In Germany, Apple has apparently found a way to solve the vexing iPhone “unlocking” problem, which is costing it hundreds of dollars on each iPhone sold (as Dan Frommer explains, Apple collects high-margin revenue on each locked iPhone activated by AT&T and other wireless partners, which it loses when buyers free their phones).
Here’s the solution: Sell the unlockable iPhone for about $1,000 more than the regular phone. MacNotes.de (via Engadget and MacRumors) note that, to get around an injunction filed against T-Mobile, Apple has begun selling an unlockable iPhone for 999 Euros, 600 Euros more than the regular phone. Buyers simply plug the phone into iTunes, click a switch, and voila!
Not clear how charging usurious prices for a simple software fix will get T-Mobile out of legal jeopardy in Germany, but a similar solution is apparently also in works for iPhone sales in France (where the exclusivity provision will only last six months). And, in any case, we are probably seeing a foreshadowing of Apple’s solution to the iPhone unlocking problem in the U.S.: Buyers will likely be allowed to buy $399 iPhones for use with AT&T–and, say, $799 ones for use with the carrier of their choice.