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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22 Responses to “Steve Jobs addresses new AT&T/iPhone controversy”

  1. Ken:

    What in Apples history was nonexclusive? Hardware? Nope. OS? Nope. Itunes? Nope. Jobs is probably pissed he doesn’t have a Inetwork and needs AT&T. It’s pretty obvious exclusivity has been a successful formula. Jobs has never had to deal with a company like AT&T, at least where it is so crucial to the product performance. I think he overreached on this one.

  2. ron:

    at&t sucks and apple is “locked in” for 5 years. normal customers arent screwed for that long. And at&t will make far more money from the iphone than apple will. good job.

  3. Bill:

    Oh Please! Act for Change are a bunch of idiots – right along with the ACLU, PETA and Greenpeace. They all have good causes, but rather than advance their cause through some ‘normal’ avenue, they jump on the bandwagon of a news story to get attention. Then, they look like a bunch of idiots because the iPhone has NOTHING to do with NSA wiretaps. So now, my first opinion of Act for Change is negative – because they are too stupid to get their own PR…

  4. donviti:

    Damn, great catch.

    You know people forget (myself included) that AT&T is part of the warrantless wiretapping thing.

    let alone the lock in thing.

    thanksf or the link!

  5. Tom Karches:

    All mobile phone vendors do this (lock phone to vendor and customer to contract) and have been doing this for as long as I can remember. Why is the whining staring now? Get a life.

  6. Don Barry:

    Working Assets, thy name is hypocrisy itself. They have never been a “carrier” but merely a remarketer. And back in the 90s, despite their claimed progressive ties, they did not remarket a unionized company, but rather Sprint, at that time the most predatory of the big three as regards its own workforce. Donating some fraction of a percent of their revenue hardly does anything to ameliorate the fact that the vast majority of their income has passed on unchanged to unprogressive corporations.

    Their primary cry here is that they aren’t part of the network and therefore the profit stream.

    They remarket their underlying providers at a substantial markup. The percent of that markup going to “progressive causes” is quite small compared to the markup itself. Can you say Greenwashing? It’s been very remunerative to the executives at Working Assets. Customers would do far better at supporting progressive causes by using an underlying carrier directly, without the unnecessary remarketing overhead, that treats their workers well (or in today’s market, at least better than their competitors) and earmark some fraction of that to progressive causes directly.

    Don Barry,
    Ithaca, New York

  7. Some Guy:

    Socialism is not a “progressive cause”.

    I’m pretty sick of this greenpeace-style publicity whoring. Apple has no obligation at all to jump through whatever hoops the pinko of the week holds up.

  8. Ben Schiendelman:

    So, I used to be a Working Assets Wireless customer, and I switched to T-Mobile because WA used Sprint, a company I dislike more than T-Mobile, and also because the difference in bill for equivalent service from the two was larger than the amount WA was donating – freeing up that money for me to use for progressive causes myself. T-Mobile gave me a phone and unlocked it for me.

    However, Working Assets’ point is not invalidated by their own actions – it stands on its own. I would likely get an iPhone if I could a) use it with my existing carrier, and b) switch carriers. I believe that this limitation of choice is bad for consumers and bad for AT&T and Apple in the long run, and I won’t be party to it.

    I want to repeat: The point WA is making about Apple and AT&T is completely valid. It wouldn’t matter if this was a mass murderer on death row making this point, that has no bearing on its validity, and arguments that it does are fallacious.

  9. Ben Schiendelman:

    Some Guy:

    Consumer choice is capitalist.

  10. Oh Please!:

    Sorry this is pathetic. ATT are not the only wireless carrier phone to lock phones, all providers do it.
    Verizon take great phones and disable the features that compete with chargeable features.
    Hardware lockin is standard in the cellphone world, just live with it and quit whining.
    All the providers suck. They just suck in different ways.

  11. Kate Hopkins:

    Consumers don’t need to whine about it. There are ways to get around locked phones – if you don’t buy into the carrier’s deals in exchange for bullying you into endless contracts. Just purchase an unlocked phone which can be used on any compatible carrier. More people should take advantage of this option.

  12. K:

    T-Mobile does the exact same thing with the Sidekick, and no one seems to give a shit. I agree that the whole notion of MCCMNC lock is a load of anticonsumer bullshit, but suddenly jumping up and attacking only CNG/ATT for doing it is likewise bullshit.

  13. Charles Miller:

    Apple didn’t trust the telcos not to screw up their product, so they wanted to control as much of the phone experience as they could, right down to the rate plans and activation.

    To do that they pretty much had to tie themselves to one provider, and AT&T were it. End of controversy as far as I can tell.

  14. Jeff at www.thenewsroom.com:

    Anybody thinking about life after Steve? http://thenewsroom.com/details/453236?c_id=wom-bc-js

  15. Mark:

    My wireless carrier? Qwest. They stood up against U.S. Government demands for access to customer call records. Can you be baited, to give your money to AT&T, which holds your rights in such low regard? iPhone users say, “Yes.” The are lemmings and, some day, when they’ve got RFID chips shoved under their skin, they’ll wonder where things ran off the track. We let ‘em run off and we did it right now.

  16. Carrie:

    Don’t buy the iphone then. If people don’t buy it, the scheme fails. Mac people are pissed because they want Apple products and those who don’t want to go to At&T feel they’re being denied and inconvenienced. If they abandon the brand loyalty Apple has worked so hard to build in them over this, Apple will make a plan B soon enough.

  17. free line rental:

    Apple should provide some better solutions for this kind of issues

  18. Seth:

    How I spend my money is my business, yes most companies lock the phones, but most manufacturers provide unlocks after a certain period of time too, apple should allow consumers the right to unlock after a certain amount of time… Until that day I will be pwned… Forget AT&T!!

  19. Peggy:

    Even though I love the features of the IPhone, I refuse to put my money into a single conglomerate. Reviews of AT&T coverage for the 3G network did not prove favorable, and the cost is higher than T-Mobile, in fact, I just talked to a man who heads a computer firm outside of Washington, and he showed me his Blackberry with 3G and tethering, and is able to manage a whole office from his phone in conjunction with T-Mobile for less money than AT&T charges. I have a high-end MacBook Pro that was given to me, yet I am NOT spending any money on this laptop because EVERYTHING for a Mac costs more and the programs are inferior, usually, to the downloads available to Windows users.

  20. Curt in Madison:

    Funny, 80% of the world is covered by AT&T but I can’t get service in the building that I work at in Madison, WI. I have to stand by a window to enjoy cell phone service (which fails often) that I pay $115 a month for. Great work, AT&T.

  21. Microsoft Windows 7:

    I will right away grab your rss as I can not in finding your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please permit me realize so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  22. Apple Deals:

    I think Android are going to be the dominant platform in a few years, Im not sure how / whether apple can keep getting both product and os right reliably. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.

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