back to article Orange's Apple deal to bear unlocked iPhones

Orange will indeed offer Apple's iPhone on France, but the most interesting aspect of the two firms' partnership will be the availability, for the first time, of officially unlocked handsets. French law prevents carriers from tying handsets exclusively to their networks - consumers have to be able to move to a different …

COMMENTS

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  1. Nick Hill
    Jobs Horns

    It's not *that* different in the UK

    Since the handset is sold with no network subsidy, you should be able to demand it be unlocked for a fair fee (aprox £30)

    Will be interesting to see how they deal with this.

    Given the average life expectancy of an iPod, the next iPhone will be out waaay before the 18mths is up.

    I think apple lost an opportunity to really shake things up here, but never underestimate greed! (selling unlocked phones)

  2. matt carey

    Cost comparison

    Which do we think will be cheaper:

    an iphone with O2 on an 18 month contract

    OR

    an unlocked iphone from Orange, a return trip on the eurostar and a SIM only contract from any network in the UK?

  3. Bill Fresher
    Thumb Up

    Vive La France!

    Hurrah for the French.

  4. gautam

    One Guess!

    It will be priced twice the normal to deter a run on unlocked handsets.

    ps. Second guess: A lot of mugs will still go and buy this ridiculously priced handsets.

    Where are the chinese clones ?

  5. MG

    It's a mobile phone ffs...

    Yes it has a great evolutionary UI and it's a reasonable attractive piece of kit but, oh the downsides....

    Make no mistake, if it were not for Apple Inc's crusade against the consumer (locking down functionality, tying in to prohibitive contracts etc etc) and the serious limitations of the first gen hardware (2.5G, non replaceable battery etc etc) I too would be mildly excited about it.

    But at the end of the day it's a mobile phone that doesn't have the features I expect of a connected device in 2007, won't let me add them myself, and wants me to bend over backwards for a serious shafting from the network operators.

    The technology to deliver the holy grail of mobile devices has existed for several years and, if it wasn't for these meddling bean counters crippling this, locking down that and proprietarising the other in their short sighted and ill fated efforts to milk me for another buck, it would be in my pocket already.

    So forgive me if I yawn at the idea of a legitimately unlocked (from the network ops only I assume) iPhone across the channel.

  6. Chris Wood

    Still need an Orange contract?

    Am I missing something here? Who said the unlocked iPhones would be SIM-free (and hence contract free)?

    Surely you would still be required to sign up for a contract with Orange in France to get the unlocked iPhone? This would probably require a French address for credit checking and direct debit purposes which would probably stop any foreigners from easily picking one up.

    Of course iPhones would probably start popping up on the French eBay at inflated prices before long, and the unlocked iPhone might offer some help when trying to unlock those already available.

  7. Anteaus

    Title

    It's time the UK followed Belgium and put a stop to simlocking.

    Phones would then have to sell for realistic prices, and airtime-providers would have to compete on a level playing-field.

  8. Steve
    Thumb Up

    French law

    It won't just be a matter of selling unlocked phones beside locked ones. AFAIK, French law requires that after 6 months the operator *must* give you the unlock code if you ask for it. They're entitled to a certain amount of lock-in to recover a subsidy, but not a permanent lock-in. I certainly had no problem getting the unlock code for my old phone from SFR when I changed to a newer model.

  9. Shaun Vizer
    Thumb Up

    Unlocked Phones

    Whilst I can appreciate that Apple like any other company are essentially money making machines and that to release unlocked phones may seem to be disadvantegous for a company I really do believe they like many other companys only have a short term view and could make more money if they took a more long term view

    I would put forward a suggestion that the iPod was not just successful because of it's physical design but because it hit at the time that music was being downloaded for free on the net in large quantities. Which then allowed you to play all those mp3's on a great device.

    The same principle could be said for phones, it has been a long while since a great mobile has come along and taken the populace by suprise, i really think the iPhone could have been that but locking into providors is such a misaligned view that frankly it hobbles a companies ability to dominate a market.

    My 2p

    Cheers

  10. jubtastic1

    Can someone clarify?

    I've read other reports that say this French law only applies after six months, is this the case? and if not how does Orange selling an even more expensive unlocked phone remove them from the legal obligation with the normal iPhone?

    If I can daytrip to Paris and pick up an unlocked iPhone for €399 I'm buying one, otherwise Apple won't see my Sterling until v2 with 3rd party apps.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. John A Blackley

    Still Amazed

    It started with the basis of the wireless phone business: "Give me a sum of money each month and you can use my network. Don't use the amount of time I bought? Tough. I'll keep your money anyway." And they fell over each other - in their millions - to give the cellphone companies their money.

    "Oh and by the way, even though my network and my friends' networks stretch from here to Timbuctu, if you use your minutes outside of the county in which you bought the phone, I'm going to raid your bank account with charges that Shylock would envy." And still the millions flocked to fork over.

    "Oh, by the way, here's a nifty little thing that'll take crappy pictures as well as make phone calls. You can send the pictures over the phone but, of course, that'll cost you." Millions flocked, etc.

    And on, and on, and on. The latest episode had one company hold up a shiny toy and call, "See? Pretty! See? You can rub it with your fingers and it'll do amusing things! See? Oh, by the way, since you're all so used to us sucking money out of your bank accounts, this latest gizmo will cost a ridiculous amount and - just to show you how lost you are - we'll tie you to a provider of our choice in return for the privilege of giving us a ridiculous amount of money for one of these. But look! (Waving new toy.) Pretty! See?" And millions flocked.

  13. vincent himpe
    Jobs Horns

    get a HTC Touch or a samsung blackjack

    advantages

    - no lock ins with contracts

    - wide open to install whatever you want. load your favorite mediaplayer , gps navigation ... whatever

    i have a Samsung Blackjack. I installed live search , opera mini , iSilo , tomtom navigator ( links to simple gps bluetooth module i bought for 50$ on sale... ) . got a motorola 607 stereo bluetooth headset.. installed google maps , google mail, msnbc mobile and whatever other software you can get for windows mobile. there is tons of software out there. lots of it free.

    And the blackjack is 3G...

    too bad i can't click two icons. for once uncle bill would get a halo.

  14. Adam
    Stop

    Liberté, fraternité, egalité et... iPhonité?

    I tried to buy the latest tiny Nokia for pay-as-you-go back in 1999. "That will cost you £800 to buy the phone outright, sir" said the salesman. Yup, eight hundred pounds for a handset!

    So, this is nothing new: network-connected phones are subsidised. The actual hardware may be relatively cheap to buy now, but it used to cost comparatively more. It's just that the iPhone business model relies on people paying for lots of (2G) data and buying lots of things. Hell, if people are prepared to do that, let them.

    I didn't realise La Republique was based on "Liberté, fraternité, egalité et iPhonité"... why do some regard it as a legal right to own an iPhone, rather than just another brand that you can buy if you want.

  15. Steve
    Thumb Up

    Clarification

    A little trawling around French consumer websites turned up the info that phone operators are not allowed to refuse to unlock your phone, but if you are still within the first 6 months of a contract they can charge you for the unlock code. I have no idea if there is a limit to such a charge. After the 6 months they must give you the code, free, on demand. Most have 12-month minimum contracts anyway, so the unlock charge could conceivably be the remainder of your 12-month subscription.

    Of course IANAL and YMMV

  16. MJ
    Stop

    Lock the interface to French

    If Apple would just limit the unlocked French iPhones to a 'French language only' interface then no one in the UK would want to buy an unlocked import... :)

  17. James Brash
    Paris Hilton

    Firmware

    Isn't it possible that you could take the firmware off these unlocked iphones and put it onto a locked one... thus unlocking it?

  18. Alex King
    Coat

    @ matt carey

    You're right, there is no comparison. It would be like comparing Apples with Oranges.

    Me+coat already through door.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Difference in network locking and software locking

    Maybe I've got this wrong (please correct me if so), but in the UK, mobile phones - generally - start off simfree, and it's the networks who buy their allocation, lets say from Nokia, with firmware locked to the network.

    Even when a network operator has an exclusive deal on a phone, it's only Country-wide - there's plenty of simfree / other network phones knocking about elsewhere in the world.

    In this case, Apple are releasing a phone that only works on O2 - there isn't a simfree alternative like there normally is with other phone manufacturers. You can't stop Apple doing this, nor can you insist O2 provide an unlock code at any point - it's not their software to unlock.

    The point I think I'm trying to make is that - in the UK - networks are only obliged to unlock a phone for you when it is their request that locked the phone in the first place. Apple are not a network operator, and if they choose to release a phone that just so happens to only work on one UK network, who can do anything about it?

    From what I can see, Apple are under no obligation to support phones that O2 unlock for their customers in 18months time, because all O2 can do without an official response from Apple is provide the same JailBreak type method currently used by all those pesky hackers - and there is no legal obligation for Apple to do this.

    Soooo, assuming I'm not talking utter pap here, O2 may well be unlocking phones for customers in 18months, but they can quite possibly do it with a smile knowing you'll be bricking it the next time you run an update with official Apple software.

    I think I lost my flow about halfway through that...damn you perfectly chilled SanMig!

  20. sleepy

    Don't forget the required iTunes activation

    Sure you'll get a SIM unlocked iPhone for a higher price (€600 suggested). But that doesn't mean you won't have to sign up for 18 months minimum with Orange; or that various bundled network services (eg visual voicemail) will work on other networks, or that the phone will work at all until you've signed up with Orange and activated with iTunes and a credit card. Unlocking will just let you use other SIMs as well.

    Carriers extort from punters with monthly contracts for services that cost them next to nothing to provide. If you can deliver enough new subscribers from other networks to them, they can be persuaded to pay over a substantial part of the extorted money, which is what Apple have done by means of the exclusive deals. They are simply saying "we see your game, and we'll have some of that". Reputed 30% of Orange iPhone revenues.

    The unlimited data contract is central to iPhone. Every iPhone has one, so every owner will use mobile web without inhibition, kick starting mobile web the way Apple also kick started the 3.5" floppy, USB and wireless networking markets while extracting supplier concessions in exchange.

    This is only a transition phase which will end. You must evaluate Apple's actions looking forwards, not backwards. As the exclusive deals and revenue sharing diminish, the networks will lose pricing power, and Apple will migrate to being a service provider, fuelled by revenues from iTunes and Google delivered content.

  21. jai
    Jobs Halo

    re: I wonder how the iTunes Update...

    "... will affect legally unlocked French iPhones. Will they stop functioning?"

    it won't make a difference. the apple update broke the current unlocked iPhones because they had been unlocked by using a hack that exploited a hole the OS. the update plugged that hole and so broke the hack - hence bricking the phone.

    but these phones will be unlocked by apple's own code, so any updates to the software after they're released in france will acount for that

    however, there's nothign to say that if you buy a french orange iphone and then try to run it in the uk on vodaphone that the next apple update won't brick it also, but i think it's unlikely

  22. Tom Hawkins

    Flocking millions

    In a slightly less hysterical version, John, the millions looked at the deal on offer (make and receive phone calls, plus some other stuff, pretty much wherever you are) and decided that the convenience of that was actually worth the money. Other millions - well, more like thousands these days - looked at the deal and decided the cost-benefit wasn't good enough for them, and they haven't got mobile phones as (unless I'm missing something) no-one has been holding a gun to their heads to get one. This is called "consumer choice". Next!

  23. Scott Mckenzie
    Thumb Up

    I'd been wondering about this...

    ....now it's going to be interesting, i'd like to see if Expansys (the usual suspects when it comes to hard to get phones) get their hands on French unlocked iPhones and sell them in the UK legitamately - EU trading laws etc....

    Maybe i can have one sooner than i thought!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cost of phones, services

    Aside from 'cool' factor (which is always appealing to marketing folks since they're easily distracted by the bling) the reason the networks love the idea of the iPhone is that for the first time in a long while the end-user will be paying most of the cost of the phone, rather than getting it for something close to free. So if they can get us used to the idea of paying full nic for a phone their profit margins on network services will start to look a lot healthier.

    What still sticks with me was the discovery (about four years back) that by far the most profitable service for networks is the lowly text. It costs literally a fraction of a penny to deliver and until quite recently most people were paying 6p or more per text. Voice revenues are going to go down in the long run.

    The networks thought that data services would make up for that, but they've priced it so badly that the only people I know who use them aren't paying for their own contracts. If the iPhone also gets people using data services (even if they have to bundle it) then the networks will be doubly-pleased by that. Never mind that it was their own pricing model that was the source of the issue.

  25. Jon
    Alert

    Language

    I guess Orange will only supply (locked or unlocked) iPhones with a French language interface, though. There's no Setting on the phone to change display language (unlike just about all other real mobile phones).

  26. Christian Vandendorpe

    Easy solution

    The phone will probably be available only in French and since English punters don't speak French, that's the easiest way to limit the flow of Apple fan boys from crossing the channel :-)

  27. Jan Hargreaves
    Heart

    Chinese Clones

    Where are the chinese clones ?

    --

    They are here in south east asia mate for about 50 quid

  28. Bill Fresher

    As long as..

    As long as the predicitive dictionary isn't French so I don't have to text in French then I'm going to switch the language on my mobile and start training.

  29. John A Blackley

    @Tom Hawkins

    Tom,

    I don't recall saying anything to the contrary. Nor do I recall being 'hysterical'. I'll wait for you to make your point.

  30. Chad H.
    Alert

    @ Vincent Himpe

    As a user of a Windows Mobile Device myself... I dont know how you havent hit any of the bugs I see... Often the start button doesn't draw itself properly (Oh, the word "start" is there, but the windows icon isn't, and hitting start does naught), Using google maps means the screen doesn't turn off properly. The phone sometimes crashes when the alarm goes off, and some users have reported for no reason at all, calendar appointments stop actualy making a reminder appear, despite it being turned on to emit one.

    Stay away from these buggy devices, at all costs.

  31. Keith Doyle

    If Jobs had any cojones...

    He'd team up with Google to get the 700Ghz band unlocked and then produce a phone system that would bypass the major carriers entirely. That is the technology that will make me run, not walk, to buy it. In fact, I'd even buy that sort of technology from Microsoft (gasp!). Microsoft may be evil, but they look pretty good compared to the US telephone carriers...

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