We already know a lot of iPhones are being bought to get unlocked and used overseas. But few outside of Apple’s (AAPL) headquarters know the actual damage.
New stats from mobile ad firm AdMob don’t offer a complete picture, but certainly support Apple’s claims that a “significant” percentage of iPhones are being bought for use outside the U.S.
AdMob, a mobile ad network, says about 80% of the ads it loaded for iPhones last month were sent to users in countries where the iPhone was officially on sale — the U.S., France, the U.K., and Germany. The other 20%: Scattered across Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Italy, Brazil, and “Other” countries.
So does that mean that 20% of iPhone users have unlocked their phones? No. We think it’s a much bigger percentage.
Analysts have guessed that the real number may be anywhere from 25% to 60%. And given the AdMob stats, we think that make sense. Why? Because AdMob is a U.S.-based company and half its ad requests are from the U.S. We assume many of its clients are U.S.-based, and fewer are based in European/Asian/South American countries, where many unlocked iPhones are in use. If you’re using an iPhone in Russia, you’re much less likely to end up on, say, CBS Sports Mobile, where AdMob serves ads, and thus less likely to get counted in their stats.
Still, it’s an useful data point to show how popular Apple’s phone is in places it’s not supposed to exist.