One of the unanswered questions about Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone was answered yesterday by COO Tim Cook during the company’s Q4 earnings call with analysts. Responding to a query from Sanford Berstein’s Toni Sacconaghi about how high iPhone sales jumped after the $200 price cut, Cook disclosed a nugget of market data Sacconaghi hadn’t requested:
That’s an astonishing figure — higher than any analyst’s prediction and closer to the estimates of the iPhone Dev Team, which has registered half million downloads of its anySim unlock software. It means that more than 17% of the iPhones sold were at risk of being disabled when Apple released its notorious software update 1.1.1. That’s a ton of bricks.
How did Apple arrive at its estimate? Cook didn’t say, but it could have just subtracted the number of AT&T activations from the number of iPhone sold. Even that figure might be too low; it wouldn’t include iPhones activated with AT&T and subsequently unlocked for use with overseas carriers or with T-Mobile in the U.S.
The market for unlocked phones presumably shrank after the bricking incident and the announcement of deals to sell the iPhone in England, Germany and France. Apple says it plans to begin selling the iPhone in Asia in 2008.