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Singapore carriers working on iPhone 4S mod to remove cameras for servicemen

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Wireless operators in Singapore are preparing to launch a modified iPhone 4S device with its cameras removed in an effort to market the device to military personnel who are not allowed to bring camera-equipped smartphones to army camps.

Rumors have swirled for some time that carriers in Singapore, which requires 24 months of military service from male citizens between the ages of 18 and 21, would release an iPhone model that stripped the handset of both its cameras. M1, one of Singapore's three major wireless operators, confirmed work on a "Non Camera" iPhone 4S last week when it temporarily posted product pages for the modified device, as noted by CNet Asia (via The Verge).

According to M1's product listing, the device would sell for S$49 ($38) more than its camera-equipped counterpart. Depending on the monthly plan chosen with a two-year contract, the no-camera iPhone 4S was listed as selling for between S$49 and S$679.

The iPhone 4S first arrived in Singapore last October as part of Apple's fastest international rollout of its handset.

After the listings were pulled, a spokesman for M1 responded to press inquiries by saying that the link had been removed while the company made "some adjustments to this service.'"




A source for CNet Asia claimed last fall that Singapore's Ministry of Defence was talking to one of the country's carriers to "offer a camera removal service for smartphones," though it's not clear whether M1 was the carrier in question. However, negotiations for the service reportedly broke down because the carriers were unwilling to provide a one-year warranty to replace the manufacturer's warranty that would be voided during the camera removal.

After a year-long review of the matter, the Ministry recently ruled that servicemen can use smartphones on base, provided they have a certificates proving that a local carrier modified the device to remove its cameras.

JakartaGlobe recently reported that all three telcos in Singapore will soon sell the modified iPhone 4S. The other two carriers, Singtel and Starhub, did say they were in talks with the Ministry of Defence to offer camera-less smartphones, but declined to say whether they would release a modified iPhone.

Though camera-less iPhone sales to military personnel would only represent a small portion of Apple's worldwide figures, the move could help the company further embed itself within the market by allowing young servicemen to either gain early exposure to the device or stay loyal to the brand. Some reports claim Apple's iPhone has reached more than 50 percent market share in Singapore, which has a population of roughly 5 million.

A survey of Asian consumers released last November showed that 38 percent of respondents indicated plans to purchase an iPhone and identified the region as Apple's biggest worldwide opportunity for the handset.

Apple is expected to report blowout iPhone sales next Tuesday when it announces its results for the December quarter. Wall Street consensus for the company stands at an estimated 29.74 million units during the period.
post #2 of 22
Makes sense, Japan has been selling selected japanese branded models without a camera also since 2006 I can remember, perhaps even longer. Several company's prohibit you to bring a mobile phone into certain areas to keep company data/r&d under wraps. When you enter some embassies around Tokyo require you to place your phone and any digital camera equipment into a locker.

I can see this as a big thing for many organizations.
post #3 of 22
Typed with as much sarcasm as possible:

Yeah that's good, Singapore has to keep all of its huge military secrets under wraps, god forbid one of Singapore's military secrets should slip out...
post #4 of 22
Apple shd release a iPhone without the camera too.. I am sure there is a market for that & reduce the cost of the handset, Apple passing it on the benefit of reduced cost to teh customer is a different matter.
post #5 of 22
It was the AT&T Tilt, a WM phone.

Though in that model the camera was very easy to remove, w/o any impact upon product warranty.

In order to remove the cameras from an iPhone, you have to take the internals apart, voiding the warranty. Not to mention that you might harm the phone while doing so (eg static electricity, breaing a connector...) - even if done in a professional lab.

But if you work in a company that does not allow cameras, and you want an iPhone, there's no other alternative.
post #6 of 22
Spent a week in Singapore a couple of months ago. Took mass transit a lot--subways, busses. TONS of iPhones. Seemed the vast majority of smart phones were iPhones. Vast majority of phones were smart phones. Once spotted 5 people standing shoulder to shoulder on a crowded subway car -- all with iPhones.
post #7 of 22
Pah! It is not like they have to stay in the base for a indefinite period (of the day). Just leave it at home. The world will still operate w/o your phone. Not only they are more expensive (I know, mere dollars), the warranty is revoked too. Plus, it is like your iPhone is getting its balls removed!
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splash-reverse View Post

Pah! It is not like they have to stay in the base for a indefinite period (of the day). Just leave it at home. The world will still operate w/o your phone. Not only they are more expensive (I know, mere dollars), the warranty is revoked too. Plus, it is like your iPhone is getting its balls removed!

If the Singaporean armed forces are like the US, many of those servicemen may live on base. Also, Singapore does have a navy, and sailors may like taking a phone with them...

Quote:
Originally Posted by l008com View Post

Typed with as much sarcasm as possible:

Yeah that's good, Singapore has to keep all of its huge military secrets under wraps, god forbid one of Singapore's military secrets should slip out...

I'm curious, why the sarcasm? Singapore does have one of the most advanced militaries in the region, and includes F-15 and F-16s, domestically produced stealth ships, UAVs, etc... They are a small but wealthy country (higher per capita GDP than the US, for instance) and have a strong, technology-oriented military with a healthy budget.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by afrodri View Post

If the Singaporean armed forces are like the US, many of those servicemen may live on base. Also, Singapore does have a navy, and sailors may like taking a phone with them...

I'm curious, why the sarcasm? Singapore does have one of the most advanced militaries in the region, and includes F-15 and F-16s, domestically produced stealth ships, UAVs, etc... They are a small but wealthy country (higher per capita GDP than the US, for instance) and have a strong, technology-oriented military with a healthy budget.

Yeah, ignore those posters. While Singapore is a small country (hence even more important to have defence plans)... It is an important US/ AUNZ/ NATO(?) strategic ally. They take their military seriously, including compulsory conscription for 2 years or so for all high school leavers. There are also a lot of reservists.

I'm not up to date on their defense spending, but Singapore is known to be a perfectionist (sometimes too much) country. Even in the 80s and 90s they regularly had "civil defense" practices and the underground train system is meant to be bomb shelters as well.

Singapore is also the only non-Muslim, developed-status country with signficant protestant Christian populations, within, say, a 1500-mile radius.

The only fly in the ointment is the one-party system and known breaches of human rights and supression of dissent.

Also, don't forget the Straits of Malacca is a very strategic waterway.

The US Energy Information Administration mentions:
\t
"In 2011, total world oil production amounted to approximately 88 million barrels per day (bbl/d), and over one-half was moved by tankers on fixed maritime routes. By volume of oil transit, the Strait of Hormuz leading out of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans are two of the world’s most strategic chokepoints.

The Strait of Malacca, linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans is the shortest sea route between the Middle East and growing Asian markets. Oil shipments through the Strait of Malacca supply China and Indonesia, two of the world's fastest growing economies. It is the key chokepoint in Asia with an estimated 13.6 million bbl/d flow in 2009, down slightly from its peak of 14 million bbl/d in 2007.

At its narrowest point in the Phillips Channel of the Singapore Strait, Malacca is only 1.7 miles wide creating a natural bottleneck, as well as potential for collisions, grounding, or oil spills. According to the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre, piracy, including attempted theft and hijackings, is a constant threat to tankers in the Strait of Malacca, although the number of attacks has dropped due to the increased patrols by the littoral states authorities since July 2005.

Over 60,000 vessels transit the Strait of Malacca per year. If the strait were blocked, nearly half of the world's fleet would be required to reroute around the Indonesian archipelago through Lombok Strait, located between the islands of Bali and Lombok, or the Sunda Strait, located between Java and Sumatra. "

http://www.eia.gov/countries/regions....cfm?fips=WOTC

~13 million barrels per day go through the Straits of Malacca. Out of ~88 million barrels per day *produced*, that's ~15% of the worlds oil.

All the sabre-rattling about Iran and their Straits of Hormuz? Significant at 17 million barrels per day from the Middle East, but as you can see the Straits of Malacca is not that far behind.

Again, Singapore is the only reliable US, AUNZ and Western ally with jurisdiction (however small) over the Straits of Malacca and controls a key segment of it. Malaysia and Indonesia are far from any sort of reliability for US interests, particularly with significant anti-Israeli sentiment in both countries.

If Singapore went bye-bye tomorrow and the Straits of Malacca was blockaded by an invading force, China, Malaysia (unlikely, due to minority ethnic-Chinese Malaysian population) or Indonesia (possible with Malaysian co-operation), there'd pretty much be mass panic around the world, oil and goods prices skyrocketing and a rapid stretching of US miltary resources there and in the Middle East.

Theoretically, if North Korea had nukes, they need not attack China or Japan. They could actually nuke Singapore directly and this would cause massive destabilization in the region and cause a big blow to oil and goods transport through the Straits of Malacca. China also needs all that oil to produce goods the Western world now depends to drive consumer retail of massive amounts of cheap, China-made products.

For example, North Korea would nuke Japan and Singapore, hence by default keeping China as a part-ally. Then the US would have to intervene strongly in North Korea, possibly nuking it, and that would make China mighty tense. China itself would be caught in the middle because its supply of oil and hence exports will be drastically cut. So it might attack North Korea and North Korea might retaliate against China or other countries.

An unlikely and horrible, horrible, scenario, but I'm sure modelled by all East Asian defense specialists. East Asia is actually a fragile place from a geopolitical point of view, and with the rise of China, gaining in significance.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfunknkeng View Post

Spent a week in Singapore a couple of months ago. Took mass transit a lot--subways, busses. TONS of iPhones. Seemed the vast majority of smart phones were iPhones. Vast majority of phones were smart phones. Once spotted 5 people standing shoulder to shoulder on a crowded subway car -- all with iPhones.

Singapore is the base for Apple South Asia ~ which means they cover all of South East Asia and India as well. All South East Asia online Apple Store purchases go through Singapore operations.

Given the growth of Apple in South East Asia, especially as a status symbol, Apple's presence in Singapore is significant.

There are several downsides to Singaporean life but their education is in English, with Mandarin as a second language (almost virtually a common first language), and the government heavily invests in infrastructure, technology, research and so on. Compare them with next-door neighbour Malaysia, and the gap is wide despite lots of development in various West and East Malaysian regions. Tons of mainland Chinese are flocking to Singapore as well due to the majority ethnic-Chinese population in Singapore as well as Mandarin being the primary ethnic-Chinese language used.

There was a big thing in the news in the past few years about one of the more significant Malaysian Air Force planes having an engine "missing" ie. somebody took it out and sold it. Nobody knows who still. Really quite embarrasing. It would likely never happen in Singapore.
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by afrodri View Post

....
I'm curious, why the sarcasm? .....

Because the US military takes iPhones/iPod touchs on to bases, military aircraft and into battles all over the world. if someone wants to spy... Removing the camera from their phone won't make any difference.
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post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post

There was a big thing in the news in the past few years about one of the more significant Malaysian Air Force planes having an engine "missing" ie. somebody took it out and sold it. Nobody knows who still. Really quite embarrasing. It would likely never happen in Singapore.

Wouldn't call it a significant plane. It was an F-5E, whose engines went missing and somehow the MoD listed the dollar values of the engines at twice the original cost of the aircraft in the 1st place. Lots of shenanigans going on.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


Given the growth of Apple in South East Asia, especially as a status symbol, Apple's presence in Singapore is significant.

Not that important that iTunes is still not available in any South East Asia country.......
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by longfang View Post

Wouldn't call it a significant plane. It was an F-5E, whose engines went missing and somehow the MoD listed the dollar values of the engines at twice the original cost of the aircraft in the 1st place. Lots of shenanigans going on.

Wow, it just gets worse. I bailed from Malaysia in September. Just couldn't take it anymore, and my Australian visa was running out.

I remember the engine fiasco because there's quite good graffiti about it in that section of the river bank you can see from Pasar Seni LRT station.
post #15 of 22
I wonder if they might not have been better asking Apple to make them such a modified version rather than altering existing ones. Perhaps they did and Apple said no.
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post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by grayum View Post

Not that important that iTunes is still not available in any South East Asia country.......

No, for various reasons... Intellectual property is as valued as clean air in South East Asia. Hardware is where it's at. If you look at the grey market for iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPad 2, for example, you'll see white units as major seller. Why? Because everyone wants to whip out their white smartphone and tablet, because people spotting it will recognise that it's probably Apple. And a super-thin aluminium laptop? Yeah, that's probably a MacBook Air.

Not to mention, South East Asia is very diverse. iTunes Store would have to cater for Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay (Malaysia), Malay (Indonesia), Thai, Vietnamese, Tagalog, as well as Tamil and Hindi. Not just songs but music videos, TV and movies.

Ironically you do also raise a good point, Apple should have a kind of "Asia" iTunes Store that is uniformly accessible to everyone in Asia. Because people in Malaysia listen to songs from Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as Hindi and Tamil, etc. etc.

As shown with the App Store success in Asia, there will always be piracy. But you make something affordable and accessible enough, and people will pay for it. Your loss from lack of access to your product is 100%. Your loss from piracy is never 100%.

But media companies in Asia are still in the dark ages like in Western countries. EMI and Sony in the 80s and 90s managed to get good marketshare but once the Internet hit, bye bye. The amount of BitTorrent traffic in Asia alone is mind-blowing. There's even all kinds of Chinese-type file sharing stuff that I've never heard of until seeing my colleages use it. AFAIK Chinese-language artistes make most of their money from live concerts and product endorsements. With those Chinese-type file sharing stuff you can literally get any popular Mandarin or Cantonese song in a few minutes. Like LimeWire back in the day, only I don't think it's anywhere near being shut down.

And get this cultural twist ~ movie watching in the cinemas in Malaysia are still popular... Because it's dark. I kid you not, it's one of the few places where you can have a bit of a cuddle or more in an otherwise suppresive country (not that all sorts of wild stuff goes on behind closed doors, just that in public everyone tries to act goody goody). And many younger people (like in their 20s) still live with their parents, so not much space to make out and stuff.

So basically as long as Apple South Asia can keep pumping out the iPhones and iPads and Macs, with the App Store, music and video purchases are well, not so critical. Though like I said, it's a big, gaping opportunity.

Don't get me started on iBookstore for more countries. Again, in Asia, Chinese-language books are increasing in popularity, and of course Indonesian books because of the population... Along with significant rises in literacy over the past and this decade. Another gaping opportunity for a single unified Asia iBookStore. Because, as some of you know, there's tons of Chinese dialects but really only two written forms - Traditional and Simplified. So a book in just three versions - English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese sold on the iBookStore and Android Store or whatever can be accessed by, oh, a few *Billion* people potentially (of course they need to buy a tablet first).

What people don't get about the Asian model is this. You need to come at it from a Western perspective but with understanding of the local scene. It is hard to simply employ locals to do most of the implementation because your business style will fall apart fairly quickly under local conditions as local employees and local regulation will influence what happens. At the same time, you can't do everything the Asian way because then you won't be offering anything unique.

That's why Apple in Asia is most successful from a hardware point of view. They supply the Mac. You can now buy apps with a credit card from almost any country (even then, in Asia credit cards are not "trusted" as much as in developed countries). Apple supplies the iPad and iPod touch. Again, buy apps anywhere you like. For any media, it's mostly just pirated. Books? A big opportunity, of course you'll notice in Asia things like the Bible and Quran are some of the most popular e-Books for iOS. Buddhist and Hindu stuff not so much because they are polytheistic and have many sects (eg. Confucianism, etc). Apple supplies the iPhone. The local telcos do the rest, and they have learnt and expanded fast: because mobile technology came late to Asia and they were able to leapfrog a lot of fibre and copper investments, and Asian society places much less importance of "unwinding at home" (work-life balance is very skewed) and businesses are verbal and not time-dependent meaning if you are doing business you gotta have your mobile phone with you all the time, fancy reception and office is optional.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I wonder if they might not have been better asking Apple to make them such a modified version rather than altering existing ones. Perhaps they did and Apple said no.

It was probably an interesting negotiation but it seems to me that this comes with some approval by Apple South Asia. That is, due to how well Apple South Asia is doing, they get the OK from Apple HQ to do this or let M1/ Singtel/ other telcos do it based on how lucrative the deal is. Apple South Asia will be the ones servicing all the phones for Singapore anyway because in the whole of South East Asia and India there are no official Apple Stores, and a huge proportion of official in-warranty iPhone servicing is done only by the telco of a particular country. There is no real international warranty for iPhone in South East Asia. In fact, in South East Asia, the telco is simply supplied with refurbished units alongside brand new units. All which comes from Singapore as the hub. Telcos just swap the defective unit with a refurbished unit.

So I think Apple HQ says, OK, we'll work on the Chinese iPhone, if you guys at Apple South Asia think you can pull this off we'll make an exception. Again Singapore is the direct link for a lot of Apple stuff coming out of China, it gets shipped to Singapore and then out of Singapore to the rest of South East Asia... It's very rare to get stock as a reseller or consumer directly shipped from China - unlike the US, Europe and Australian markets. Thus given Singapore's (and the government's) wealth Apple South Asia can pull this off, which could but is not too likely to happen in other markets.

To sum up my guess is that Apple South Asia will still service to some degree these modded phones but the mod will be done by select telco technicians with some degree of training from Apple South Asia. They would have asked Apple HQ but Apple HQ probably said no because it's too small a market for Apple HQ to be involved in, given they should be working on the China Mobile iPhone.

Not to mention the potential revenue but also chaos that Apple HQ and *Apple China* (a bigger entity than Apple South Asia) has to deal with.
post #18 of 22
How to turn off the camera on the iPhone...

1. Replace the back glass and front glass with a camera cover. Cheap And less than 1 hour.
2. Use software to disable the camera - its an app after all
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuxoM3 View Post

How to turn off the camera on the iPhone...

1. Replace the back glass and front glass with a camera cover. Cheap And less than 1 hour.
2. Use software to disable the camera - its an app after all

Sorry my friend but you do not understand the term "Secure"
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post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegreatbosan View Post

Sorry my friend but you do not understand the term "Secure"

Okay, when you have no access to the Camera app due to parental controls and have no means by which to restore the phone to an unblocked state, how are you supposed to use the camera?

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Okay, when you have no access to the Camera app due to parental controls and have no means by which to restore the phone to an unblocked state, how are you supposed to use the camera?

If the camera is still there someone will get working again, hackers/kids ? Would need to be removed.
I simply do not trust anything "Removed" by Software control
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post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Okay, when you have no access to the Camera app due to parental controls and have no means by which to restore the phone to an unblocked state, how are you supposed to use the camera?

I hear they are going to disable North Korea's nuclear plans with parental controls. \
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