MarketWatch: Unlocked iPhones present dilemma for Apple

“With its long history in the computer business, Apple Inc. is no novice when it comes to hackers,” Rex Crum reports for MarketWatch.

“But even Apple seems to have been caught off-guard by the wave of consumers breaking into its latest gizmo, the iconic iPhone, in an effort to ‘unlock’ the device from having to operate within the network of its exclusive telecom-service partners, which include AT&T in the U.S.,” Crum reports. “The trend has been a mixed blessing for Apple. On the one hand, the company is still selling plenty of the devices, which rank as the most expensive wireless phone on the market.”

MacDailyNews Take: iPhone is not “the most expensive wireless phone on the market.” Not even close. Is Crum a liar, too lazy to take a few seconds to check prices, or just ignorant? You decide.

Crum continues, “On the other hand, iPhones that go unlocked are used on unsanctioned networks, denying Apple the ongoing revenue stream it has worked hard to secure through exclusive deals with its carrier partnerships.”

“Demand for the device is strong, and some consumers in other markets are apparently unwilling to wait,” Crum reports. “Estimates of the number of unlocked iPhones on the market range between 400,000 and more than 1 million. There have been reports of the iPhone being used everywhere from Australia to India to China — countries where the iPhone isn’t officially on sale.”

Such instances show the breadth of demand for one of the most-hyped technological products of the decade. That demand goes beyond the limits of Apple and its current network partners to completely control how the iPhone is distributed around the world,” Crum reports. “Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook touched on the matter during a Jan. 22 conference call to discuss Apple’s quarterly results. Cook said the number of unlocked iPhones ‘was significant in the quarter, but we’re unsure how to reliably estimate the number.'”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Kari” for the heads up.]

For some reason, Crum neglects to mention the rest of Tim Cook’s relevant comments, so we will: Apple sees iPhone unlocking as a “good problem to have” and is a sign of iPhone’s popularity.


  1. Over 2 million iPhones unlocked?

    I think Apple realizes that if they REALLY lockdown their iPhone that they will loose MILLIONS of future units sold.

    In the phone buisness, the numbers of devices in use is EVERYTHING.

    Apple should have offered a unlocked iPhone to begin with and then when zillions of them sold the carriers would have come begging to support it.

  2. @ ak1808

    I am not sure where you live but an iPhone in Oz is not even close to the most expensive “smart phone” out there! I have a Motorola K1 and it cost me WITH A PLAN $1300 AUD over 2 years! (or about $1180 USD). Hmmmm let’s see how many iPhones can I buy for that?

    I have no problem with a hacked iPhone – next purchase when I am in the States next week, in fact. Yep, I have an American Bank credit card. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    So I guess the number will be 1,000,001or 2. Heeh!
    Yes, I now the score is more… I am just kidding!

    Why would anyone want ATT’s <lackof>service</lackof>
    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  3. Stupid… You can’t use an iPhone where ever you want I hate apple for this. You can use a computer anywhere…. You can wear clothes from here and in japan. You can use a camera here and anywhere, but God forbid you use an iPhone anywhere in the World You are the Devil and going to Hell… Oh yeah i also have an iPhone

  4. Apple should charge a one-off $99 fee to bring all unlocked phones back on board with 1.1.4 after the SDK is released… They’d let people use whichever carrier they wanted… They’d earn God know how much one-off cash. Seems an idea.

    I’d pay it.

    Richard + iPhone

  5. People seem to think it’s to do with expensive service plans.

    It isn’t, the unlocking is (mostly) in places in the world where there is no iPhone plan provider.

    @RJS – I think that is a good idea, hope they hear it.

  6. quote ” Crum a liar, too lazy to take a few seconds to check prices, or just ignorant?”

    All three.

    The true reality is cell phone users have been unlocking every phone that is manufactured that is locked, FOR YEARS.

    I unlocked every Sony Ericsson and Motorola I’ve owned. When the V3 RAZR came out, I unlocked the 4 I bought. I’ve bought unlocked phones.

    My point is unlocking an iPhone is NOT usual. And EVERY article or report convey the opinion that unlocking is a new thing with the arrival of the iPhone. People unlock their phones for many reasons. And switching carriers is one. But not the over-riding factor of unlocking.

    Every article written about the iPhone is from the point of view that Apple is stupid, can control it, ATT is rotten etc…



    Who cares? And I don’t believe Apple does either.

  7. “iPhone is not “the most expensive wireless phone on the market.” Not even close. Is Crum a liar, too lazy to take a few seconds to check prices, or just ignorant?”

    Is MDN too lazy to take a few seconds to check prices? I do not see you guys refuting his argument with facts… just emotional rants. I know the iPhone is not the most expensive… but don’t accuse someone of something you are not willing to do!

  8. Most people jailbreak their iPhones so they can install third party apps on it, not so they can use an unauthorized carrier.

    There are people who do unlock their iPhone so they can use it with an unathourized carrier, but most of them do so because the iPhone isn’t available to them in their country through an authorized carrier.

  9. Crum knows diddlysquat. Apple makes money off of all the sales especially to those where no forward revenue stream is possible due to lack of present distribution channels. So what? No big deal that they don’t make money off of a revenue channel they invented to go with iPhones they invented.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.