Friday, August 24, 2007

David Tweaks Goliath

No, David didn't kill Goliath this time, but that heavily-armored, overgrown, dumb, slow-moving giant is really gonna be pissed.

A New Jersey teenager spent his last summer before college figuring out how to uncouple an i-phone from AT&T. It took extensive knowledge of both software and hardware, a soldering gun, and gallons upon gallons of energy drinks, but he got the job done (story here).

George Hotz doesn't plan to seek a patent or go into business to market the unlocked i-phone. He'll leave that to others. He published a step-by-step "how I did it" series of posts on his blog.

"I believe information should be free," Hotz says, adding that his obsession with unlocking the i-phone wasn't motivated by money, but because of his resentment of AT&T's monopoly on the device. He wanted to be able to incorporate his i-phone into his family's T-Mobile plan.

Right now, "T-Mobile is the only major U.S. carrier apart from AT&T that is compatible with the iPhone's cellular technology," the AP story on Hotz's accomplishment reports, "but smaller carriers also use the technology, known as GSM. In Europe and Asia, GSM is the dominant network technology."

So even though George Hotz won't turn his idea into a business, we can expect a mushrooming cottage industry based on his idea to materialize overnight. Droves of European and Asian i-phone unlocking businesses should spring up in the next few weeks.

And George will make a little college money from his accomplishment. According to his blog, he's planning to sell his unlocked i-phone, the one that is now an internationally significant prototype, on E-Bay.

I love it when one of our giant corporation's plans for monopolizing markets, locking out all competition, and ruling the world, the skies, the oceans, and outer space, is sabotaged by one of us. And by "us," I mean one of those insignificant and inconsequential creatures known as a human being.

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