Bootlegged iPhones selling like hot cakes in Australia

Despite not being officially released yet, unlocked iPhones are hitting a hungry Australian market

Despite not being officially released yet, unlocked iPhones are hitting a hungry Australian market, making consumers happy and sellers even happier.

Australians keen to pickup the latest in hyped mobile technology are turning to eBay and connections overseas to buy and sell the in-demand iPhone, echoing a trend already seen in the US.

Michael Sidorenko, a platinum eBay Powerseller under the name 'kruto_au', says his motives for offering unlocked iPhones to Australian consumers is clear.

"Profit. You can buy them cheap in the US and sell them expensive in Australia," he says.

"I get them unlocked from the US, so no need to spend my time unlocking them."

He says many Australians have expressed interest and posted bids for his eBay item which claims to offer 'Brand new Apple 8GB iPhone, completely software unlocked'.

"[There has been] huge interest. I can't believe how many people want to buy the iPhone."

Sidorenko is one of more than thirty Australian eBay sellers offering unlocked iPhones bought overseas and readied for use in Australia.

With the current strength of the Australian dollar, the US price tag of $399 equates to around AUD$450. But that is not what they are selling for.

Many resellers are showing multiple iPhones in their product description photos, and with bids ranging as high as AUD$1000 a tidy sum is going into their back pockets instead of official Australian Apple vendors.

Dave Newman, a software developer with web-based applications specialist Sentia, says he had his iPhone shipped to him by a friend in the US, and unlocked it himself.

"Why wait?" he says.

"I can use it now and who knows when it will actually get released. Plus I'm sure the same thing would apply here when it does get released - they will lock it to Telstra probably and I'd have to unlock it again anyway!"

Newman says the unlocking process is a "fairly painful" experience. "You have to find a few programs on the Internet, unlock it plugged in through a USB. Then you need to have a wireless network to finish off the process. It doesn't always work first go.

"[It works with] Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. It just doesn't work with 3".

But he admits he isn't concerned by reports that iPhone updates may 'brick' unlocked phones, and is confident the online community will quickly catch up with any firmware updates Apple puts out.

Hackers have already posted techniques on how to rollback the 'bricking' process.

A spokesperson from Apple Australia said neither a date nor information was available regarding the iPhone's release in Australia, and did not respond to requests for Apple's view on Australian eBay sellers offering iPhones.

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Andrew Hendry

Computerworld
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