Court orders T-Mobile Germany to sell iPhone without contract

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
European wireless provider Vodafone on Monday obtained a Court order that requires rival T-Mobile Germany to sell Apple Inc.'s iPhone handset to Germans without a service plan.



The temporary injunction was handed down by a Hamburg court and requests a response from T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom, within two weeks.



Deutsche Telekom has confirmed (translation) the ruling, which can be overturned as part of an appeals processes.



For its part, Vodafone -- which at one time was in the running for its own exclusive contract to sell iPhone to parts of Europe -- claims that it took the matter to court out of fears that other handset makers may follow Apple's example and begin tying their handsets to specific providers, further shredding the German wireless market.



Vodafone Germany chief executive Friedrich Joussen in a statement said his firm's goal is not to prevent sales of the device but rather allow for consumers to purchase iPhones without binding themselves to long-term agreements with any one carrier.



"We want it to be available to buyers without a mandatory calling plan," he said. "If I had wanted to halt sales, I could have, but I didn't."



A definitive ruling on the matter is expected within two weeks.



Update: Coverage of the matter by Dow Jones differs somewhat from the local German press by implying that the temporary injunction restricts any and all iPhone sales in Germany, rather than just those that would be sold with a contract. But due to the agreement between T-Mobile and Apple that iPhone only be sold with a service plan, it's likely that both scenarios would produce the same result temporarily -- a halt to iPhone sales in Germany.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 131
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,590member
    Two things:



    Europe is a different place compared to the US in cell phone land.



    I think Vodaphone is a bent over not selling the iPhone.



    I have to admit though, I would love if my iPhone was with Verizon for coverage reasons.
  • Reply 2 of 131
    vodafone didn't win...



    vodafone sued for opening the iphone to all providers in germany... and t-mobile appealed... ultimately it will end in favor of t-mobile... or, if a mad judge is on vodafone side it will go up the chain to the supreme court... which would take like 3-4 years...



    ultimately it will not man that apple/t-mobile have to open up to vodafone or any other provider...
  • Reply 3 of 131
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    So, what's the likely status of the iPhone during the appeals process? Will Apple be enjoined from selling the iPhone in the interim? Or can they go ahead until there is a definitive decision?
  • Reply 4 of 131
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,071member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by smokeonit View Post


    vodafone didn't win...



    vodafone sued for opening the iphone to all providers in germany... and t-mobile appealed... ultimately it will end in favor of t-mobile... or, if a mad judge is on vodafone side it will go up the chain to the supreme court... which would take like 3-4 years...



    ultimately it will not man that apple/t-mobile have to open up to vodafone or any other provider...



    You might be right as long as you talk about German courts only - but this is utterly irrelevant. Apple is on the EUs blacklist already (locking out customers from other countries' iTunes stores within Europe, iTunes DRM not compatible with other players, etc.). There are myriads of seatwarmers that will want the publicity to address the iPhone issue, it is the number one product everybody is talking about - and it will take less than 6 months for the EU to rule, I am positive. Mandatory bundling of phones is already illegal in France, it is largely unpopular in Germany - these are the two biggest member states and politicians will want to score here. Apple should be clever and move at least a bit (e.g. sell an unlocked phone with a 200-300 EUR premium - it would still be in the price range of the N95 and people would have a choice) - before the EU commission makes them the second MS and digs into every single thing they are doing (bundling Safari and QuickTime with OS X, ruining IT consultants by being stable and maintenance free... etc.)



    I am a big Apple fan - but their attempt to re-invent the phone market as a new player with one single phone was arrogant, un-called for, and it will fail if they do not move. And somehow they deserve it - taking choice away from customers is a bad thing.
  • Reply 5 of 131
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post


    I am a big Apple fan - but their attempt to re-invent the phone market as a new player with one single phone was arrogant, un-called for, and it will fail if they do not move. And somehow they deserve it - taking choice away from customers is a bad thing.



    I agree dreyfus. Apple will not be able to get away with this ploy in Asia - the land of mobile phones......
  • Reply 6 of 131
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,071member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    So, what's the likely status of the iPhone during the appeals process? Will Apple be enjoined from selling the iPhone in the interim? Or can they go ahead until there is a definitive decision?



    The actual (not "likely") status is that the party filing the claim did not ask to stop sales. Therefore they do not stop (yet). Telekom has two weeks to respond, nothing will happen in the meantime. If they are clever, they come up with a move that makes the claim obsolete. But more likely is that they will refer to their contractual conditions with Apple and that entire process will then go into an indefinite loop working its way through courts on different levels. It will likely not be solved in Germany at all. The EU will be there first and Germany will accept whatever they say - it will not be in Apple's favour.



    It is even worse from the publicity and marketing points of view - it damages the Apple brand name. Nobody likes Telekom, the iPhone tariffs are theft and now Voodoofone is the good guy. It will also make potential buyers wait - hoping for better conditions or more choice when the conflict is resolved.
  • Reply 7 of 131
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Apple: do not be that GREEDY and set the iPhone free worldwide!!!
  • Reply 8 of 131
    ....Must be nice to have a REAL JUDICIAL SYSTEM.
  • Reply 9 of 131
    markbmarkb Posts: 153member
    In the US how many people (<<20%?) buy a cell phone without getting locked into one contract or another? How is Apple being the big bad guy?
  • Reply 10 of 131
    bsenkabsenka Posts: 799member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by markb View Post


    In the US how many people (<<20%?) buy a cell phone without getting locked into one contract or another? How is Apple being the big bad guy?



    The US is a different place. People in other parts of the world don't put up with that contract crap. Apple is trying to "force" those people into doing things the American way. That's what makes them the bad guy. To bastardize a cliche: When in Rome, you do as the Romans do, or they feed you to the lions.
  • Reply 11 of 131
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bsenka View Post


    The US is a different place. People in other parts of the world don't put up with that contract crap. Apple is trying to "force" those people into doing things the American way. That's what makes them the bad guy. To bastardize a cliche: When in Rome, you do as the Romans do, or they feed you to the lions.



    Apple's not forcing anyone to do anything. They're offering a product for sale with their partner. If you don't like the package, you are free not to buy it. The phone and the service are a package.



    I guess I should sue Ford because they won't let me buy a Taurus with a Porsche engine.
  • Reply 12 of 131
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,071member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    Apple's not forcing anyone to do anything. They're offering a product for sale with their partner. If you don't like the package, you are free not to buy it. The phone and the service are a package.



    I guess I should sue Ford because they won't let me buy a Taurus with a Porsche engine.



    This argument gets sooo long in the tooth.



    Apple imports a product that is designed and manufactured by Apple into our countries - neither Telekom nor O2 is required to make use of it. If they want to sell it here - they have to follow our rules. And if they want to sell a lot - it would be quite clever to meet people's demands.



    Bundling of products and services is unethical when it is deliberate (e.g. bundling the sale of a medical device and the maintenance for it could be absolutely OK, if it would cause a risk, if somebody else is doing it. If I tell you, you and your family can rent this overpriced house from me, but only if you also buy a life insurance from me, this is unacceptable). The iPhone is a regular GSM phone - it works on every single network in Europe. The bundling is deliberate, unethical and will be stopped.



    The discussion reminds me of that US steak house chain that tried to establish "please wait to be seated" signs in completely empty restaurants ... that was quite the same success
  • Reply 13 of 131
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post


    This argument gets sooo long in the tooth.



    Apple imports a product that is designed and manufactured by Apple into our countries - neither Telekom nor O2 is required to make use of it. If they want to sell it here - they have to follow our rules. And if they want to sell a lot - it would be quite clever to meet people's demands.



    Bundling of products and services is unethical when it is deliberate (e.g. bundling the sale of a medical device and the maintenance for it could be absolutely OK, if it would cause a risk, if somebody else is doing it. If I tell you, you and your family can rent this overpriced house from me, but only if you also buy a life insurance from me, this is unacceptable). The iPhone is a regular GSM phone - it works on every single network in Europe. The bundling is deliberate, unethical and will be stopped.



    The discussion reminds me of that US steak house chain that tried to establish "please wait to be seated" signs in completely empty restaurants ... that was quite the same success



    The only big difference I see between Europe and the United States, is that you have a land of grown-ups who want your government to save your from having to make any sort of decisions you might be held to. As to bundling product and service being unethical, that's purely a matter of opinion.



    And what exactly does a restaurant wanting to keep track of who enters and where they are seated have to do with the iPhone?
  • Reply 14 of 131
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by schmidm77 View Post


    As to bundling product and service being unethical, that's purely a matter of opinion.



    I would say it is purely a matter of cultural perspective. Europeans don't want their phones bundled in the same way that they expect the trains to run on time. Us Americans can't seem to understand that regulation can be pro-business
  • Reply 15 of 131
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,071member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by schmidm77 View Post


    The only big difference I see between Europe and the United States, is that you have a land of grown-ups who want your government to save your from having to make any sort of decisions you might be held to. As to bundling product and service being unethical, that's purely a matter of opinion.



    Pardon, but I strongly disagree. Being the legislation is one of the main roles of every government - no matter where. They have to make laws that limit a citizens risk of being killed, robbed or abused. Forcing a person that does an average of two phone calls a month and may have 10 MB of Internet traffic to sign up for a 45 EUR per months contract for 24 months is abuse. Selling a person a product and not giving him/her ownership is scam. Yes, I do want my government to protect me from that - I do not want to sell my house in order to be able to afford a lawyer that will do it for me. I pay 52 percent income tax and 19 % VAT - and yes, I want them to do something for my money.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by schmidm77 View Post


    And what exactly does a restaurant wanting to keep track of who enters and where they are seated have to do with the iPhone?



    This was really just a joke illustrating cultural differences (and no, I am not even suggesting one or the other is better, things can indeed be different without one or the other being better or worse). People in Germany enter a restaurant, choose a table and sit down (unless it is a very exclusive place where reservations are the norm) - the guests are paying the bill, so they choose. Not even the most expensive place would lure a guest to sit at the bar, if there are vacant tables. They simply tried to enforce that - the US management put pressure on the local employees to proceed like that and the staff got kicked by the guests... most people did not come again. I simply meant to say: If Apple wants to succeed with this, they have to adjust to local habits and demands (or keep their phone in the US, which is their decision). Apple has to realise at some point that over 95% of the world market is outside the US - and most of it (not necessarily Europe) has significantly more growth potential.
  • Reply 16 of 131
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by markb View Post


    In the US how many people (<<20%?) buy a cell phone without getting locked into one contract or another? How is Apple being the big bad guy?



    The market in the U.S. is very anti-consumer, and really needs to be changed to more the way things done in Europe. Apple could have sold its phone without making any deals with anyone. They have the retail infrastructure, brand recognition, everything needed to "think different" in the U.S. Instead they chose to keep up the status quo system.



    I know, it isn't Apple's responsibility to change the entire cell phone industry in the U.S. But how about this: In the U.S., the reason most people get locked into contracts is because the phone becomes subsidized, so the consumer's buying power goes up and they can get a fancier phone. Apple has arguably made matters WORSE now. They have introduced a new concept of
    • customer gets locked into contract

    • gets locked to a single provider (AT&T has stated they will not unlock iPhones as they will other handsets after contract termination)

    • and still have to pay full price for the hardware!

    The customer is gaining zilch now by agreeing to the terms except to be accepted into a market segment artificially created with software locking. And you know providers will try something like this with a future smartphone/"iPhone killer" now that its been tried and they've seen they don't have to go to the expense of subsidizing the hardware, because people will buy it anyway.



    ---



    Oh, and hello everyone! Seafox here, you might remember me from such forums as MacRumors, Macworld/MacCentral, and ThinkSecret. I'm a longtime lurker here, but now I can post. </endTroyMcClurevoice>
  • Reply 17 of 131
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post


    I simply meant to say: If Apple wants to succeed with this, they have to adjust to local habits and demands (or keep their phone in the US, which is their decision). Apple has to realise at some point that over 95% of the world market is outside the US - and most of it (not necessarily Europe) has significantly more growth potential.



    ? The US has quite a bit of the cell market than 5%.

    ? While Europe can still grow it is quite saturated compared to the US population compared to the number of people with cell phones.

    ? Apple has not conformed to typical manufacture habits. They are getting carrier to pay them monthly dues for the privilege of have exclusive rights to the iPhone.

    ? I agree that Apple should have released the iPhone unlocked. They could have sold it in every EU country right away but they apparently have something else in mind since they didn't.
  • Reply 18 of 131
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bsenka View Post


    The US is a different place. People in other parts of the world don't put up with that contract crap. Apple is trying to "force" those people into doing things the American way. That's what makes them the bad guy. To bastardize a cliche: When in Rome, you do as the Romans do, or they feed you to the lions.



    What an absurd comment. So you are saying, that in the rest of the world, no one observes contracts???



    What binds two parties when they make a deal - business or otherwise?



    I think I'll purchase my next car somewhere other than in the US, make a few payments and then say, "I don't put up with that contract crap"! I'm keeping the car and you have to make do with what I paid you.



    I'll start a business somewhere else in the world where I can collect someone's money for painting and get paid for a job painting a four sided house and paint only three sides and when they complain, say, "I don't put up with that contract crap"! I'll keep their money and go to my next painting job.



    I think I'll get married overseas so if I have a fling with another person, I won't fear any reprisal because "I don't put up with that contract crap" regarding all that 'forsaking all others' stuff. Although it didn't work too well for Paul McCartney...



    How do you "force" your boss in paying you for a weeks worth of work when your employer can pay you nothing and tell you they don't "put up with that contract crap".



    Apple is selling a product that requires partnering with a telecom service provider for Apple's product to fully work ie. "Visual Vociemail" and who knows what could be next for Apple's iPhone. Apple is a business and that makes them bad?! I guess I can take my 'American Airline' ticket and board 'Virgin Atlantic Airways' with no problem whatsoever because I'm not contractually obligated?!



    Doing it the American way??? I read throughout the history of the USA that people from other parts of the world are coming here because of the "American Way" to achieve the the "American Dream" and "American Experience"... Not to offend, but I don't recall a mass migration from America to any other region of the world be it Europe, Asia, South America, etc.



    Heck, even those idiot Hollywood types like Alec Baldwin and Barbara Streisand never kept their promises of moving away when President Bush got elected because they are too adept to the "American Way" to keep their word. D*mn it!



    To bastardize another cliche: "Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining!"
  • Reply 19 of 131
    ajmasajmas Posts: 557member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post


    Apple has to realise at some point that over 95% of the world market is outside the US - and most of it (not necessarily Europe) has significantly more growth potential.



    The biggest irony in all this is Apple's attempt to be greedy in the European market, may in fact make more countries force laws to make phones available without contract. Apple is going to start finding out that Americans and Europeans are very different when it comes to what they believe are inherent rights.



    Whether Europe or the USA is right doesn't really matter, since it ends coming down to cultural differences and being akin to the Lilliputian dispute of which end of the egg is the right one to eat from.



    Neither system is perfect, but for me the better system attempts to serve its populous, rather than its corporations.



    BTW Nobody is saying that you should be free to disregard a contract if it doesn't suit you. What is being said is that contracts which are considered a hindrance to fair competition shouldn't be legal. As for the American dream, as far as I can tell while it is better than many countries it has been in decline for a while.



    Edit: I suppose Apple could change their approach to indicate 'recommended' providers, providing the extended services needed to take full advantage of the iPhone.
  • Reply 20 of 131
    A halt to iPhone sales? Thats exactly the outcome Vodaphone wants. It obviously has nothing to do with the "moral principals" that Vodaphone argues in court.
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