Despite the imminent release of the iPhone 3G, first-generation iPhone models are still commanding high prices on eBay and other resale venues, indicating concern over the ability to unlock and/or jailbreak the upcoming model combined with significant demand in countries where the iPhone 3G will not initially be on sale, including Russia and China.
A cursory scan of eBay reveals several listings of unlocked, 16GB, first-generation iPhones with bids in excess of $600. The phone retailed for $499 before it was discontinued.
The iPhone unlock market has proven lucrative for grey-market entrepreneurs who bought dozens of iPhones to resell as carrier-agnostic in international markets. With the iPhone 3G, however, Apple has transitioned its partnership model to a more traditional format: wireless companies pay an up-front subsidy to Apple, allowing iPhones to be sold at a discounted rate, and eschew the monthly stipend, instead keeping the entire monthly subscriber yield to themselves.