iPhone unlocking video hits Web

A video showing a handset-unlocking vendor unlocking the iPhone with software has appeared on the Web.

A video showing the founder of a Belfast, Northern Ireland company unlocking the iPhone hit the Web early Wednesday U.K. time as proof that software exists that can unlock Apple's device for use with carriers other than AT&T.

In the six-minute video, posted on the iphoneunlocking.com blog, John McLaughlin, founder of Uniquephones, is seen with a PC and an iPhone unlocking the device using software from his company.

In the video, McLaughlin takes the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card out of a Vodafone Blackberry device and puts it into the iPhone. He then makes two phone calls using the device. The video was shot at his house in Northern Ireland, he said.

The video, which was shot at McLaughlin's house in Northern Ireland, is of poor quality, as noted in his blog entry. "Sorry about the focus, it was done late night using a Nokia N95, but you'll see the process," he wrote.

Uniquephones already unlocks phones from many manufacturers, including Nokia and Motorola, and about 60 percent of its customers are in the U.S.

The video is the second time someone has tried to prove a software-only method exists to unlock the iPhone. AT&T has a long-term contract with Apple to be the exclusive U.S. wireless carrier for the phone, a fact that has irked iPhone users who want to have the option of using another carrier's service. The iPhone isn't yet available officially outside the U.S.

The race to unlock the iPhone began as soon as the device hit stores June 29. Beginning last Friday, reports began to surface that a teenager in New Jersey had won. Seventeen-year-old George Hotz, who has since traded his unlocked iPhone for a new car, unlocked the phone via software and hardware modifications, the latter of which required soldering. However, most observers agreed that not many users would want to tinker with such an expensive device this way.

On the same day, a company called iPhoneSimFree.com and McLaughlin both claimed to have the first software-only unlocking method, but iPhoneSimFree.com was the first to show it to a credible third party, an editor of Engadget.com.

McLaughlin had planned to post his company's method for unlocking the iPhone to the Web site iphoneunlocking.com last Saturday, but it didn't go up. He said he feared legal action by AT&T Wireless if he posted the software because of a phone call he received at 3:00 a.m. in Belfast from a representative of O'Melveny & Myers, an international law firm calling on AT&T's behalf. McLaughlin claimed the caller said Uniquephones.com would be distributing and infringing upon the copyright of Apple's intellectual property if he began selling the software to iPhone subscribers.

As of Tuesday, McLaughlin said he is still undecided whether he will distribute the software, but that the video at least proves to naysayers that his company has unlocked the iPhone.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

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