Apple and iPhone unlocking groups detail positions

Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior VP of worldwide product marketing, defended Apple's announcement that unlocking an iPhone may meet with disastrous results after installing iPhone updates expected later this week. Schiller, speaking in an AP interview, also implied the actions are not malicious, saying that the statement was not about "...proactively disabling a phone that is unlocked or hacked," and that it is "...unfortunate that some of these programs have caused damage to the iPhone software..." Meanwhile, both commercial and open source groups that have developed unlocking techniques referred to Apple's statements appear to view the announcement as a scare tactic. John McLaughlin of, which produces a commercial unlock tool, is also quoted in the AP interview. McLaughlin states that he believes the actions of's iPhoneSIMFree can be easily reversed to a functional and locked state. Members of the unofficial iPhone Dev Team that released free iPhone unlocking tools issued their own statement in which they claim as many as several hundred thousand iPhones have been unlocked worldwide using their tools. The statement also refutes Apple's claim that the tools cause any damage to the iPhone. The group advises against installing any updates to the iPhone and promises its own update sometime next week. Meanwhile, analyst Wu Shaw of American Technology Research has waded into the discussion. Shaw claims that only a small number of iPhone owners have attempted to unlock their devices and argues in favor of Apple's statements for reasons of stability and contractual obligations. He also indicates that Apple may eventually open the iPhone to multiple carriers within a country (though this seems unlikely until Apple's initial agreements with current carriers expire).

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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