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iPhone liquidity: Why an unlocked Phone in the US matters

The iPhone is now available in the US unlocked. Judging by the lack of reaction to the news, one would assume that this is not a significant event. I would argue however that it’s a very significant event.

What is unappreciated is that the iPhone is a very restricted product. Unlike any of Apple’s other products (iPod, Mac and iPad), the iPhone is designed to be hard to get. Apple did not make it easy in the one dimension of ease that matters most: its purchase.

Consider that many people in the world cannot buy an iPhone because it’s not available locally. In case it is, in most cases you need to sign a contract and commit to a long-term relationship with a company other than Apple. In those cases where you don’t sign a contract, you cannot use it with a service provider other than the one (arbitrarily) chosen for you.

A few have been able to buy iPhones unlocked if they lived in a few countries (UK, France, Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong[1]) but those phones could only be purchased online if sent to a local address or in an Apple retail store–of which there are not many.

Consider that in Europe alone, the following countries do not have iPhone distribution: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Georgia, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Serbia and Ukraine. The populations total over 100 million people. In Asia the number of countries without iPhone distribution outnumber those with distribution. Add in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East and the unaddressed market begins to look very large.

If you contrast this with every other phone platform out there, Blackberry, Android or Symbian, the iPhone is extremely restricted and the number of people that are permitted to buy it much more limited. The number of operators supporting Blackberry outnumber the iPhone at least by a ratio of two to one.

Then there is the matter of distributors. This is a channel that iPhone does not leverage. Distributors account for more than half of Nokia’s volumes. They buy in bulk and resell (sometimes illegally or in violation of contracts) vast quantities of phones.

By offering unlocked iPhones in the US, the restriction on distribution is lifted to a large degree. What’s different is that these phones can be purchased in 200+ retail locations. Many of these locations are in tourist hubs where there are large diaspora communities rotating continuously back to home countries. iPhones can now be purchased with cash and become as good as cash.

And this is not a new phenomenon. When the original iPhone was available, Apple had to restrict buyers to 5 per person and stopped accepting cash because of the huge grey market demand. The same thing happened with the original iPad and with iPad 2 lines are still forming for it because distribution is so restricted. Consider also that sales in Verizon stores pale in comparison with those for GSM products.

The way to think about it is that the iPhone has just become more “liquid” and it can now flow to parts of the world where it has been difficult to acquire. The iPhone was already liquid to some degree with unlocking and sales through Hong Kong/UK, but the US market’s retail footprint and the lower costs that result will boost liquidity dramatically and probably increase volumes substantially.

Note:

  1. According to Apple, the following 27 countries offer phones which are not “locked to carrier” : Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa
  • H__H

    I just wish it was 3G-usable outside AT&T bands, which it is not. Unfortunately, it doesn't enable US consumers in their quest to lower their monthly bill

    • Iosweekly

      No one is forcing users to sign up for the standard iPhone 2 year plan. No one is stopping users from using the iPhone on t-mobiles 2g+edge network (not everyone cares about download speeds – a lot of users are happy with voice+messaging & using apps/iPod functionality – none of which relies on fast data).

  • YJLee

    One of the more interesting points regards the timing of the release. One would expect that this is a tacit acknowledgement that we should expect to see the iPhone 4 available for quite a while after the next iPhone is released.

    • His Shadow

      That is quite frankly a given. The 3GS is being sold as the lesser model of iPhone at a significant discount.The current iPhone 4 will take the 3GS' place when the next iPhone (4S?) debuts, and the 3GS will be gone.

    • arvleo

      on the flip side maybe the new distribution push is to clear existing iPhone inventory as it becomes harder to sell in case of the new h/w release…unlikely but possible

  • Relayman5C

    One factor is that your local carrier has to have micro SIM cards available. According to Toxic Meatloaf over at Ars Technica, many non-iPhone carriers don't supply micro SIM cards, making an unlocked iPhone worthless.

    • http://twitter.com/PatrickIgoe @PatrickIgoe

      Regular SIMs can be trimmed down easily, I believe.

    • http://twitter.com/trevxor @trevxor

      Just cut it. There are very cheap tools on eBay to do just that

    • http://twitter.com/patrickyan @patrickyan

      You don't need a microSIM. You can just use scissors to cut the big SIM card. This is what China Mobile did for its iPhone users b/c it wasn't an official iPhone carrier.

    • sfmitch

      All one has to do is to trim a standard size SIM card. The business part of the 2 SIM cards are the same, it is the surrounding material that is different.

      There are how-to guides on YouTube as well as people selling devices that cut any SIM down to the correct Micro SIM size.

      A small hassle but definitely not 'making unlocked iPhone worthless'

      • davel

        So from what you guys are saying you just buy the phone and trim your sim and it will now work on tmobile?

      • http://twitter.com/judsontwit @judsontwit

        It always worked on T-Mobile, but only on 2G.

        In other words yes, it's imperfect.

      • Ted_T

        It will work on T-Mobile for voice and data over Edge. T-Mobile uses non-standard 3G frequencies. The iPhone 5 *may* support them if rumors are to be believed.

    • Relayman5C

      Good news for international iPhone fans. I will post a response over on the Ars Technica comments unless someone has beat me to it.

  • I_H

    Thanks. Reminds me of comments made by Tim Cook about reaching out and improving Apple's liquidity as
    you suggest by also reducing the pricepoint buying resistance – the world badly needs an iPhone nano with at least micro pricing!
    The sooner we get to worldwide true multiband and beyond, – the Better.

    • Abhi Beckert

      "The sooner we get to worldwide true multiband and beyond, – the Better."

      We have it. It's only a few hold outs, like the US, which are still stuck using old or exotic radio transmitters.

  • davesmall

    I wonder if AT&T will offer discounts on their monthly charges if you purchase an unlocked phone that isn't subsidized. Seems like they should do that.

    For those who travel internationally this is a great move.

    • http://twitter.com/patrickyan @patrickyan

      They wouldn't because they are AT&T.

    • http://twitter.com/sammyjayuk @sammyjayuk

      Um, you mean they don't already? Seriously? We've had month by month SIM only plans here in the UK since O2 launched Simplicity in July 2007–perhaps from other networks before then, although I think O2 were the first–and have been offered by all the networks for quite a while now.

      As an example, an O2 600 minute (to compare to the US you should double that, since we don't get charged for incoming calls), unlimited text, 500MB data plan costs £37 a month on a 24 month contract with a subsidised (usually "free") phone. That same plan costs £26.50 on a month by month Simplicity contract, and can be further reduced to £21.50 by signing a 12 month contract–a saving of £15.50, or over 40%.

      SIM only plans are fairly popular, although I believe that people tend not to buy a SIM free (factory unlocked) phone to use on them. Mostly people bring a phone to the plan in one of three ways: using a subsidised handset from a contract that has now ended (either a now unlocked handset from a different network–which is how the plans are generally advertised–or a locked handset from the same network), PAYG customers keeping their existing handset and upgrading to such a plan so as to take advantage of the inclusive allowances (again, either locked or unlocked), or by purchasing a PAYG handset and immediately signing up (PAYG handsets are locked so tend to be cheaper).

      I must say that, considering the number of customers, the lack of innovation in the US continues to astound me. Things always seem to catch on later than elsewhere, basic things like text messaging, MMS and 3G (the original iPhone was derided almost universally in the UK for its lack of 3G, and indeed Apple's tagline for the iPhone 3G in the UK was "The iPhone you've been waiting for"). Also, non technical innovation such as PAYG, and the fact that the iPhone is now available on all physical UK networks and at least one virtual.

      Sam

      • http://twitter.com/Marcos_El_Malo @Marcos_El_Malo

        "I must say that, considering the number of customers, the lack of innovation in the US continues to astound me."

        To the U.S. Carriers, the customer is merely a cow to be milked. Now, why would anyone innovate for a cow?

    • His Shadow

      What buying an unlocked phone allows is for you to pick and choose your own plan. When the iPhone went on sale on Fido here in Canada, existing customers with a pending upgrade got the price discount, but signed for three years at their current or modified plan. They were not required to take the default iPhone plans. I, as a new Fido buyer, was stuck for the first year with the default iPhone plan at a cost of nearly 95 dollars a month. A year later I was able to move to a 6 gig a month plan with 100 daytime minutes, unlimited SMS and free evenings and weekends starting at 17:00 for 75 dollars a month.

  • bezet

    I can unlock my iPhone in the UK whenever I want. And you can purchase a Pay as you go iPhone since ages ago. So I totally disagree with this article – people from different countries could already purchase unlocked phones.

    • http://twitter.com/hairyegg @hairyegg

      Based on the current exchange rate, these new unlocked iPhones are cheaper the USA than they are in the UK. (Even the 32GB US one is priced about £50 lower than the 16GB UK one!)

      • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

        Remember to take VAT off the UK price. US prices have no sales tax included. Then you'll find it's not so different.

      • asymco

        Sales taxes are usually far lower than VAT and some states don't have any sales taxes at all.

      • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

        Irrelevant. The point I was making was that when comparing US and UK prices, the US price is without tax so you should do the same in the UK.

    • asymco

      The point is that the degree of liquidity has changed. Even in the UK, the demand for unlocked phones is very high (in the retail shops). Higher than the local population can account for.

      • http://twitter.com/Marcos_El_Malo @Marcos_El_Malo

        I think a large proportion of your readership doesn't understand the impact this move is going to have, perhaps because of euro-centrism. (Funny, it's usually the U.S. readers that get accused of U.S.-centrism!)

      • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

        I wouldn't have said so. Do you have evidence to back that claim up?

        The iPhone has a tariff that is usually £5 a month higher than other phones on monthly tariff plans and usually with a higher up front cost also. Many people just fork out the unlocked price or the PAYG price and stick their own SIMs in, saving them hundreds over the period they'd have been locked in to with an overly expensive contract and enabling them to upgrade when a new iPhone model comes out easily.

    • http://twitter.com/Marcos_El_Malo @Marcos_El_Malo

      You're looking at a savings of $186 or $253 for the 16 Gb and 32 Gb respectively. Bring a 5 of these back to sell to friends and relatives at a discount, and you've paid for your trip.

  • bezet

    Just to add to my comment: I can unlock my iPhone for free in the UK.

  • Steve

    Most of these countries are underdeveloped and you expect a $600+ phone to suddenly make a big difference? Seriously?

    • asymco

      China is "underdeveloped" and it will soon be Apple's biggest market.

    • James

      Yes. South Africa is very underdeveloped. I guess I am living in a dream world. I dream of an iPhone 4 connected to an Airport Extreme while my MacBook downloads at high speed. I can only but dream. Oh, wait… I’m not. I have all those things. And we have Aston Martin, Zonda and Numerous Ferrari dealerships. We have the biggest Porsche dealership in the Southern Hemisphere, just up the road in fact.

      Don’t generalize, it’s tacky…

      • Harvey

        Beautiful.

  • Air Phloo

    You know who will buy these? Brazilians. Seriously. They travel to the U.S. like crazy (Sao Paulo and Rio are the number 1 & 3 visa issuing posts in the world). They spend more in the U.S. than any other nationality. Plus, the price of the iPhone in Brazil is more expensive than almost anywhere else in the world. Brazil.

  • Rob Scott

    We have sold iPhone unlocked since the beginning, but Apple restrics stocks, so there is never enough to sell on Prepaid. They require sell through rates that even the best retailers e.g Zara never achieve. It is frustrating and fascinating at the same time.
    No obsolete stock to worry about is always a good problem to have.

  • http://twitter.com/BenedictEvans @BenedictEvans

    I think you're right on the need for expanded distribution, but 100% wrong on Apple using SIM-free at retail as a vector to address this.

    The UK Retail stores sold SIM-free shops from the day the iPhone 4 went on sale. They had queues of grey-marketers outside from 5AM every day, and were sold out by 10 am every day. Legitimate customers were pretty-much unable to get one from Apple Retail for months.

    First, Apple tried to deal with this by bringing in a policy that you could only buy one per day. Then they realised this was impossible to enforce, so they switched to 'two at a time per person', so the buyers bought their two and then went to the back of the line to try and buy another two. Most mornings there were over a hundred people queuing inside the Apple Store on Regent Street because of this.

    A few weeks later, they gave up and stopped selling iPHone 4s SIM-free in the shop. You can now only get them online, for which of course you need a UK credit card and postal address, and it's easier for Apple to block duplicate orders.

    Frankly, getting people to go to the retail stores to buy tens or hundreds of thousands of iPhones to ship to China is a really crappy solution to distribution. It clogs up the stores, wastes everyone's time (including the grey marketers) and messes up attempts to get the US channel running smoothly.

    I suspect that the real reason Apple has done this is because the iPhone 4 is near EOL and hence they think grey-market demand will be manageable. Or, they have something interesting in mind for the iPhone 5 / iPhone Nano

    • asymco

      My point is that US unlocked phones are a big deal. I don't infer much more than an increase in sales which may surprise.

  • Synth

    This doesn't change things too much in the U.S.–until:
    1. AT&T allows pay-as-you-go iPhones. I can buy an unlocked iPhone and AT&T will still force their silly data plan on me.
    2. Verzon allows anything.
    3. You have a multiband iPhone that can easily switch between Verizon/AT&T (I thot the Verizon iPhone has this capability, even tho it is not activated.)

    That said, serious developers and business travelers will love this thing and it will spawn a nice gray market business! Apple can't lose either way.

    • asymco

      Indeed, this does not change things in the US. This is not intended to change anything in the US, which is why it's so interesting.

  • Ted_T

    Last I checked they compete in European soccer tournaments, so they are European by the only standard that matters :-) See: http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/associatio

    • Kristian

      Ha ha :D I thought that it was the Eurovision song contest :P (the only standard that matters)

  • Coward_the_Anonymous

    The unlocked iP is for US citizens as well.
    I travel around the world.
    1 visit with locked iP in Germany cost me $600 for roaming. With unlocked phone it costs me $60.
    It saves me thousends a year.
    For this reason i bought unlocked iP in Germany long ago, but i would do it in US from Apple if they sell it before.
    I am sure a lot of people will do.

  • Ted_T

    I totally agree with you Horace.

    Now to find out where the hub of grey market exports is going to be we just look for an Apple Store in a state with no sales tax. New Hampshire: iPhone hub to the world. Who knew…

    Unfortunately, for reasons that @BenedictEvans above explains, the likelihood of US sales for an unlocked iPhone 5 off the bat are slim at best. I am desperate to get a factory unlocked iPhone for future travel, but not desperate enough to buy an year old model. Lets hope that they offer the iPhone 5 unlocked at least online via store.apple.com

    • asymco

      The Apple store in Rockingham Mall, Nashua NH was so successful that it paid for building another one on the border in Salem NH.

    • Hdufera

      Don’t forget Dalaware.

  • Jim

    Weird, AppleStores in Canada have sold unlocked iPhone 4′s since launch but don’t appear in the list from Apple.

    What would be game-changing is if MNVOs sprang up to compete with AT&T plans…. In Canada, the three telcos (Bell, Telus and Rogers – aka Robbers) give no break on plans on an unlocked plan even though they are not subsidising the device.

  • Jody

    I think that your definition of "a few" is broken, "A few have been able to buy iPhones unlocked if they lived in a few countries" Your list includes 27 countries including most of Europe. What makes the US so special that getting it unlocked from the US makes any difference?

    I walked into Elisa in Finland, bought an 32GB iPhone 4 for cash and went home and put a SIM for Sonera in it. Absolutely no problem.

    I think it is a big deal in the US, but I think it doesn't matter at all for the rest of the world.

    • asymco

      I consider this a non-event in the US and a big deal internationally. My measure of "few" is based on the size of population which can buy an iPhone vs. those who cannot. So far 200 million iOS devices have been sold. There are 5 billion potential buyers and I believe the number that can access an iPhone point of purchase less than 2 billion. "Few" of those have access to unlocked iPhones. The US is a large market and there are many points of sale for distributors who can now serve them.

  • Triss

    Apple also sells unlocked phones in Sweden since a while back, so it would seem that the list is not up to date.

  • Drew

    Relayman5C – with regards to the Micro Sim issue, there is a simple workaround. Normal SIMs can be cut-down to micro-sim size with a craft knife (and steady hand). The metal conductors are exactly the same. There are online templates to help with the measuring.

  • Niilolainen

    I live in the US and have to use my work-issued T Mobile Blackberry. Now I can take the SIM out and stick it in an iPhone. It is only a matter of time before I do this!

    Do you think this is another nail in RIM's coffin?

    • http://twitter.com/palimondo @palimondo

      I guess it is not that simple: you would have to persuade your IT department to allow and support the e-mail access. That is an insurmountable obstacle in case of my wife's employer. One should not underestimate the inertia of enterprise lazyness.

      • Niilolainen

        Our IT folks already support interface to iOS for email (our execs like their iPads), so should be possible to work out how to do it

        I'm likely to hang on for the next version now though

  • Kristian

    In Finland you can buy iPhone from Elisa Shopit so that you pay that iPhone in 1, 2 or 3 years and they sell it without contract if you want. Though it is good to take contract from Saunalahti with that (Saunalahti Pääsky) because it is the cheapest possible. Monthly pay is 16,90€ and it includes unlimited data with speed around 6 Mbps and minute costs 3,9¢ and SMS 3,9¢* each plus you get "99¢ days" (mon through sun) where your payment is limited to that no matter how much you talk or how many calls you make in that day. Of course if you don't talk at all it is 0¢ for that day or something between 0¢-99¢. iPhone costs the 599€/699€ divided by 12, 24 or 36 to that. (*You can add SMS package to that if you want.)

    • Kristian

      Saunalahti is a subsiadiary of Elisa and maybe i posted too much details, but it was only to show that there is flexipility in what Apple does with operators.

  • davel

    I have read the comments here and it seems the biggest impact is that you can shave your tmobile sim card and now have iphone on one of the secondary carriers.

    I do not know how easy it is to move sprint/verizon. i believe the cdma is the same or similar, but I am not sure.

    If true this is an unofficial launch on all carriers big and small in the usa.

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  • asymco

    The story of unlocked iPhones in the US is a retail story. Apple's retail footprint is predominant in the US.

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  • eerr

    Wrong wrong wrong! Unlocked iphone is terribly easy to buy in europe from online auctions and online stores, unlocked, brand new from people or companies who had to prolong contract anyway and received iphone for "free" cashing it immediately at online auction.. Big choice, low prices really.

  • fesja

    quick note; you can buy an unlocked iPhone in Spain too. It's around 600-700€.

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  • Abhi Beckert

    "A few have been able to buy iPhones unlocked if they lived in a few countries (UK, France, Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong[1]) but those phones could only be purchased online if sent to a local address or in an Apple retail store–of which there are not many."

    This is incorrect, in the small Australian city where i live, there is no Apple store, only two Apple "resellers". Both of them sell unlocked iPhones. And just about every major electronics store in the city (probably about 15 of them or so) sell unlocked iPhones. including major retailers like Myer and JB-HIFI, who have at least one if not several stores in every city in the country.

    • asymco

      That's great to know.

  • Steven Caribe

    For once, I know for a fact that the information in this article is incomplete, and therefore, misleading. Even if Apple doesn't announce it openly, you can get an unlocked iPhone in Mexico through Apple's official webpage. I still think that in the long term, Apple's willingness to sell the iPhone without a contract is good news for Apple and potentially bad news to any companies basing their business plans on the operator's distribution channels.

    • asymco

      Purchasing phones through web sites has never been a successful channel. Case in point is the Google G1 and many Symbian phones that did not have operator support in the US. In cases where I've been able to observe (UK, France) on-line purchases are difficult for unlocked iPhones due to limits on how many can be purchased and limits to where they can be shipped. Resellers have an understandable problem with this channel. This plus the fact that buying the phones by casual tourists requires instant purchase makes online a poor alternative for grey marketers.

      The data is indeed incomplete as I cannot survey every country's distribution options for iPhones. I don't know anyone who does either so thanks for any local data.

      The point I'm trying to make is that the US going unlocked is a big expansion in the grey market opportunity. I don't think the incompleteness of data misleads in this regard.

    • http://twitter.com/Marcos_El_Malo @Marcos_El_Malo

      Yeah, you can buy an unlocked iPhone from store.apple.com/mx for $9799/11,499 pesos. Or you can head across the border (2 locations in San Antonio, 16 total Apple stores in Tx) and buy one for $649/749. For those too lazy to do the currency conversion, that's about $180/225 difference.

      I am sensing a business opportunity here.

  • http://twitter.com/truvoip @truvoip

    I am not sure if it really means such a huge thing. As per my understanding, AT&T will still require a data plan for any smart phone (including the unlocked iPhone). In that case, I am not sure of the attractiveness of an unlocked iPhone.

  • Mac X86

    I don't get what the big fuss is all about. Apple has ALWAYS offered unlocked iPhones. If you read the fine print at the bottom of the Apple Store iPhones page it quite clearly states:

    "For those who are not qualified customers, are not eligible for an early upgrade, or wish to buy iPhone as a gift, the prices are $449 (8GB), $649 (16GB), or $749 (32GB)"

    This has been in place since the release of the iPhone 4. Since the Apple reseller here in Fiji is not permitted to carry iPhones many of us have purchased unlocked iPhones out of the USA for use on our local GSM networks.

    We're also quite used to paying full price for high-end phones as our carriers do not generally subsidise handset costs by pushing users into multi-year contracts.

    • asymco

      In the US the option was not available for unlocked until today. There were phones without contract. They were called "no commitment" but could only be used on AT&T.

  • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

    I would bet there is over a thousand legit places in London alone where you can buy an unlocked iPhone. I don't get why you think the 'US retail footprint' will lead to a surge in the grey market.

    • asymco

      Because many more people travel in and out of the US.

      • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

        That doesn't really figure though unless they have an opportunity to buy. The retail footprint in the UK for places that sell unlocked iPhones is thousands of times bigger than Apple's retail presence in the USA. We've 29 Apple stores, thousands of phone carrier stores, thousands of electrical stores and thousands of supermarkets where you can buy an iPhone.

        I don't disagree that Apple selling unlocked phones in the USA won't have an effect but I think you're way off in the magnitude of this or your reasoning. I'd be surprised if there is any measurable change because of this policy change.

        Also, Heathrow was something like 3rd or 4th busiest airport last year with 70 million people going through it and the Apple stores (there are 4) in London almost always have a queue of foreign people buying iPhones. Why, I've not worked out as the Carphone Warehouse up the street is often empty.

  • vihung

    Are you saying that London is not a "tourist hub where there are large diaspora communities rotating continuously back to home countries"?

    • asymco

      London is huge, but US is bigger and more convenient for many.

      • jaustin99

        As a data point – I was just in the Las Vegas Apple store buying an iPad. They only had verizon because all the ATT and wiFi iPads were sold out. I asked why and my rep said "foreigners can't bring the verizon home".

        I asked my sales rep what percent of the business in the store was "locals" vs. "foreigners". He estimated that 80%+ of their sales was to "foreigners" – buying apple products to bring back to their country.

        Las Vegas is an extreme example – but a good example of the potential for an unlocked iphone.

      • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

        This probably isn't helped by Apple often charging a premium on non-US countries. It's not so bad today as the dollar is weak but at times it's been as big as a few hundred dollars difference between UK and USA even accounting for tax.

        Self importing an iPhone while on holiday or business in the USA often takes care of that tax difference too. :)

  • http://twitter.com/Marcos_El_Malo @Marcos_El_Malo

    It's not prejudice at all. It's conspicuous consumption and it's a worldwide phenomenon.

  • http://franksting.net.au Gavin Costello

    Horace, both you and John Gruber (in his link piece to here) are absolutely correct, but what you don't seem to mention (forgive me if I've missed it), is that for example here in Australia an iPhone is AU$859 to buy unlocked. That's close to US$900 at the current exchange rate.

    I know Australia's market size is small beer compared to Europe and South America, but what do you think will happen first? iPhone 4's filling baggage in the hold of Qantas Jets winging their way across the Pacific or the local price dropping?

    • asymco

      Pricing is a wonderful mechanism the market created to tell us where to allocate our resources.

  • Tim

    Surely that list includes Australia, making it 28 countries selling unlocked phones?

  • Bruce Hoult

    I certainly agree that iPhones FINALLY being available unlocked and for outright purchase in the USA is a big thing.

    Here in New Zealand we never got the original 2G iPhone (though I got one from the USA and jailbroke it) but we had the 3G, factory unlocked, on Day 1. In fact we had it 28 hours before California due to stores here opening at 00:01 while US stores waited until 09:00.

    The 3GS and 4 have likewise been sold here for outright purchase and factory unlocked from either the Apple online store or Vodafone stores, and they work on all three networks in NZ (Vodafone, Telecom XT, and 2Degrees)

    It is very easy to cut down a regular SIM for use in the iPhone 4.

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  • Peter-Paul

    add Austria to the list of countries where an unlocked iPhone is available. It will cost you 519 € (3GS) or 629 € (iPhone 4) minimum.
    It's also possible to unlock an iPhone in Austria after the plan expired (usually 24 or 36 months) – carriers will charge you ~40 € for this.

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  • http://twitter.com/yasaswy @yasaswy

    I just think its one of the marketing strategies to consistently prove the sales numbers.. 1st Q new phone gets releases. 2Q new service providers (Verizon etc). 3rd Q a new versions like white iPhone. 4th Q a factory unlocked one.. so numbers look consistent as if a phone is released every quarter..

    • Andrew

      Apple has been struggling to meet demand while trying to introduce a worldwide product, so there is nothing to prove:

      I see it more as: 1st Q new phone gets released, Apple sells all the iPhones it can make (via AT&T in the US). 2nd Q new service providers (Verizon etc) Apple sells all the iPhones it can make. 3rd Q a new versions like white iPhone, Apple sells all the iPhones it can make. 4th Q a factory unlocked one.. finally Apple's production can meet demand …..

      If so, and if Apple releases a new iPhone later this year, this iPhone 4 unlocked release strongly suggests that the current factory unlocked iPhone 4 will continue in production for a longer term as the "low-cost" iPhone.

      Many people are suggesting that Apple should develop an "iPhone Nano" to meet demand for a "low-cost" iPhone. Why should Apple spend time and money developing a cheaper inferior product, rather than improving their best product? If Apple can continue making and selling their older model without losing premium customers, the way they have done with iPhone 3G and 3GS, the unlocked iPhone 4 has a good future.

  • http://www.ultrasnow.eu/ iPhone Unlock

    I see a phone that is really awesome the person doesn't even know what android is -.- anyway it's happened before that I've been able to strike a conversation with people who have android phones but most of the time no luck.

  • Pingback: The iPhone May Be Immensely Popular, But It Still Has Plenty Of Room To Grow | MacTrast

  • Anonymous

    FOR SALE:Apple iPhone 4G Quadband 32GB HSDPA GPS Unlocked Phone (SIM Free)

    DESCRIPTION:

    Apple iPhone 4 is the fourth-generation of iphone and comes with a new slimmer design and

    front-facing camera capable of video calling. apple also updated the display with a high-

    resolution screen that measures 960 x 640 pixels. It also features a 5 megapixel camera

    with an LED flash and HD video recording. The front facing camera uses an application

    called facetime to make video calls over wifi.

    PACKAGE CONTENT:

    * 1 Apple iPhone 4 Phone
    * 1 Charger
    * 1 Stereo Handsfree
    * 1 User’s Guide

    EMAIL CONTACT: arnoldbruce@hotmail.com

  • Chris Anderson

    We have have the iPhone 4 ,3Gs? 16GB and 32GB, in stock for sale at affordable prices.

    iPhone 3G 8GB Cost……..US$250
    iPhone 3G 16GB Cost…….US$300
    iPhone 3Gs 16GB Cost……US$350
    iPhone 3Gs 32GB Cost……US$400
    iPhone 4G 16GB Cost…….US$500
    iPhone 4G 32GB Cost…….US$600

    Apple iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G 64 GB – Apple iOS 4 1 GHz – Black Cost US$450

    Apple iPad 2 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G for Verizon Black Cost US$550

    Apple iPad 2 Wi-Fi 64 GB – Apple iOS 4 1 GHz – White Cost US$600

    Apple iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G 32 GB – Apple iOS 4 1 GHz – White Cost US$650

    Apple iPad 2 with Wi-Fi – 64GB – Black MC916LLA/ Cost US$1,000

    Contact us for the Full details.and for other mobile phones in stock.

    1. Complete accessories(Well packed and sealed in original company box)
    2. Unlocked / sim free.
    3. Brand new (original manufacturer) box – no copies
    4. All phones have English language as default
    5. All material (software, manual) – car chargers – home chargers – usb data
    cables -holsters/belt clips – wireless headsets(blue-tooth) -leather and
    non-leather carrying cases – batteries.

    SPECIFICATION:

    (ARAB/EUROPEANS/ASIA/US SPECIFICATIONS) GENERAL NETWORK GSM 900/GSM 1800/GSM 1900 PLATFORM – TRI BAND (GSM900 + 1800 + 1900 MHZ.ANY OF THE PHONES THAT IS NOT IN GOOD CONDITION SHOULD BE RETURN IMMEDIATELY TO US AND WE WILL BEAR THE RETURN CHARGES AND REPLACEMENTS FOR THE PHONES.

    Contact us Via: lms414@gmail.com

  • http://unlocked-iphone.org stephen H.

    I think because of this restrictions of apple iphone, it has not lost its charm and is in demand very much in other countries. However, even if people get iphones which are restricted to any provider, generally there are many softwares available to unlock iphone. I guess unlocking iphone can be used with  any provider. 

  • Dani_el9110

    Can I use an iphone 3g unlocked in Ecuador (South America)?

    • http://twitter.com/torero04 David Trujillo

      Did you find out? I shipped a 4s to Ecuador to be activated with Porta and they tell me it needs to be unlocked :/ Lame.