Apple has crossed another boundary this weekend, releasing the 3G iPhone in a truly unlocked state. AT&T and other global carriers offer the 3G iPhone without a plan but you must eventually use the iPhone with the Apple specified operators.
What's special about the Hong Kong 3G iPhone is that you can order it online from the Apple HK online store and put in any GSM SIM from Hong Kong in it. But will this work with SIMs outside of Hong Kong? It should - at least that is what is insinuated from the website. It is possible that Apple will only allow SIMs from other HK carriers. Up until now, Hong Kong iPhones have only worked on Hutchinson Wampoa's network.
What will likely happen if this is true is that 3rd party online retailers (are there any of these in HK? ;) will order up a bunch of these and start shipping them around the world with a small premium put on them. In a matter of weeks, the world will be flooded with SIM unlocked iPhone 3Gs which are essentially sanctioned by Apple.
So what makes these iPhones different than their locked counterparts? Is it hardware or software? My bet is that it is software which leaves the door open to whether or not Apple will propagate this change into future updates, including iPhone 2.2.
With the market flooded with unlocked 3G iPhones, will Apple finally take the shackles off of the iPhone and let it go wherever it wants?
We'll find out soon.