back to article Apple: 1.4m iPhones sold, 250,000 unlocked

More than a quarter of a million people have purchased Apple iPhones and unlocked them, the handset's manufacturer admitted last night. With total sales of the phone now topping 1.4m units, according to Apple, that's a staggering 18 per cent of buyers who've chosen not to tether themselves to AT&T's cellular network. It's no …


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  1. Smell My Finger

    Apple won't be smiling

    If the economics of the iPhone dictate it must be locked to a carrier to make money then Apple has no motivation to continue development of the product if they're being unlocked and moved to network where they make no money. I have no idea whether Apple is simply being greedy - locked in phones where they get a bite of income is the gift that just keeps on giving, they'll keep making money long after the device is sold. But if they need this revenue to make the phone affordable they're in bit of a bind as they're being ripped off. Most gadget obsessed people I know who want this kind of device are also greedy, they've got maxed-out credit cards on cupboard fulls of consumer crap, gadgets once used then abandoned, and they really can't afford this kind of thing. They want this on the cheap so they want unlocked phones on cheap, unlimited data contracts that they only get by endlessly threatening to switch networks. Greed is so clearly defined by this device - it's a kind of aspirational bollocks that people keep falling for but never seem to quite grow out of. But the greed is two-way, first there is the greed of the company behind it but then there is the greed of consumers who are living beyond their means, always grasping for more "stuff" whilst not actually having the money to live at this level. The whole iPhone-as-uber gadget is a subject lesson in want over need.

  2. Clive Galway

    Just shows...

    ... that apple think nothing of trying to brick 18% of their user-base's handsets with their update.

    Personally I reckon all 250,000 should flood apple's hotlines playing dumb as to why their handset is bricked. When their call centres are unable to cope because everyone is busy telling customers they deliberately broke their phone to punish them for exercising their legal rights, they might recant.

  3. Mike Taylor

    Evidence and maths?

    Hang on. I'm not sure you can leap to that conclusion. What is possible to say is that Apple say they've sold 1.4 million phones (to individuals, perhaps) and AT&T have signed up 1.15 million users. That doesn't say that a quarter of a million people have unlocked, there being other potential reasons why they might not have signed up with AT&T.

  4. Dan

    Is this counting early UK adopters?

    Mine arrived yesterday; unlocked by lunchtime

  5. Anonymous Coward

    @Smell My Finger

    If Apple's business model is as you describe, then they deserve to fail and discontinue the phone. Apple's business model is analogous to Dell selling you a PC, and then telling you that you can only put Dell's software on it, telling you that you can only connect to the web using the ISP Dell made a deal with, and putting out periodic OS "upgrades" whose main purpose is to screw you over if you've deviated from those restrictions.

    Remember, you are not renting your iPhone, you own it outright. Just as with your PC, you should be able to put any damn software (or even OS) on it that you want, surf using any ISP that you want, etc.

    As one of my friends who worked at Apple from the early 1980's through the mid 1990's once said over many many beers (while still an executive there), "The Apple way is Fascist".

  6. Joe K

    They wouldn't dare brick all those

    ....would they??

    Thats one HELL of a class action lawsuit if they bricked over a quarter of a million phones, these aren't exactly evil pirates were talking about here.

    If people lose their expensive phones because Apple says so they have every right to be majorly pissed off.

    I bet theres a lot of "what do we do?!?" at Apple HQ right now.

  7. Ian Michael Gumby

    Forget the iPhone...

    The iPhone definitely has some wow factor.

    But they are just the first in a new line of phones that will have those capabilities.

    Nokia has a new phone that offers the features of iPhone as well as a full keyboard. (Sorry but as a crackberry addict, I need a real keyboard for my big fingers.)

    Nokia's phone is also GPS enabled, which sets it up to be able to offer better content than Apple.

    Apple is unlocking the phone to sell in France and its opening up the phone to developers.

    You may disagree with Apple's draconian approach to control security, but with the potential apps coming down the road, hindsight will show that it was a prudent step.

    Yes I've seen the iPhone and played with a friend's. GPS is the deal breaker for me.


  8. Matthew
    Jobs Horns

    just goes to show

    Now days its all but impossible for a company to try and enforce loyalty on there customers.

    Will apple still get paid the full amount by AT&T i wonder?

  9. Carniphage

    This is win-win for Apple

    Couple of points to note.

    In these figures, Apple are not recognising the full value of the iPhone sales. Instead the revenue is spread over three years.

    The handset sales are profitable - even those sold to unlockers. Apple plan to sell unlocked phones in France. And will certainly do so elsewhere once the prime markets have been entered.

    For the majority of phones which are not unlocked. Apple goes on to receives even more revenue, as the network operator shares monthly fees with Apple.

    Sales figures place Apple's handset at number 4 in the US by volume. But Apple have always placed profitability above volume. My guess is that by profit, Apple is at number 2 or 1 already. Astonishing!


  10. Mo


    Have any of you ever actually installed the “brick” update? You know it warns you in great big letters not do it if you've modified the device, and gives you easy options to to not install the update, right?

    You do all know that?

    This isn't some “broadcast” update that surreptitiously reflashes the iPhone when you're not looking, it's a big update with a big warning saying “DO YOU WANT TO INSTALL THIS, BECAUSE IF YOU'VE MODIFIED YOUR IPHONE IT MAY WELL BREAK IT?”.

    Good luck with anybody attempting a lawsuit over an _optional_ update that warns you in advance that it will break your device if you've screwed with it.

  11. Frank Bough
    Jobs Halo

    Mike Taylor

    I suspect the reason that you're after is that the remainder were ALREADY SIGNED UP TO AT&T and merely 'upgraded' their package to the iPhone.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Next we'll find that an oxygen-related company make the sim a non-removable item......

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Same old same old...

    C'mon guys, we've read ALL these postings before soooo many times it's become boring.

    @SmellMyFinger - Apple make more than enough off the base cost of the device to not make a loss, sure the AT&T payout is nice but it's not making a loss on the hardware.

    @Clive Galway & Joe K - the "bricking" has already been shown (by another iPhone hacker) to be caused by an error in the original hack code, exactly the sort of thing Apple shouldn't be held responsible for but blown up out of all proportion cos everyone loves a good anti-Apple story.

    @Anonymous Coward - yes you bought it, but you bought it subject to the capabilities that were advertised, don't like them, don't buy it. Simple. I own my "damn" car but that doesn't give me the right to reprogram the ECU and still be covered by the manufacturer if it blows up. Comparing with a PC is totally invalid.

    I'm not saying I like everything about the iPhone, I don't have one, I'll probably not have one when it arrives but seriously... get a life.

  14. vincent himpe
    Jobs Horns

    @anonymous coward

    While you may own the hardware , the software installed on the iPhone is LICENCED !

    they reserve the right to revoke the licence ..... and all you are left with then is a nice box with assorted electronic parts ... feel free to install your own software then... and since it is heavily patented and kept secretive due to lots of asics in the system it will be bloody hard to come up and run you'r ow software on it.

    anyone tried to install linux yet ? knowing apple , it will prove to be next to impossible ... and when i say 'next' i mean on the more difficult side of 'impossible'...

    what was it ? AT&T gives apple 3 $ a month if you were already with AT&T and 11 $ if you are a crossover ? times 24 months time 1.5 million ... ca-ching in... talk about making money while you sleep....

  15. Clive Galway
    Jobs Horns

    @ Michael Gumby

    There already is a better phone than the iPhone - the HTC Kaiser (AKA Tytn II / T-Mob Vario III / Vodafone 1615 / AT&T Tilt / etc...)

    OK, so no multi touch - boo hoo. Windows mobile (more apps than you can shake a stick at), GPS, HSDPA, tethered modem, awesome slide out keyboard with tilt screen. Makes the iPhone look like a child's toy - fun to play with for a wile but gets little to no work done.

    I was sat with a mate who had an iPhone in the pub the other day. People are gooing all over it for a couple of minutes seeing all that it could do. Then I got my Kaiser out. Half an hour later after showing them TomTom, MSN, Skype, DivX movies, Music, WIMP, Pocket Office, letting them watch Sky via Orb TV, play playstation games, a bit of quake, browse the web at 3G speeds - everyone agreed the iPhone was a pretty distraction but my Kaiser was ten times more useful.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Jobs sewing mail sacks?

    Don't know if similar laws apply in the US, but it seems to me (not a lawyer) that in the UK, providing a software release with the _specific intention_ of rendering the target device unusable would be covered by s.1(1) or s.1(2)(a) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971.

    I suspect Apple would have a hellish time trying to claim that their pre-installation caveats give them the "lawful excuse" exemption (s.5(2)(a) ibid.).

  17. DrXym

    Only idiots buy a locked iPhone

    With the price drop, the iPhone is acceptably priced at $399. Wait, not it isn't because that ignores the ENORMOUS cost of the contract that it is tied to. I can only conclude that people dumb enough to buy an iPhone really and truly deserve to be parted from their money for the sake of humanity.

    It's even more pathetic when one considers that you could buy an 8Gb iPod Touch for $299 and virtually any phone for free on much cheaper and shorter tariffs. The iPod has wifi browsing and other important features, and the phone... well it's a phone and probably a damn sight better than the iPhone by most accounts. Oh and you're probably thousands better off.

    I congratulate Apple for their business acumen. I shake my head at the people stupid enough to pay an unlocked price for a locked phone and an expensive contract.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now, I'm from the American equivalent of Siberia...., y'know, I might not be that smart, and certainly not status conscious enough to worry about something like the jesus phone. But, I'm really having a hard time getting my brain around this. So, the thing costs $500 bucks, and it does photos, web browsing, email, music playback, and can place and receive phone calls?

    How much would a decent used/reconditioned laptop cost people? Let's assume it's five hundred bucks, since I've gotten them for that. Laptops will do everything the iphone does, except place and receive calls. Plus with a bigger screen and keyboard. The last time I re-upped my cell plan, I got the cheap nokia 6085, which is basically, well, a telephone. It allows me to converse with people at distances.

    Admittedly, my laptop is heavier, and requires more space and boot time, etc. But, when it comes to actual productivity, which one will deliver a more usable experience? Sure as crap can't type a five paragraph email with a phone.

    Finally, regarding the people who've modified their function-limited, extremely expensive iphones-- I tend to agree not with Apple, but with the folks who've mentioned that the original manufacturer can't deal with a thousand different modifications. If I employed a mechanic to convert my car from gasoline to diesel, wouldn't it then be the responsibility of the mechanic to maintain and service my modified car? Wouldn't taking the thing into the dealership just result in their mechanics perhaps making some impressed noises, and then saying they didn't know how to deal with it?

  19. Louis Wheeler

    You get too many things wrong.

    Where is the proof of your contentions? Is it merely that AT&T says that a million iPhones were added to its system while Apple said that 1.25 million iPhones were sold? That is not precise enough. You don't know when the numbers were quoted or how accurate they are. You jumped to the conclusion that hackers bought the, This is all vapor.

    Second, Apple said that it would sell 10 million iPhones in 2008, not within a year.

    Please get some real news before you report your prejudices.

  20. Chad H.

    On the matter of class action lawsuits

    Anyone with a bricked Iphone deserves what they got:

    1) The Iphone is bought tied to AT&T. This isnt a secret, its fully disclosed when you buy it.

    2) Folks with modified handsets were WARNED about a billion timed before the update was released, and before running the update, that it could cause major damage.

    3) By unlocking the Iphone, they've made modification to the software that isnt covered under waranty. Its yer own dumb fault.

    Now, the ethics on whether you should be able to unlock it is another matter, but anyone with a bricked Iphone deserves it.

  21. Ed


    Apple still make 30-40%+ profit even without any money from AT&T...

  22. Dennis Price
    Dead Vulture

    El Reg hits the big time...,2933,304456,00.html

    "The New York Times and The Register, a British technology blog, both reported Tuesday."

    However I have to stop reading The Register since I was not aware it was a blog.... and I avoid blogs like the plague or people with iphones...

  23. Brendan Sullivan


    Luckily for you, Fox News calls any website a "blog" which has news and commentary but isn't obviously run by a large media company or just the online version of a print publication.

  24. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Of course, if the iPhone was really GOOD, not just pretty

    Apple wouldn't need to be so aggressive, would they?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not that bricked

    It is easy to downgrade back to the original firmware. I just returned from a trip to the states where i bought 3 (only one for me) and downgraded then cracked them in about 10 mins each. (the new ones already have the latest firmware installed). Google iBrickr...

    The phone is actually fun to play with and a great deal of home brew apps are being released. The biggest problem is the headphone socket is recessed so you cant use a normal set of headphones. (Of course you can purchase an extender/adapter to get around this for some £'s). Much like the ipod there are better phones(mp3 players) around, functionality wise but they just dont have the "it" factor.

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