Apple iPhone: now sold without AT&T contract

Yes, Virginia, you can buy an iPhone legally in the U.S. sans AT&T contract. But don't celebrate just yet: it's full price and it's still carrier-locked. Also, in IT Blogwatch, bloggers doubt that it can be unlocked.

By Richi Jennings. March 23, 2010.

(AAPL) (T)

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention Zero Day...     Seth Weintraub has news you can use:

You no longer need an AT&T plan to purchase an iPhone. ... Anyone can walk into an Apple Store and pick up an iPhone 8GB for $499, 16GB for $599 and 32GB for $699. ... The iPhones are still locked to AT&T's network ... unless you are going to jailbreak it. ... According to the ... Apple Store employee ... we talked to, ... "everyone knows it takes 2 minutes to unlock them".

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AT&T, for their part, are again selling refurbished iPhones at a $50 discount.
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Joshua Topolsky is disappointed:

These devices are still locked to AT&T -- so you're just looking at an off contract pricing scheme. Which is also totally lame. ... We've confirmed this info at no less than five stores, so you should be hearing the same message at your local Appletorium. ... And it's certainly not much of a statement. In many parts of Europe ... you can pick up the carrier-unattached device (and we mean totally unlocked).
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MG Siegler thinks back:

It’s no different from what Apple did last year at this time: sell contract-free iPhones at unsubsidized prices. ... It seems fairly obvious that’s it’s an attempt to move inventory before a new piece of iPhone hardware launches in ... June or July. ... In the U.S., even if it is unlocked, the phone will only be able to work on T-Mobile as well as AT&T.

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Because of the price and restrictions, this move will probably have minimal impact. ... Don’t be surprised if when the fourth generation iPhone is announced, if we also hear about a price cut for the current iPhone 3GS down to $99.
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Not so fast, says Alexander Vaughn, you might have trouble unlocking these:

Since we’re still waiting for someone to find an unlock for the 3.1.3 firmware, you also won’t be able to use these units on any other carrier than AT&T for now, so ... this will mostly just get you an expensive ... iPod touch with a camera.

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Without an unlock, it almost doesn’t matter if they require a plan anymore.
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Iian Keh smacks his forehead:

Interesting, to say the least, but the fact that customers still have to deal with AT&T doesn’t make the position they’re in any easier. ... What is the point in selling a device that is still tied to the network, but purchasable without a contract?
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Shelly Palmer summarizes:

The iPhone will still only work on the AT&T network, so is there really a point? Well, no actually, there isn’t.
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So what's your take?
Get involved: leave a comment.

 
 
And finally...

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter, or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itblogwatch@richij.com.

 
 
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