The 10 most annoying habits of technology companies
- — 29 May, 2008 14:30
Exclusivity Deals for Cell Phones
Major offenders: Apple, AT&T
The problem: When Apple unveiled the iPhone, geek hearts everywhere sang in joyous anticipation — only to be crushed by the news that AT&T would be the device's sole carrier for the foreseeable future. Not only did the handset limit users to AT&T's poky EDGE network, but Apple's decision also left Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon customers with noPhone.
Perhaps that wasn't so surprising. Apple exclusivity has existed for years in the form of the iTunes store, which sells songs, TV shows, movies, and the like for playback only on Apple-branded hardware.
When we asked Apple reps why the company elected to stick with a single carrier when it could easily land more customers by supporting others, they referred us via e-mail to a year-old press release touting AT&T's (then Cingular's) advanced network, jointly developed visual voice mail, yada yada yada. We received no reply, either, to our query on when Apple would allow iPhone buyers to use other carriers (without "jailbreaking" their phones).
The fix: Rewrite the rules — unlock your iPhone so that it will work with other GSM/GPRS/EDGE carriers. Adam Pash, coauthor of How to Do Everything with Your iPhone, recommends ZiPhone, an open-source utility that makes simple work of unlocking the handset. Once you've removed the AT&T shackles, you can pop in a SIM card from any GSM carrier. Of course, you could also thumb your nose at Apple and buy a phone from another manufacturer. Have you seen the latest BlackBerry units? Most of them are available from multiple carriers.