TidBITS reader Julian Allason reports that the iPhone has spread well beyond Apple’s supported countries, even to places that might not come to mind as Apple’s next major iPhone launch market, like Syria. Julian writes, “You will be amused to hear that the hottest topic everywhere I have been in Syria is – the iPhone. Almost everyone recognises mine and rushes over (well, not the women, who merely ululate from a distance). It is freely available with, I think, v. 1.1.4 unlocked. Prices are US$600-625 with a ‘bulletproof’ guarantee! The two Syrian cell networks offer very cheap minutes, but then prices outside the Four Seasons Hotel are low here. Where do these iPhones come from? One theory is that the iPhones originate with U.S. forces in Iraq and come back on the empty convoys of lorries.”
After this piece was posted on the Web and I commented about it on Twitter, I heard from readers in other countries as well. In Kenya the iPhone goes for about $1,000, and in Brazil (traditionally a Macintosh stronghold), an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 iPhones have been sold unofficially.
Internationally, BusinessWeek estimates that between 800,000 and 1,000,000 iPhones have been sold on the gray market, and the Market Share site by Net Applications shows that Web browsing from the iPhone is taking place in nearly every country at rates that likely exceed the amount used by travelers.