So why does Apple care if those iPhones are unlocked or not? Well, The New York Times brings up another good point. Nobody really knows just how much AT&T pays Apple for each activated iPhone on its network, but because they have to report this “deferred revenue” to investors, one analyst thinks he’s figured out the math.
Gene Munster, from Piper Jaffray, thinks AT&T is paying Apple $18 a month for each activated iPhone. That’s $432 for every two-years it’s on the network. Add the cost of each iPhone to that figure, and it appears Apple makes at least $831 on each iPhone it sells (less for the cheaper model). If in fact, there are over $250,000 unlocked iPhones working on other networks, that means Apple is potentially losing millions of dollars.
And so now we get a better picture of why they have been so active in cracking down on hackers and unlockers. I understand the unlocking part, but I don’t understand why some of the other applications have been disabled.
I think this iPhone unlocking business has brought to light a bigger problem, and this conversation is just getting started. As a matter of fact, earlier last week, Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal wrote a post titled “Free My Phone” in which he says:
“A shortsighted and often just plain stupid federal government has allowed itself to be bullied and fooled by a handful of big wireless phone operators for decades now. And the result has been a mobile phone system that is the direct opposite of the PC model. It severely limits consumer choice, stifles innovation, crushes entrepreneurship, and has made the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile-technology world, just as the cellphone is morphing into a powerful hand-held computer.”
Strong words, but they’re true. Check it out, it’s a good read.