Since the first time Apple’s iPhone was unlocked there has been a thriving market internationally for unlocked iPhones . The practice itself is legal in many countries, but it’s a practice Apple will not be pleased about, and may well try to argue is a breach of their terms and conditions in some way or another.
eBay has long been the best place for anyone outside of the United States to buy an unlocked iPhone, but today eBay has taken their unlocked iPhone selling to another level by using iPhones as a major promotional tool as this screenshot from eBay Australia demonstrates:
Clicking on iPhone image above on ebay.com.au takes you direct to iPhone listings.
iPhones in Australia at least are no longer making the four figure sums they once were on eBay. An unlocked 8GB iPhone today averages around AUD $700 ($628), still a reasonable premium on the $399 ticket price + sales tax.
Apple won’t be pleased, but there isn’t a lot they can do. Importation of iPhones is legal in Australia, as is unlocking them. The warranties are void, and it’s hard to get any sort of support for them locally; I visited an Apple reseller yesterday who told me that they’re not allowed to even talk about the iPhone, let alone suggest an FM transmitter that might work with the iPhone I had in my pocket.
The eBay prices may sound a lot, but to buy a high end Nokia outright (ie not on a plan) is actually more expensive, so they become an appealing item with a reasonable price. Unlocked iPhones are now readily available in ever increasing quantities around the globe; the longer Apple holds back on international expansion the lesser market they will have when they eventually expand supported iPhone territories.
thanks to Bryce for the tip
Update: It would appear that the iPhone is more spread in Australia than I thought. This image taken from the main 6pm news in a story about school children uploading fight videos to YouTube: