sale starting next week.

Unlocking the iPhone dramatically widens the phone's appeal. . . . .

Unlocking the iPhone is on net bad for consumers. Those who already have an iPhone or who are going to get one are possibly better off. The question though is whether this theft will alter AT&T's investments in future capabilities for its network and service. If it does, the consumers will not have quality of service that they would have had and that will work to reduce the iPhone's appeal. One presumes that since Apple wants to maximize iPhone's attractiveness relative to its costs, this cheating will move them away from the right mix of quality. The bigger problem is that this type of cheating reduces the incentives to invent and invest in devices such as iPhone to begin with.

UPDATE: This is about what I expected. This seems like pretty strong evidence that Apple for one doesn't think that it is better off by the unlocking of the iPhone.

The man informed McLaughlin that if he posted the unlock code, he could be sued for copyright infringement and for dissemination of Appleā€™s intellectual property. . . . .

UPDATE2: AT&T is now in the act.

Until an assessment is made of the potential of legal action, Uniquephones is unable to release the unlocking software for sale. The company spokesperson also said that the company would also be evaluating what to eventually do with the software should they be legally denied the right to sell it. A substantial delay caused by any legal action would render the unlocking software a less valuable commodity as well as creating unforeseen security issues for the company.

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