I had a problem. I emailed Tim Cook. He looks to be making it all better. And I'm astounded.
Here's some background.
I am a big fan of Apple. When I moved to Israel last summer I was faced with having to part with my iPhone 4 as it was restricted to AT&T. I had paid off my early cancellation fee with AT&T and asked for an unlock but they told me I could only do this through Apple. Apple in turn sent me back to AT&T. I spent a collective few hours on hold with AT&T, only to learn that neither party had a viable option.
After hours of research online I discovered the Gevey Sim solution. It was kludgy, requiring me to physically trim my SIM card, use an alternative SIM tray and interloper chip, and requiring that I unlock my iPhone. There was also talk of having to dial an emergency access number, but I found an app that worked around that requirement. I've played with these unlocking tools in the past but never found them as good as the original iOS experience. So I never stuck with any unlocks.
Left with no other option, I went for the Gevey. I crossed my fingers, trimmed my local Israeli micro-sim, unlocked my device and a few hours of trouble shooting later everything seemed to be working properly. At first I was reasonably satisfied.
However, over time my phone has become increasingly dated as I could not update the firmware without fear of locking my device. Eventually the springboard started crashing, and over time this became more frequent, resulting in a very poor user experience. I read online about updates to a newer, more stable hacked firmware, but saving SSH blobs is above my technical skill level. And I was sick and tired of this entire chapter. I was so annoyed that I even began speaking with friends about switching to Android.
I also started contacting friends and friends-of-friends at AT&T and their partners to try to find a workable unlock solution. They all seemed to hit the same dead ends I had hit. I even spoke with a lawyer who was considering a class action to demand Apple and AT&T develop an unlock solution for off-contract phones.
But to be honest, I had thrown in the towel. I was tired of constantly restarting my phone, and heading out on the road not knowing if my phone would remain reliable for the remainder of my trip.
Enter Tim Cook
A few weeks ago, inspired by a similar story on Techeme, I emailed Tim Cook. I explained my predicament (omitting the unlocking) and asked for his help in finding a solution to my locked phone challenges.
A few minutes ago I received an email from an AT&T Partnerships team asking for my account info and IMEI number. It looks like they are unlocking my phone! More updates to come as this story progresses.
I'm very impressed. I have emailed a number of CEOs and Presidents in my time. But I've never seen or heard a direct response. Until now.
If this is the new direction Tim Cook is taking Apple in, I'm all in.