"Worldwide, the cell phone market is split about 50-50 between phones sold through carriers and phones sold through other channels directly to consumers, says Lin.
In Asia, about 80 percent of cell phones are sold independently of a carrier. And in Europe, roughly 70 percent of cell phones are sold unlocked.
But in the U.S., between 90 percent and 95 percent of cell phones are sold through a mobile service provider" (image source).
This of course has resulted in a market that offers far greater array of wireless software and services in overseas wireless markets as compared to ours.
Of course the recent Apple iPhone multi-year exclusive deal with AT&T (the wireless carrier formerly known as Cingular) perpetuates the culture of locked phones in the U.S. market in 2007 and beyond. Therein lies the rub for many folks.
Hat-tip to Fred Wilson for pointing out the cool, new service.