Apple eliminated GPS functionality in order to sell the iPhone 3G in Egypt, the New York Times reported Monday. Cupertino’s acquiesense to the Egyptian government comes as the company negotiates entry into China’s 500 million consumers.
Apple silently modified the iPhone in the face of Egyptian concerns that GPS could be a military security risk, according to the newspaper. However, the changes come as governments attempt to put a lid on technology used by pro-democracy movements.
On the Egyptian iPhone Web page, Apple mentions 3G, Wi-Fiand Microsoft Exchange compatibility, but not GPS.
Ahmed Gabr, an Egyptian blogger that operates gadgetsarabia.com, believes Apple’s actions were made in coordination with carriers such as Vodafone and Mobinil.
Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster has called Wi-Fi a “limiting factor” in getting the iPhone into China. One option is to offer an iPhone without Wi-Fi or 3G for China’s consumers. Apple has said it would like to enter the China market by the end of 2008.
Although Egypt and possibly China could demand Apple remove offending iPhone features, hobbled technology won’t likely mean the end to public unrest. Gabr purchased a fully-loaded iPhone from eBay.