iPad 3G SIM-locked to Softbank in Japan
When Apple CEO Steve Jobs first uncrated the iPad in January, he said the 3G version of the device would ship unlocked outside the United States so it could be used with any carrier willing to manufacture a GSM micro-SIM card for it.
Today, this no longer appears to be the case–at least in Japan. There, the models will be SIM-locked to Softbank Mobile, which has evidently negotiated an exclusivity deal for the device. Softbank is the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in Japan, so I suppose this shouldn’t come as shock. Still, it is a bit of surprise, since NTT DoCoMo President Ryuji Yamada said in an earnings call last month that the company would sell iPad-compatible micro-SIM cards in time for the device’s launch in the country.
Evidently, Apple (AAPL) has been pleased enough with Softbank’s support for the iPhone to tweak the multiple-carrier distribution plan it had intended for the iPad outside the U.S. Either that or the company has always been open to international SIM-lock exclusivity deals for the device, given the right terms.
I’ve asked Apple for comment and will update here if I’m offered one.