Apple To Unlock Italian iPhone: Are We to Follow?

Dennis Faas's picture

It appears Apple will sell an unlocked edition of the iPhone in Italy, which raises the question of whether the company will adopt a similar policy elsewhere in the world.

An unlocked phone is one that will work with any telephone carrier. So far, Apple has always sold the phone in a locked state. For example, in the United States it only works on the AT&T network. There are similar deals with 02, T-Mobile and Orange in Britain, Germany and France, respectively.

As a reward for offering the exclusive network deals, Apple takes a cut of any money the carrier charges for data calls. The exact details are secret, but it's rumored the cut is 18% in the AT&T deal. (Source:

The reported Italian deal is for the upcoming 3G iPhone which uses a faster data transfer technology than the current model. The deal means the firm concerned (Telecom Italy) will only be the exclusive provider for six months before the system opens up to other carriers, and Apple won't get any share of call revenues. Because of this, the phone will almost certainly have a higher retail price.

It's believed the deal was specifically negotiated by Telecom Italy's head Franco Bernabe and reflects the trend that Italians are more likely to buy 'pay as you go' phones rather than those with monthly subscriptions. (Source:

Apple is probably experimenting with such a deal because of the widespread grey market in phones which have been modified to work with any carrier. Indeed, it's thought there are 400,000 iPhones being used in China despite the fact that Apple has licensed any carriers there.

There's also a theory that Apple is willing to risk lower revenues from phone deals in return for getting more users and boosting the popularity of its Safari browser, the rival to Internet Explorer used on the iPhone.

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