Friday, April 22, 2011

topright Remote iPhone Unlocking Services Discontinued After Supplier Pulls Plug

Last week, we reported that a number of remote iPhone unlocking services had sprung up, apparently working through a contact with access to the official Apple database of whitelisted IMEI numbers. The services were generally charging in the $170 range to unlock users' iPhones without requiring jailbreaking.

As noted by Cult of Mac, however, prominent vendor CutYourSim has discontinued the service and is refunding customers whose orders had yet to be processed. Several other vendors who had offered the service (1, 2) have also discontinued their offerings.
What happened? Even a representative of CutYourSim doesn't know.

"Unfortunately, we were not able to complete the rest of the unlocks waiting in our queue due to our suppliers being unable to offer the service anymore," CutYourSim told Cult of Mac. "Our suppliers have told us that there is a possibility that the service may return, but they do not know when, so we have decided to start processing refunds for any orders that we were not able to complete."
Notably, it appears that CutYourSim doesn't even know who its supplier was, bolstering our earlier theory that a single person with access to Apple's systems had shopped the service around to various vendors while taking a significant cut of the service fee and remaining hidden in the background.
In other words, CutYourSim's iPhone unlocking service was as much of a black box to them as it was to customers. They would throw an iPhone into one end, wait for the light to go on, then pull it out, carrier unlocked. No one knew how it worked, but it did.

The problem with black boxes, though, is that when they break, no one knows how to fix them... or even what's wrong with it in the first place.
Cult of Mac postulates that Apple may have cracked down on the issue after noticing the significant influx of IMEI numbers being added to the database. It is unknown, however, whether the discontinuation was due to specific actions on Apple's end to halt the practice or if the provider simply decided to call a halt to it due to concerns potential repercussions or other issues.

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