Based upon figures released by Apple and its iPhone partner companies, then analyzed by iLounge, up to 35% of iPhones sold to date may have been purchased with the intent to unlock. According to Apple, slightly over 3.7 million of the handsets were sold in 2007, while its primary service partner AT&T today announced that it ended the year with “just at or slightly under 2 million iPhone customers.” Additionally, though the phone’s European carriers O2, Orange, and T-Mobile have not released official iPhone sales figures, estimates place their unit sales at or below the low end of their targets, suggesting that cumulative European sales now total 300,000-400,000, for a liberal estimate of 2.4 million.
Even if all of these customers kept their iPhones locked to these carriers, this number would leave around 1.3 million iPhones unaccounted for—approximately 35% of total iPhone sales in 2007. Although it is possible that a large number of customers who received the devices over the holidays might not have activated them by the end of the year, the number would not likely push the overall percentage below 33%, or one-third of all iPhones sold during the year. In addition, not all iPhones sold in Europe were sold locked, as both Orange in France and T-Mobile in Germany offered unlocked versions of the phone, albeit at much higher prices than their locked counterparts. It is presently unknown as to how many of the officially unlocked phones were sold.
To date, Apple has been unable to supply a concrete metric on how many handsets were being sold with intent to unlock. However, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, speaking during the company’s Q1 Financial Results Conference Call, said that the company believed the number to be “significant.”