My 8/01/10 Missoulian column
The past month has been full of interesting developments concerning the iPhone. Apple’s iPhone is officially coming to Montana on not one but two different networks, and the older but illegal method of getting an iPhone to work in Montana is now allowed.
AT&T has finalized its buyout of some parts of Alltel’s wireless network in Montana from Verizon Wireless, and is in the process of converting those new network areas to the type that the iPhone uses (GSM). Alltel subscribers will then need to switch handsets, and the iPhone is an option. Read AT&T’s news release at http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=18043&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=30889&mapcode=financial
Also, the rumor that Verizon will be selling the iPhone has been circulating for months, and though the announcement isn’t completely official, it’s about as good as it gets. Bloomberg News reports that Verizon will offer the iPhone next January on its CDMA-based network. Read about it at markratledge.com/link/montanaiphone.
Analysts say that Verizon might sell 12 million iPhones and even steal up to a million customers from AT&T, because the AT&T contract required for the iPhone is restrictive and customers will opt-out early or not renew.
But here in Montana, the horse race may go to Verizon, because when it starts selling an iPhone as planned in January, it will be available before AT&T can finish converting all of its acquired networks in the state. Look for an official announcement from Verizon in the next few months and more than likely an advertising campaign in time for the Christmas season.
The other interesting iPhone development has to do with “jailbreaking.”
Currently, to use an iPhone in Montana you either need an AT&T billing contract in another state or you need to “jailbreak” an iPhone and use it on a local carrier.
“Jailbreaking” means altering the software to fool a cellular network into accepting the iPhone as one of its own phones (as well as swapping the phone’s SIM card) and to run software not officially sanctioned by Apple.
Soon, with the ability to get a “real” iPhone in Montana, that won’t be necessary. But what’s interesting is that jailbreaking the iPhone is now legal, thanks to an unlikely ally: The Library of Congress. More next week.
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