AT&T introduces mysterious update to thwart unlocked-iPhone resellers

AT&T has made it harder to unlock used iPhones in bulk, perhaps to crack down on once-thriving overseas markets

The bulk unlocking of used iPhones has become an active ecosystem over the years. AT&T iPhones are particularly lucrative because they can work overseas -- specifically in Asia, where the market for secondhand iPhones is enormous. At least, used AT&T iPhones were a burgeoning business. AT&T has since taken action to prevent bulk unlocking of its iPhones for use on other networks.

As the above video report from the Wall Street Journal admits, nobody's quite sure what AT&T has done to prevent the unlocking. It's not a total crackdown -- an individual user with an expired contract can ask AT&T to unlock their iPhone, and the carrier will dutifully comply. But batch unlocking of dozens or even hundreds of iPhones is no longer possible.

The biggest ramification here is the collapse in value of used AT&T iPhones, which had enjoyed a significant premium over their Verizon brethren for their international capability. But an AT&T iPhone that perhaps can't be unlocked doesn't warrant such a premium. Accordingly, the price of a used AT&T iPhone has cratered.

This story, "AT&T introduces mysterious update to thwart unlocked-iPhone resellers," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Keep up with the latest tech videos with the InfoTube blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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