[governance] the Apple iPhone rort

Vittorio Bertola vb at bertola.eu
Thu Jul 12 07:45:31 EDT 2007

David Goldstein ha scritto:
> To have an iPhone one must agree to a contract with AT&T, previously
> described as one of the worst mobile phone service providers in the
> US. So if you want an iPhone, and you are already contracted to
> another company, you have to terminate that contract with the related
> fees that involves.

This is extremely common in the mobile phone market, especially in 
Europe - operators give you phones almost for free, as long as you tie 
yourself in either with a contract that you can't terminate for a 
certain number of years, or by accepting that the phone is sim-locked, 
i.e. doesn't work with other operators. There have also been several 
cases of models that were specific to single operators, just like the 
iPhone. Then, of course, there is a blossoming black market of repair 
shops that "free" your phone, with consequent legal battles.

 From one point of view, it's just a bargain between consumers and 
operators - the (wholesale) price of your phone is covered by the 
operator as a marketing cost to acquire you as customer. What I don't 
understand, however, is why Apple decided to go this way - the answer is 
"a lot of money from AT&T", I guess, but still it's like shooting 
themselves in the foot by losing a good amount of possible customers 
right when they have to enter the market - unless they already know that 
the phone is going to be hacked quickly, or won't make it particularly 

In any case, the real point is about noticing how different traditional 
telco networks are from the Internet - they are all about centralized 
control and "herding customers". We should pose extreme care in ensuring 
that the network remains neutral, otherwise we will start to have Apple 
laptops that only work with certain ISPs or show certain websites. So, 
getting this kind of principles well recognized and well formalized is 
IMHO a key task for the mid term... (yes, this also explains my interest 
in the "Internet bill of rights" idea).
vb.                   Vittorio Bertola - vb [a] bertola.eu   <--------
-------->  finally with a new website at http://bertola.eu/  <--------
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