A Third of iPhones are SIM Unlocked, Guesstimates Say

Illustration for article titled A Third of iPhones are SIM Unlocked, Guesstimates Say

According to estimates based on carrier's numbers, only 2/3 of iPhones are "legally" activated, which means 1/3 of all iPhones sold are SIM unlocked and being used sans carrier contract. Here's how they arrived at this number.

First, AT&T put out a press release saying that 2 million iPhones were subscribed on their service by the end of 2007. The three European carriers with iPhones (O2, Orange and T-Mobile) don't have official numbers, but iLounge rates them at about 300-400k, which means the total is only around 2.4 million. This, with Apple's announcement that 3.7 million iPhones were sold in 2007, makes put the number at about 1/3 of all iPhones being unlocked.

Even if the European iPhone numbers are low and AT&T customers haven't activated their Christmas phones yet, that still puts unlocked iPhone numbers somewhere around 1/3 to 1/4, which is extremely high by any count. [iLounge - Thanks David!]

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I apprecaite the logic of how you got to those numbers, but I suspect reality is that it is less than 10% of the phones out there. There are dozens of different ways to explain the discrepency in the numbers besides the fact that they are unlocked devices. To give one example, I got a call from one of our ex-producers the other day who received an iPhone as a gift last Novemeber, and he still had not hooked it up yet.

(Also, really — do you guys really trust the numbers being given to the press by these companies?)

Ignoring the explanations, there is the common sense conclusion that there simply are not enough people out there willing to roll the dice on a bricked iPhone. If it is even 1/6th, I would be amazed.