Several analysts have released reports this week speculating that as many as one in four consumers purchasing an iPhone intend to unlock the device for use on a network other than AT&T.
The numbers stemmed from quarterly reports from Apple and AT&T; while Apple says it sold 3.7 million iPhones during the last year, AT&T says it signed up not quite 2 million iPhone subscribers. Though many devices were sold in Europe and there are likely more that have not yet been activated by AT&T, analysts are estimating that between 750,000 and 1 million devices have been sold for use with AT&T’s network and then unlocked.
While some analysts speculate that if these numbers are correct, it could help Apple reach its goal of selling 10 million iPhones, it also could hurt Apple’s business model since the company signed a revenue-sharing agreement with AT&T, its exclusive carrier partner in the United States. One analyst estimates that for every million unlocked iPhones in the United States, Apple loses as much as $400 million in future revenue.
Apple has not officially commented on the matter of unlocked phones, but did say that it believed the number purchased with the intention of unlocking them was “significant.”
AT&T said it had nothing to add to the iPhone results released in its quarterly report.