The grey market for unlocked iPhones is flourishing, according to a BusinessWeek report. The report, which suggests that between 800,000 and million iPhones are unlocked, says that the bulk of the unlocking seems to be occurring in countries where the phone has yet to be introduced.
This in some ways lessens the financial impact felt by the Apple and its carrier partners — partners which stand to lose hundreds of dollars in monthly fees per device due to unlocking, but have up to this point done little to interfere with the market for unlocked iPhones. Some foreign carriers have even contacted unlocking sources such as PDA Cable, owned by Nathan Walberg, in order to offer the iPhone while bypassing Apple’s revenue sharing model.
“I don’t know if [these carriers] can legally encourage unlocking, but they’re not going to discourage it,” says Walberg. “This market will go on forever, because I don’t think there’s a way for Apple to stop us.”