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Parallel importer does iPhone u-turn

Parallel importer does iPhone u-turn

One local parallel importer has stopped selling iPhones citing uncertainty over Apple’s plans for the device, while another importer and Vodafone are advising potential buyers to be cautious after the latest software release for the product.

Parallel Imported, which has four stores in Auckland, claimed to be the first local seller of the iPhone, but on Tuesday stopped selling the product, says director Tayne Derriman.

“The risk is what Apple decides to do going forward. We’re sitting on the fence a little bit with this one and we’ve stopped selling them for the time being. It’s only one product for us and we don’t want to hinder our business with something that’s not clear.”

According to overseas reports, the latest update of the iPhone firmware (v1.1.1) may render a modified unit useless.

In the US, technology websites and newspapers reported some users of the unlocked devices were experiencing sim card errors after updating the software, while third party applications had been wiped.

Apple boss Steve Jobs has acknowledged the vendor is playing a cat and mouse game with hackers. At the time of writing, hackers overseas were claiming to have provided new unlock tools in response to the software release.

Derriman says Parallel Imported sold “a few dozen” phones in the four weeks it was offered, and the chain’s stance is that it is responsible if a user updates their phone and is then unable to use it.

Parallel Imported was offering the 8GB iPhone for $1199 with a one-year warranty, which covered parts and labour, but Derriman says no phones had been returned for repairs so far.

Tauranga-based online reseller Tosh Computers is still offering iPhones modified to work locally, while Christchurch engineer Layton Duncan imports a TurboSim card that allows the device to function on the Vodafone network.

Although Vodafone provides no support for the device here, it does not lock iPhone users out of its network, says spokesperson Paul Brislen.

The fact that modifications void Apple’s warranty means the buyer should beware, he says. “That’s the risk customers take.”

Tosh Computers says it began selling the iPhone two days after the US release, before Parallel Imported, and is charging $899 for an 8GB model.

“We sell a lot [of iPhones] each week,” says managing director Jens Mueller.

Tosh Computers and Layton Duncan were each using their websites to inform potential buyers about the pitfalls of updating the device.

Mueller says Tosh Computers gives a detailed description on its site of what the iPhone does. The website warns that the current firmware ‘bricks’ an iPhone and that potential purchasers should not buy an iPhone here unless they clearly understand the impact of the firmware.

Duncan has set up iphoneunleashed.co.nz, which states buyers may be limited in what, if any, future software updates they can install. It says end users are responsible for determining whether the TurboSim voids warranties or violates user agreements.

Reseller News was unable to contact Apple in Australia prior to deadline, however managing director of local distributor Renaissance, Paul Johnston, says there is little his company can do about parallel importing of the iPhone.

“Parallel importing is legal in this country. Apple’s been very specific that the iPhone isn’t supported outside countries where it has made it available. If people are so desperate to have an iPhone, that’s a decision they need to take.”

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