I just got back from Centro Comercial Monterrey where I had to pick up a DV Firewire cable in order to transfer some digital video from casette to hard drive. At the store I noticed they were selling iPhones so, out of curiosity, I asked the price.

“1,800,000 pesos.”

That’s about $900.

And so I said that I had an iPhone. How much would be buy it off me for?

“1,500,000 pesos.”

That’s about $750.

The same day that I flew from Los Angeles to Medellin I met up with my GV buddies Mohamed and Gilad at the Apple store in Santa Monica. (Mohamed incidentally works for Al Jazeera while Gilad covers the Hebrew-speaking Israeli blogosphere for GV … and who says there’s no peace in the middle east. But anyway …) Mohamed was in the process of buying about four or five iPhones for his buddies back in Qatar. At the time, however, the limit was 2 iPhones per customer so Mohamed had to resort to his charming wink and million-dollar smile in order to walk out with more. This I did not understand. Why would Apple want to limit the number of products it sold? We’re not talking diamonds after all.

Well, actually, the market price of the iPhone is almost as convoluted. For each iPhone that Apple sells (for $400), it also receives $831 from AT&T. So, from someone like me who bought an iPhone and is also an AT&T user, Apple will receive $1,231. From Mohamed, who bought the iPhone and took it with him to Qatar, they only get $400. (Hence, when the iPhone is sold separately and not bundled with a cell phone contract, it goes for about $1,500.) Apple limited the number of iPhones it sold to any one person (like Mohamed) so that they wouldn’t take them to foreign places where Apple would receive one third the amount of money.

Now, why didn’t that occur to me that same day when I was standing in the Apple store with Mohamed and Gilad? If it had, I would have bought five iPhones myself, brought them down here to Colombia, and sold them for at least $800 each. That’s about a $2,000 earning which would have just about paid for my entire trip.

What did I do instead? I took a big chunk of my last three paychecks and invested in Apple stock when it was at $180 a share. Then it went up to $200 a share.

I was stoked.

And then it fell to $130 a share.

And I was not stoked. At all.

So what am I about to do now with the paycheck I just received? I’m going to put a third of it in Apple stock. Crazy, I know. But it’s just a matter of time until the success that Apple’s computer line has had recently in the United States starts to spread more in Asia and Latin America. Every day I’m bothered by two or three people at my local cafe who ask me where they can get a Mac. And, as my buddy Greg once pointed out, when the current generation of Mac-using college graduates start building their own businesses and corporations, they’re going to outfit them with the hardware and software they know. That is, Apple. That’s when we’ll start to see the Apple stock really take off.

What else am I going to do? The next time I travel out of the US, I just might stop by an Apple store and pick up a few iPhones first. Ironically, it’s that very plan that is probably responsible for the recent crash of the Apple stock. As long as people keep unlocking the iPhone, Apple’s iPhone revenue will keep falling. If Apple doesn’t start getting out into the global marketplace fast, then people like me will start doing it for them. (And cashing in on the process.)

Update and Related:

Are unlocked iPhones helping Apple?
Piper Jaffrey still bullish on AAPL

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