25% of iPhones Get Unlocked

Gray market Apple handsets getting reconfigured globally
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2008 9:38 AM CST
Attendee Wil Gieseler talks on his Apple iPhone in front of a iPhone poster at the MacWorld Conference in San Francisco, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The worldwide demand for the iPhone is creating a growing gray market where the phones are bought and sold outside of Apple’s restrictions, BusinessWeek reports. The devices are supposed to operate only through cell phone carriers who have contracts with Apple. But as many as 1 million iPhones, or one-fourth of the total sold, are unlocked for use on any network.

The iPhone is officially on sale only in the US, Britain, France, and Germany, but it can be found for sale in Canada, Brazil, Peru, Poland, Russia and other countries dotting the globe. Apple and its partners haven’t interfered with the unsanctioned sales so far, but most transactions are happening in countries where an authorized carrier isn’t available.