Apple’s ‘strings attached’ gift to employees criticised

28 Mar 2008

Apple is wrong to warn employees of disciplinary action if they do not follow the terms and conditions (T&Cs) attached to the free iPhones they have been offered, claimed CEO of Cubic Telecom and telco commentator, Pat Phelan.

In a post on his blog yesterday, Phelan said he had been contacted by several Apple employees worried about the implications of signing the T&Cs. However, they have been told they will not receive their iPhones unless they do so.

The T&Cs state that in no circumstances is the iPhone to be unlocked and that it must only be used on the O2 network.

While this is consistent with Apple stating that unlocked iPhones will have their warranty voided, the difference here is the note which an Apple employee told Phelan they received. The note said employees will face disciplinary action if the T&Cs are broken and, furthermore, that their iPhone can be tracked.

“It’s impossible. If someone unlocks their iPhone and sticks a Meteor SIM card in it for example, Meteor will not share that information with O2 because that is illegal. There is no mobile company in the country that can share your information with anybody else because that is in all their T&Cs,” said Phelan.

“This is scaremongering,” he stated.

Phelan said he has received over 15 calls from Apple employees saying they were reluctant to accept the iPhone because of the implications of losing it or perhaps giving it as a gift to friends or family who might then go on to unlock or hack the handset.

“One young girl was on the phone to me, worried, because she had promised to give the phone to her brother but was afraid that if he unlocked or sold it, she would suffer the consequences.”

Phelan said he has a feeling there will be several iPhones lying unused in desk drawers.

Apple had no comment to make on the matter.

While Phelan noted Apple will not be able to track whether an iPhone was unlocked in Ireland and used in any way other than the terms of contract with O2 prior to the relationship between the two companies being formally announced, it is clear many consumers were buying iPhones outside the Republic, unlocking them and using them on the phone network of their choice.

A source not associated with Apple, O2 or Vodafone and who preferred not to be named, claims that before the iPhone officially came to Ireland there were several thousand of the devices in operation on the Vodafone network, and to a lesser extent on the Meteor and O2 networks.

By Marie Boran