Unlocked iPhones pulled off Singapore shelves after Apple legal threat

According to Singapore retailers, Apple theatened to take leagl action against them for selling illegally “unlocked” iPhones,” Leung Wai-Leng reports for The Straits Times. “The phones are unlocked by hacking into their software so that local SIM cards can be used.”

“Sim Lim Square retailers and even some online local sellers have stopped selling the gadget,” Wai-Leng reports.

“A retailer in Sim Lim Square said shops there, including his, received a warning e-mail from Apple about a month ago,” Wai-Leng reports. “It threatened legal action should they continue to sell ‘hacked’ iPhones, which could make them liable for $1,000 per iPhone sold.”

“A Straits Times check with 12 electronics shops and cellphone sellers in Sim Lim Square found none openly selling the gadget,” Wai-Leng reports. “But one retailer on the fourth floor said the sought-after phone could be ‘brought in’ for interested buyers.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Mike in Helsinki” for the heads up.]

22 Comments

  1. @MacGuy

    You’re the one being short-sighted because you think all Apple is after is the dollars per sale. Because Apple is confident that no one is going to have a super-responsive multi-touch interface until at least 2009 and maybe even later, Apple is going to take advantage of iPhone’s popularity to wring concessions out of its carrier partners in exchange for helping those carriers acquire new subscribers. It’s these concessions that Apple is after; concessions that change the carrier industry. Things like activation, service, branding, unlimited data at reasonable prices, and eventually, VoIP, iChat and iTunes use, and full open Web access. (Google is also after open Web access as well). At some point, I believe Apple will trade its share of revenue for iChat and iTunes use on its carrier partner networks – possibly not until the carriers have the capacity to allow it. That would again leave those who have unlocked and using iPhone on another carrier network at a disadvantage, and create another win-win for Apple and its carrier partner.

    Apple (and Google) are confident that full access to the mobile Web is around the corner, and that that is what people really want. Apple is sure iPhone is the best pocketable device for that. Once its carrier partner starts stealing subscribers from other carriers for exactly this purpose, the competing carriers will have to change (except they won’t get iPhone until later). So 4.5 years from now, it’ll change and every carrier will have iPhone, and carrier competition will revert back to who has the best network, not for phone calls, but for Web access (including VoIP calls).

    You need to think bigger. Apple is already deferring revenue; it’s clear they don’t find it necessary to add iPhone sales and plan revenue to their bottom line today.

  2. “The bit in the software licence agreement which says you’re not allowed to modify the software, and certainly not sell it modified.”

    And that makes selling illegal how? I’m sorry, but once I buy something, I own it. I can do anything I please with it. If I break any kind of license agreement or other policy, I lose the warranty. If I modify a product, I certainly can’t expect Apple to support it. But there’s nothing stating that I break the law if I modify the code on a product I bought (unless of course my modifications allow me to otherwise break the law- say, listen in on other people’s phone calls or something).

    Or do you think that people are “licensing” their iPhones?

    Then’s there’s always the first sale rule. At least in the US, you can always legally sell something you’ve purchased. If I buy an iPhone, I can certainly sell it for a profit if some one is willing to buy it, regardless of what any software license says.

  3. @ dave

    While reselling the iPhone in its locked state doesn’t violate Singapore laws, hacking the software to unlock it violates copyright laws.

    Keystone Law Corp associate director Han Wah Teng commented “What you pay for is only the licence to use the software. You still need permission from the software owner to reproduce or modify it.”

  4. Seems to me that once I buy something, it’s mine to do what I want with it. Apple’s control ends at the cash register (I know they don’t have actual cash registers anymore, and won’t actually take cash. That’s another discussion. I’m talking about the figurative cash register). Now Apple can refuse to provide future services that were bundled with the device, like warranty repair, if I violate the terms of the sale and I’m good with that. But if I drive a truck over it (or alter the software) and can find a willing buyer, Apple is not part of the equation.

    But I don’t think that is what Apple is concerned about. I’d bet they’re concerned about the couple of pallet loads that vanish off of the loading dock at the factory or out of the truck on the way to the airport, or maybe the factory forgetting to shut off the production line after they completed the number of iphone’s ordered by Apple. Or the emergence of a very functional knock off. Grey market electronics are not a new thing, even in the US. I think Apple is really trying to protect the consumer experience of their products by interrupting the flow of Apple hardware through unauthorized resellers.

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