More Than a Quarter of All U.S. iPhones Are Unlocked
According to a study by Bernstein Research, more than one quarter of iPhones sold in the U.S. are unlocked to work with networks other than AT&T, Apple's exclusive partner in the States. The Apple iPhone has turned out to be a favorite target of hackers and tinkerers. The lack of third-party applications, customization, and the lock in to AT&T's network have driven many home-brew developers to expand the reach and capabilities of the iPhone beyond what Apple and AT&T intended.
A consequence of the significant number of unlocked phones in circulation is not just a loss of revenue for AT&T, but a loss for Apple as well. Apple receives a portion of the contract fees attached to the iPhone from AT&T, so the more iPhones operating off the AT&T network means less money for Apple.
Problems like this may help push forward the so called open access movement, that would allow customers to use any phone or device on any compatible network. The down side is if cellular companies take the open access idea to its logical extreme, it may spell the end of handset subsidies, which means the era of free and ultra-cheap cell phones may be coming to an end.
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