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2007: Apple's biggest ever year

Our look at Apple during 2007

2007 will go down as a huge year in Apple's three-decade history. We've taken a look back at Apple's biggest 12 months.

Around the world in six months

One of the factors that will help Apple reach that goal will be international sales. As soon as the iPhone made its US debut, the clamor from those residing in other countries intensified.

Apple's stated plan was to expand into Europe in autumn 2007, followed by Asia in 2008, and while there were many whispers about which countries that meant, there was no solid news until September, when Apple announced partnerships with O2 here in the United Kingdom and T-Mobile in Germany.

In October, France became the fourth country when Apple struck a deal with mobile provider Orange. As we move into 2008, rumours continue unabated for Apple's deals in countries including China, Japan, and Australia; there remains no news to date for US neighbours Canada and Mexico.

iPhone lock down

Perhaps the most controversial issue surrounding the iPhone was the exclusive relationship between Apple and AT&T (and then O2). When buying an iPhone in the states, consumers had to agree to use AT&T as the exclusive service provider, signing a two-year contract with the telecom giant. In the UK the contract with O2 is 'only' 18 months. But the UK mobile phone market is much more developed than that in the states, and consumers are used to more felexibility.

To nobody's surprise, efforts to untether the device from Apple's cellular partner began in earnest as soon as the phone was released. The first major developments came in early September when a number of commercial and open source ventures began to release applications to divorce the iPhone and AT&T.

The issue truly came to a head when Apple released the 1.1.1 software update for the iPhone.

In the days before dropping the update, Apple fired a warning shot, suggesting that there was the potential for iPhones that had been unlocked to become inoperable once the software update was applied. This ignited a passionate argument amongst iPhone users on whether or not it was within Apple's rights, but as hackers eventually found ways to restore bricked iPhones and hack the new software versions, the furore eventually died down.

Meanwhile, a brief stir arose in Europe when telecom provider Vodafone sued T-Mobile, alleging that its exclusive deal with Apple in Germany was against the law. T-Mobile briefly offered a more expensive unlocked version of the iPhone in Germany, but a court eventually upheld the company's deal with Apple, and the unlocked option was quickly dropped.

Meanwhile in France, Orange was required to sell an unlocked version of the iPhone in France due to that country's laws, also at a significant premium from the locked model.

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