Apple releases unlocked iPhone 3G in Hong Kong

Breaking with its preferred business model, Apple has released an unlocked version of the iPhone 3G in Hong Kong, allowing users to pick their preferred carrier.

The phones will go on sale in Hong Kong at prices of $695 for the 8GB model and $798 for the 16GB version. If those numbers look strikingly high, it's only because Apple's business plan has been to pair the iPhone 3G with a carrier in a given market--for instance, AT&T Mobility in the United States--which subsidizes the cost of the phone because customers are required to sign a service contract and pay for data plans.

Previously, the iPhone was only available in Hong Kong paired with a two-year service contract from Hutchinson, and included a $25 (HK$188) monthly fee.  Now customers will be able to put their old SIM card into the iPhone and activate it in iTunes. It's not clear whether this gamble will pay off, though it could put more pressure on Apple to unlock the phones in other markets.   

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