Over the past few weeks several websites have popped up that allow iPhone owners to unlock their phones without a jailbreak or hack... for a substantial fee.
The sites CutYourSim and Negri Electronics are advertising "permanent" iPhone unlocks, while the sites UnlockBase and GSMPhoneSource are offering "unlock" services. Prices for unlocking your iPhone range from between US$170 and $180.
What's interesting about these unlock approaches is that they don't require any hacks or jailbreaks; per iPhone jailbreak hacker MuscleNerd, they appear to directly access Apple's database and add IMEI device identifiers to it, which then tells iTunes to unlock the iPhone the next time it is plugged in. CutYourSim even states that unlocking through them will not affect the warranty status of your iPhone, as this is an "official iPhone unlock."
Readers who choose to go down this route should be extremely careful, however. Though two of the sites advertise the unlock as permanent, it is possible Apple can tell which IMEI device identifiers were unlocked using these third-party websites. If it can, it's possible Apple could choose to relock the phones. Also, if these websites actually have access to Apple's databases, I expect the sites to be shut down within the next few days. Something tells me Apple Legal isn't going to take kindly to this.