Analyst Horace Dedlo of asymco has published a report that takes the newest selection of iPhones, ranging from the iPhone 3GS locked (for free) all the way up to the iPhone 4S 64GB unlocked (for $849) and suggests that this is the first time Apple has offered a real portfolio of choices for consumers. Along with this, he places the prices for unlocked variants on top of a chart for locked variants of the iPhone, showing quite clearly that not only is there a simple nearly-singular price difference between the locked and unlocked versions of each of the different iPhone models. Furthermore, there's a direct correlation between the ASP (average selling price) of the iPhone from just this past quarter and the current price portfolio Apple has for the iPhone now.
What you can see in the chart here in this post is that the 3GS is at the top of this chart with a completely free price point on-contract (locked) and $375 for its unlocked model. At the bottom is the iPhone 4S 64GB with a $399 price point ON contract and an unlocked price point of $849. Very very close to the middle of the unlocked prices here is Apple's published ASP for the iPhone in quarter 2 (the last reported quarter at the moment) of 2011. What does this tell us? It means that we can assume that the mode equals the mean and the median in the distribution of sales here. It also tells us that the ASP has likely not changed between here and there for Apple on iPhones.
You'll notice that at the same time Apple offered their first free iPhone in the new 3GS pricing model, they also added the 64GB option for the 4S, thus perhaps making up for the lowering price by adding more high-end sales profit. Sound alright?
The other thing to be noticing here is the amount of white space which indicates the difference between the unlocked and locked models. It shows that right around $450 you'll be bumping up to an unlocked model, this of course not taking into account the 3GS which will cost you no more than $375 no matter what. Dedlo suggests that because the unlocked price is also the price that Apple sells its products direct to its customers, and that many countries do not have operators who've made deals with Apple the way the top three in the USA have, that the unlocked price must be very near what the operators pay, regardless of their location, to have the device in their stores.
Sound like a lot of cash to you? Mobile money rolls!