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iPhone unlocking video hits Web

By Elizabeth Montalbano
August 29, 2007 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - A video showing the founder of a company in Belfast, Northern Ireland, unlocking the iPhone hit the Web early Wednesday U.K. time. It's intended to offer proof that software exists that can unlock Apple Inc.'s device so it can be used with cellular service provided by carriers other than AT&T.

In the six-minute video, posted on the iphoneunlocking.com blog, the hands of 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, 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 Corp. and Motorola Inc., and about 60% 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 Inc. has a long-term contract with Apple to be the exclusive U.S. provider of wireless service 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. George Hotz, 17, 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 at 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 a.m. in Belfast from a representative of O'Melveny & Myers LLP, 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 about whether he will distribute the software, but he noted that the video at least proves to naysayers that his company has unlocked the iPhone.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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