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French iPhones - confirmed as unlocked, but only in France

Reports are surfacing in France that so-called `unlocked’ Apple iPhones are still country-locked to the French networks.

This means, as I said last month, that you can’t use the French flavour of unlocked iPhones outside of France, even though 20 per cent of the Apple handsets being sold in France are said to be unlocked.

This rather sneaky trick has got me thinking. I also now suspect that Apple will quietly shelve it plans to release an SDK (software development kit) for the iPhone in the first quarter of the New Year, despite rumours circulating in the Apple software industry.

The reason for this will almost certainly be economic. As long as Apple can retain a stranglehold on what software is developed for the iPhone, it can keep prices of handset’s software at a premium level and so maintain the handset’s cachet.

I’ve seen some reports over the weekend that at least one vendor has developed a GPS receiver that is powered by the iPhone’s power bus, and plans to ship it, complete with software, for around the $89 mark next February, if not before, providing Apple ships its SDK.

If the SDK isn’t forthcoming, then the GPS kit won’t ship. And Apple will be free to sell its own GPS kit for a much higher price.