The phones aren’t missing … they’re simply unlocked. Which means that no matter how hard you try to keep a platform closed, end users and entrepreneurs will do whatever it takes to open up the platform. Even if it means voiding the warranting, inconveniencing themselves with multiple update cycles, or the like. So much so that 27% of the iPhones volume has gone “missing”.

Just today the Wall Street Journal and New York Times reported that analysts have begun to search the globe for 1.7 million lost iPhones.

Apple said that it has sold 3.75 million iPhones through the end of last year, but AT&T has activated a bit less than 2 million phones. There was a moment of panic as investors imagined more than a million unsold iPhones piled up in the stock rooms of AT&T stores.

Upon reflection, several analysts have come to the conclusion that the vast bulk of these have been bought and unlocked to use on carriers other than AT&T in the United States and on European carriers who are Apple’s partners.

Relevant Link
Good news in the One Million Missing iPhones