Just two weeks ago, we reported about iPhoneSIMfree's first verified software unlocking of the iPhone. If you recall, we subsequently raised concern about the legality of the entire affair. Well, it appears that iPhoneSIMfree must have shared some of this concern as well.
In a reversal from its original stance, iPhoneSIMfree has now announced that it will not unlock phones for end users directly, but it will work through "resellers" instead. As reported by Ars Technica, iPhoneSIMfree is now telling interested parties that it is a whole sale-only company.
The company now requires a minimum purchase of 50 licenses, with bulk pricing ranging from $36 (in lots of 50) to $25 per phone (in lots of 5000). Translation: you, too, can become a "reseller" for the true "entry-level" cost of $1,800.
The problem with this approach is that it's potentially asking users to become business partners with them in a potentially illegal business operation. As it is, cell phone unlocking remains a gray area in the United States, courtesy of the DMCA.
It is noted that the U.S. Register of Copyrights gave a DMCA exemption last year to cell phone owners who wanted to unlock a phone to work on another network. Unfortunately, those distributing the unlocking tools are not afforded such protection.
As the definition of a "reseller" does not necessitate making profits, even users banding together to acquire the licenses could potentially find themselves at the end of a legal investigation.
It is clear that iPhoneSIMfree wants to maximize its revenues quickly. Of additional caution here is that iPhoneSIMfree is careful to stress that its unlocking solution might not continue to work past future updates of the iPhone. According to an e-mail sent out by the company, "We CANNOT guarantee that this software will work after any future updates for the iPhone."