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iPhone Business Model Hits a Snag in France 332

Posted by Zonk
from the open-is-as-open-does dept.
Serhei writes "It seems like the iPhone might not be released in France by this holiday season, since French requires by law that all cell phones sold there must be obtainable in an unlocked version. Apple will not be able to do so, since it has launched with a 5-year exclusivity agreement with AT&T. That deal will probably require exclusivity worldwide to avoid grey-market imports. (In return for this agreement Apple receives a large share of AT&T's monthly revenues from iPhone subscribers.) If the iPhone falls through in France, the country can join Belgium and a potentially long list of other countries with unlocking laws, whose Apple fans will have to make do with other, less Apple-y phones. Note that there is currently no mention of the iPhone on the Apple France page."
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iPhone Business Model Hits a Snag in France

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  • Yay (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2007 @05:38PM (#20882679)
    Good for France.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2007 @05:39PM (#20882695)
    Look at the German page, you'll see that T-Mobile is the exclusive carrier there.
  • The iPhone's edge (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GeneralSunTzu (1163223) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @06:44PM (#20883169)
    I do believe the iPhone's edge is exclusively the UI, which Apple masters like no other computer manufacturer.
    Good ol'e Steve is convinced, however, that only a tied-up customer can be conveniently milked, and therefore will also bundle it with an exclusive operator contract.
    European customers were already fed up with the local operators, who were milking them to death via international roaming, before being forced to lower the price by an EU regulation (think of the FCC ever doing something like that...) not to go for even more getting handcuffed...
    Will I buy the iPhone when it comes to Belgium? Certainly not.
    Will I miss something? Ditto.
    What I am actually looking for right now is an open source cellphone with 4G technology, so that I may write my own stuff, not a locked tin can which will burn like a interocitor (This Island Earth, remember?)...
    And if it burns when I open it, then I want a free saucer ride, not a mail-in rebate...
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Saturday October 06, 2007 @10:39PM (#20884551) Journal
    In the "famous" 74 days that sold a million iPhones, there were 3.5 million Windows Mobile phones sold

    Wow. So, from a standing start, by your figures, selling only in one country, Apple grabbed between a quarter and a third of the whole smart phone market, from a competitor who's had their product out there for several years?

    -jcr

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2007 @11:02PM (#20884659)
    Actually, all Apple products say "Designed in California" with no explicit mention of the USA. (Believe it or not, some people don't understand that California is part of the US). This is deliberate, as "Made in the USA" has been bad for business since Bush has been president. I don't mean that as a flame, but it's true. For example, ask anyone in Europe if they've heard of AOL. Then ask them what the "A" stands for.

    Concerning France, yes, there are some French people who disdain anything American, but they are far outnumbered by their compatriots who adore things American.
  • Re:errors in summary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @11:33PM (#20884801)

    That's actually a very good idea for them. The big argument right now is that Apple can't release an unlocked phone in another market due to grey market import of unlocked phones. Soooo, release it locked by another carrier in a new market.

    I don't see how this solves the problem brought up by this article. Apple can't just sell the phone locked to another provider, French law says it has to be available with NO provider as well, even if they do a partnership. If that happens a load of those unlocked Apple iPhones will be shipped back to the U.S. and sold at a premium to everyone else, since the French iPhone will be new, it will be at firmware 1.1.1 already.

    One of the issues here is Apple has already stated that the iPhone is not subsidized by AT&T. This sets an actual value on the product. Which means that when they release the unlocked one in France they can't just jack up the price to astronomical amounts to keep people from buying it unlocked with the excuse that "well, it's subsided under the agreements" cause they've already said its not.

    I wonder sometimes if Apple left a few bugs in the iPhone (or features out of it) on purpose so it could have an excuse to ship a patched firmware. Then they just wait for people to hack the phone, Apple studies how they hacked it, make a patch that breaks it, and add a few fixes for the bugs they left in. Ta-Da! Now they have a unlock breaker being released as a bug fixer. As long as the bugs they leave in/features they leave out are important enough to get people to download and install it, they will be successful.
  • Re:Good news! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by GregPK (991973) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @12:41AM (#20885161)
    They may have been trying to protect themselves. Which by the old knee jerk reaction, sounds good but practices badly when you just go by feel rather than by the numbers.

    Ultimately, it's not Apple that forced themselves out of the market. Its the EU that forced good products out of the market. Because they limited the ability of business to make money on a product; They limited what products consumers can or can't buy. Companies will generally only make products from which they can achieve a profit from. Thus, the EU forced new and good products away from thier own market and/or drove up the price of any products that do make it to market. The only thing that consumers need to be protected against is deceptive sales practices(lying to customer on the package or otherwise, not accepting returns, etc.), safety issues(lead paint), and forced takeovers(buying all the local competition and making only a few products availible).

    This has rather large implications on the local economy too. This means that there is also less money for local businesses to hire more people. In France's case it is a severe problem with thier anti business laws.

    Oddly enough, most consumers here in the states don't really mind locking into contracts. It's not like they aren't getting anything in return. We still have a good phone selection and good prices for the minutes to dollar conversion. You can get unlimited minutes, text, with no long distance for 40 a month and pay nothing but the tax for a good phone. Good luck getting anywhere near that in the EU.
  • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Sunday October 07, 2007 @04:20AM (#20886141) Homepage
    No it won't.. German consumer law is one of the strongest in the EU. You think it'll stay locked for long?

    And a product sold in one country of the EU is available in every country of the EU (common market rules) so everyone will be able to buy one.
  • amen! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Weezul (52464) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:32AM (#20886423)
    You know the iPhone will remain only EDGE noy 3G in Europe. Outdated is putting it mildly.

    It'll be sweet if he EU has Nokia's clone first. Nokia's clone might not have quite as slick a user interface. But I'll bet al the Nokia lovers prefer it. And there's no doubt it'll have way way more features.

  • by mattcasters (67972) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:43AM (#20886461) Homepage
    Oh please!

    The anti-French sentiments in the US that appeared after France refused to join the war on terror in Irak was one big mistake. The French president said at the time "We just want to prevent a friend from making a big mistake".

    Now that most people in the US came to the same conclusion as the French president (albeit a bit late) that Irak was one big mistake, this anti-French attitude can be reduced to nothing more than a troll from the US government. Too bad you fell for it.

    However, the same can be said from the people across the ocean. The governments from Belgium and France needed political support to resist the enormous pressure that G.W.Bush and his gang put on countries over here in Europe to have us join the war. So they threw oil on the fire to paint a very bad image of the Americans. Everything from under-cover CIA prisoner transports to hidden interrogation sites to arms shipments and EC phone tapping where used to discredit you guys.

    The one thing that bothers me is that ALL the news media, including and especially Slashdot, joined in on the mud-throwing and trolling fun without even the slightest hint of objectivity or nuance. Both across the ocean as in Europe.

    Don't you think it's about time it stopped right here? People in the US are not the worst because they elected a moron as a president. People in Europe are not anti-American because they didn't support the war in Irak. Being from Belgium and going to the US 4-5 times a year I know that much.

    Matt

  • Re:3G pundit folly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jesus_666 (702802) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @06:44AM (#20886687)
    WiFi is nice, if you're in a large city with many open APs and lax laws. Which means that in 90% of everywhere it's retty useless because you're either not in a city with a sufficiently large concentration of APs, the APs aren't open (note that pretty much all manufacturers have switched to using encryption as the default setting) or using someone else's AP without permission is illegal (e.g. in Germany you can be slapped with a number of charges, however they only really stick if the network had at least WEP). Not many cities offer municipal WiFi, so you're effectively limited to using the iPhone's WiFi capabilities in your (company's) own network. Where you usually have access to a desktop computer.

    I'm pretty sure there are places where having a phone with an 802.11 chipset is nice, but at least in Germany I'd expect UMTS connectivity to be much higher due to people encrypting their APs and more rural areas generally having no contiguous WiFi coverage even in towns. (Note that in Gerany "rural" begins at about twenty kilometers from the next large city.)

    Give me a WiFi standard with a range of a few kilometers and good data quality and I'll admit that WiFi is better than 3G for data services. But as it is, WiFi's comparatively abysmal range and the virtual absence of public hotspots only make it competitive under some specific circumstances, which are far from universal.

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