iPhones taken off shelves following Apple threat

NEXT Christmas for sure, but not this one – if you hanker for a “legit” iPhone, and have been checking out Sim Lim Square for it.  

That is because Apple, the maker of the cellphone popular in the United States and Europe, will only release it in Asia next year.  

According to retailers, Apple threatened in an e-mail to go after them for illegally “unlocking” parallel imported iPhones. The phones are unlocked by hacking into their software so that local SIM cards can be used.  

Sim Lim Square retailers and even some online local sellers have stopped selling the gadget.  

A retailer in Sim Lim Square said shops there, including his, received the warning from Apple about a month ago.  

It threatened legal action should they continue to sell “hacked” iPhones, which could make them liable for S$1,000 (RM2,300) per iPhone sold.  

A Straits Times check with 12 electronics shops and cellphone sellers in Sim Lim Square found none openly selling the gadget.  

But one retailer on the fourth floor said the sought-after phone could be “brought in” for interested buyers.  

Four online cellphone retailers which sold iPhones previously have removed the product from their websites.  

iPhones brought in from elsewhere are “locked”, that is, they work only with SIM cards from service providers Apple has partnered with. For example, iPhones in the United States work only with SIM cards from US telco AT&T.  

According to Han Wah Teng, associate director at Keystone Law Corp, hacking the iPhone’s software constitutes a breach of copyright law.  

Said Han: “What you pay for is only the licence to use the software. You still need permission from the software owner to reproduce or modify it.”  

So while selling parallel imported electronics is legal, hacking their software is not.  

Apple estimates that 250,000 iPhones have been unlocked worldwide. – The Straits Times / Asia News Network  

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