A third of all iPhones sold ended up unlocked

Have you wondered why Apple has been putting so much effort into releasing iPhone firmware updates that cause problems for unlocked? It's because the problem is widespread and causing Apple to lose a lot of cash.

Have you wondered why Apple has been putting so much effort into releasing iPhone firmware updates that cause problems for unlocked?  It's because the problem is widespread and causing Apple to lose a lot of cash. 

iPhone
Based on number crunching carried out by iLounge, more than a third of all iPhones sold up to the end of 2007 have been unlocked from the appropriate partner network.

Here's how the numbers work out:

  • According to Apple, some 3.7 million iPhone were sold up until the end of 2007.
  • According to AT&T, the company had 2 million iPhone subscribers.
  • Add to this an estimated 400,000 iPhones sold in Europe but assume all of these handsets were connected to the appropriate partner network, just as Apple had intended (even though some of these were sold unlocked).
  • That means that 2.4 million handsets have been sold and registered.
  • That leaves 1.3 million handsets unaccounted for.  That's a whopping 35% of all iPhones sold.
  • Even accounting for iPhones sold over the Holidays, this number is unlikely to go lower than 33%.

If you've bought an iPhone and unlocked it, please do the right thing and register it properly, if only for Apple's sakeApple is aware of this problem.  When quizzed about this during Apple's Q1 financial results conference call Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said that the number of unlocked handsets was "significant."

This level of unlocking is costing Apple serious cash.  Let's for the sake of argument, assume that Apple gets a cut of $18 per month, per subscriber over the 24 month contract period.  Now those 1.3 million unlocked handsets represent $561 million in lost revenue.  Not even Apple can look at over half a billion dollars over two years as chump change.  Even if Apple only gets $10 per subscriber, that still $312 million in lost revenue. 

I expect that Apple will continue to try to "persuade" unlockers to do the right thing and register their phone.  If you've bought an iPhone and unlocked it, please do the right thing and register it properly, if only for Apple's sake.

Thoughts?

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