Apple, Inc. says it has sold 1.4 million iPhones since the device launched this summer. It has also said a significant percentage of these were sold to people who unlocked them and used them on carriers other than AT&T.
All of these sales happened in less than four months through one carrier — AT&T — in one country — the United States. The rate at which iPhones are sold should pick up even more steam next month, when it will go on sale in several European countries.
Unlocked iPhones Everywhere
The iPhone is currently available only through AT&T in the U.S., and the device has been "locked" to that telecom. However, software is available to unlock this smartphone, allowing it to be used with any wireless carrier.
Because Apple gets a part of the monthly subscription fees paid to AT&T for iPhone service, it has worked hard to prevent people from unlocking this model. It has released several system software updates that relocked the iPhone, and the latest of these actually disabled some unlocked devices, which generated headlines.
Through all this, some have wondered how many unlocked iPhones there are. Was all the noise about unlocking this smartphone being generated by a small fringe group of enthusiasts, or were there significant number of people who bought the iPhone with no intention of ever using it with AT&T.
A statement from Apple COO Tim Cook answers this question: "Apple estimates 250,000 iPhones were sold with intention to unlock." That’s 17.9% of the units sold.