Steve Jobs addresses new AT&T/iPhone controversy

June 28, 2007

Steve Jobs addresses new AT&T/iPhone controversyApple’s iPhone already has its first controversy. Why is AT&T the exclusive wireless carrier for the iPhone? Organized pressure has started from Working Assets — a wireless carrier which also funds progressive causes — and just one day before the iPhone’s launch, Apple CEO Steve Jobs found himself addressing the controversy.

Working Assets called for action through their online activism arm, Act For Change, which released a petition where consumers vowed to boycott the iPhone. “Apple’s new iPhone could be easily portable across wireless carriers,” the group complained on their mailing list.

An open market could mean cheaper service for consumers, they argued, and Apple “could use its influence to set an example…” Steve Jobs responded Thursday when questioned by Wall Street Journal columnist Walter Mossberg. One of the six questions Mossberg asked went straight to the controversy.

“Why does the iPhone only work with a single carrier, AT&T?” Jobs countered that AT&T had “been investing billions of dollars in the last couple of years to create a great network.” Using a GSM network will allow Apple to make the iPhone “a world phone,” according to Jobs — functional in “80% of the world.” But Mossberg had also asked Jobs if iPhone owners would ever be allowed to use other U.S. carriers — and Jobs conveniently ducked the question.

As it stands now, Act for Change sees iPhone users locked into a service contract with “a corporation whose practices seem to run counter to everything Apple stands for.” Their announcement included complaints directed specifically towards AT&T — including AT&T’s “warrantless wiretapping” controversy and their sharing of customer phone records with the National Security Agency. The group even cited the chairman’s political contributions of AT&T’s chairman, and called it “the same AT&T that is doing its very best to destroy net neutrality and create a ‘slow lane’ Internet for the rest of us.”

The next step is an online petition that they’re hoping will get Apple’s attention. “[W]e, like many other Americans, will NOT be purchasing an iPhone when they arrive. We choose NOT to use the iPhone because it is ‘locked’ for use only on the AT&T wireless networks.” “Having to sign a contract is one thing; stopping the iPhone from being unlocked is quite another.”

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