Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Apple CFO sees iPhone unlocking “a positive indicator”; promises “neat things” at SDK event

Echoing comments made by Apple COO Tim Cook last week, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said that he sees iPhone unlocking as a “positive indicator” that is “due to unprecedented international demand.”

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology conference today, Oppenheimer also said that it’s easier to think of a country where the iPhone isn’t being used in today around the world today than where it is. “I’m not aware of places that I could name (where it’s not being used). We view this is as a positive indicator in demand and interest in the iPhone. We’re going to enter more European countries and enter Asia this year.”

Since Apple derives revenue from carrier subscription fees, the company has accounted for unlocking as a significant financial concern in its recent 2007 10-K filing:

“Because the Company’s agreements require each carrier to make revenue-generating payments to the Company, a carrier’s non-performance under or termination of an agreement, or its inability to attract and retain iPhone customers, could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s future financial condition and operating results. If, contrary to the Company’s license agreements or product specifications, an iPhone is ‘unlocked’ from an authorized carrier’s network, the Company would not receive payments related to that iPhone from such carrier, which could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s future financial condition and operating results.”

Of course, revenue from phones sold in countries without official carriers would not be reaped at all without unlocking mechanisms — a sentiment that’s now been displayed by two senior Apple executives.

An audience member asked “I know my company is looking at the iPhone as a competitive device to a Blackberry […] Can you tell me where you are in that evolution, and where you are in solving the bottlenecks about security […].”

Oppenheimer referred to Apple’s special event tomorrow, saying “If you could just hold your question for 24 hours I think you’ll hear some neat things.”

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