Apple is releasing an unlocked version of the iPhone that will allow users to run it on various cellular networks. But you have to live in France to get it.
Under a just-announced deal, the European mobile carrier Orange will be the exclusive source for the iPhone in the French market. The unlocked phone is concession to a French law that forbids companies to bundle a mobile phone to a specific mobile operator.
According to a report in the International Herald Tribune, Orange will offer both a locked version and an unlocked version for a higher, but undisclosed price. Both are expected to be unveiled in November.
Apple recently signed exclusive deals, similar to the one with US-based AT&T, with O2 in the UK, the wireless division of Spain’s Telefonica, and with Germany’s T-Mobile, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom.
According to the Tribune report, Orange wouldn’t say whether it had agreed to give Apple a share of the service revenues generated by iPhone users. This is one of the most striking features of Apple’s move into the mobile phone market. The Tribune quoted a Nortel executive on how revolutionary this change is: “For operators, having a handset maker suddenly demand a slice of their revenues is like being asked to change your religion,” said Gerry Collins, the director of strategic marketing at Nortel Networks. "This is really a significant change for the industry.”
From the outset, Apple’s decision has come under concerted attack by hackers trying to unlock the phone’s SIM card, thereby allowing the phone to run on a network other than AT&T. Apple has made a just-as-concerted counter-attack to undo those hacks.