More Americans Unlocking Their Phones

26 Jul 2013

On January 26th phone unlocking became illegal in the US for phones purchased after January 26th 2013. More than 6 months since the law was put into place, we’ve decided it’s time to see if changing the law has had any impact.

Not what they were expecting

We have actually seen a rise in the quantity of phones unlocked by US customers. In fact sales have increased by 71.09%!

We analysed 31 days worth of data either side of the change in the law. We compared 1st December - 31st December 2012 to 1st June - 1st July 2013. Even comparing a massively busy period with a random month still laid out the fact that making phone unlocking illegal in the US hasn’t had the expected effect of stopping unlocking.

A glimmer of hope

There was however a glimmer of hope for those who want to phase unlocking out. As a proportion of visits to our site, US traffic numbers have fallen. Traffic from the US accounted for 8.45% of visits to our site in December 2012, and just 7.14% in July 2013. This shows that some people are now shying away from unlocking their phones, whereas before they were willing to find out more.

Although traffic numbers have fallen, sales numbers have increased because visitors are now more likely to buy an unlock code than they were before. We would think that the publicity phone unlocking has received on technology websites has sold more tech savvy people on the idea, pointing them in the direction of sites like ours. However, those less tech savvy have been warned off.

Overall outlook

As things stand, making phone unlocking illegal for new handsets has decreased the amount of people seeking to unlock their phones. However, reflecting the over 100,000 people strong petition submitted to the White House, consumers don’t agree that unlocking should be illegal. More people are now unlocking their phones compared to before the law was put in place.

What will be interesting to see is whether this is just a temporary effect. As phone unlocking becomes illegal for handsets that are 1-2 years old (rather than 6 months old as is currently the effect of the January 26th cut off date), will our US customers disappear?

We hope to report in the coming months what effect making phone unlocking legal again will have on future consumer behaviour, but those discussed changes in the law are yet to come.

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