Report: No iPhone unlock for you

iPhoneSIMFree will sell only to resellers in lots of 50 or more licenses, says e-mail

One of the groups that claims it has developed an unlock hack for Apple's iPhone is now saying it will only offer the software to resellers, not to individuals, a popular technology blog reported Monday.

According to an e-mail message sent to interested volume sellers -- and posted by Engadget Monday -- iPhoneSIMFree said it would not sell the unlock directly to iPhone owners. "iphonesimfree.com is a wholesale only company," read the e-mail. "Although we could, we do not and will not sell directly to end users, because we want to work together with our valuable resellers as a team and not interfere in their business."

Late last month, iPhoneSIMFree said it had created software which would let iPhone owners make calls on mobile networks other than AT&T, the smart phone's official, and exclusive, carrier in the U.S. Unlocking the iPhone is contrary to Apple's intent; according to the company, iPhones must be activated only with AT&T, and buyers must subscribe to a two-year AT&T calling plan. Even so, Apple has made no public announcement about iPhoneSIMFree or any other of several unlocking schemes that have been publicized.

iPhoneSIMFree's e-mail also outlined the unlock process and spelled out its pricing structure. The unlock requires that a file be installed on the iPhone, and a connection made to the iPhoneSIMFree servers; the latter, said iPhoneSIMFree, links the specific iPhone to the unlock. Resellers will handle part of the process.

Prices will range from US$25 per unlock (in lots of 5,000 or more) to US$36 (in lots of 50).

The company, which has no mailing address, has kept its composition and the identity of its developers, under wraps. Its Web site, for example, uses an anonymity service to cloak the usual address, phone number, and contact person information searchable via WHOIS.

iPhoneSIMFree also said it would not guarantee that the unlock would work in the future. "It does currently work on all firmware versions, up to and including, 1.02," said iPhoneSIMFree in the e-mail quoted by Engadget. "We will naturally try to provide our resellers an updated version of our software for each firmware update, it is in our interest, but we do NOT guarantee that we will be able to do so."

Apple's iPhone updates have required users who installed hacks or work-arounds to restore their devices from scratch, which erased the modifications. The most recent update, 1.0.2, however, did not make cripple most hacks, as had the first firmware update.

An Irish company that announced another unlock has been silent on the subject for a week. UniquePhones last mentioned its iPhone unlock on Aug. 28 when it posted video of an unlock in progress. Prior to that, UniquePhones had said it would start selling its unlock Aug. 25, but backed off after receiving a phone call it said came from a California law firm representing AT&T.

Another unlock, a Czech product dubbed TurboSIM, is currently unavailable; its maker's Web ordering site had been inundated, and now sports messages such as "Sorry, temporarily closed" beside the unlock product.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld

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