Oh, definitely in the US—look at the difference between the E71 and the E71x, the AT&T version. The GP was talking about unlocked phones. I have an N86 which I bought on Amazon, and it's got SIP and other features which AT&T would hate me to have.
>The carriers were always Nokia's customers, not the consumers
Yeah, but that's the case with every phone manufacturer.
That's exactly my point. In this regard Nokia are not in a special position to stand up to the carriers.
Unlocked handsets don't count: almost no one is paying that much for a phone. Even Apple had to accept carrier subsidies for the iPhone to get the end purchase price down.
Most mobile phones in the world are bought unlocked. Carrier-locked phones holding most of the market is an US/UK quirk, and in many European countries, carrier-locked phones like used in the US would actually be illegal.
Locked Phones are the norm in Germany too.
In addition: SIM locked (i.e. only able to use a designated network) is not quite the same as a crippled phone (like in intentionally crippling the Bluetooth stack to force users to use a crappy service to upload photos for a couple bucks a pop).
I can't speak for Germany, but in Switzerland the only SIM locked phones are the ones that you buy together with a pre-payed deal. And then they have to unlock it for you after a couple years.
Personally I perceive the development of locking down devices as rather disturbing and I really hope that this trend doesn't swap into European mobile phones. That's why, yeah, I feel that Nokia matters a lot.
There are EU laws, but each member is free to add its own rules.
In Belgium, tied sales are illegal (or were mostly illegal until very recently), and subsidized phones linked to contracts are considered tied. Which makes them illegal in Belgium.
And nobody is going to buy a locked phone for the same price as an unlocked one.
Tied sales ('koppelverkoop') have been declared legal by minister Q since about end of 2009 (1), due to Belgian law conflicting with European law. I'm not sure if the revised Belgian law has gone through parliament already, but Euro law takes precedence anyway.
Except for prepaid 20EUR-phones and perhaps the iPhone, which phones in Germany come locked?
I've bought most of my mobile phones of the past on eBay to use with my prepaid card. I've seen Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile brandings on them, but I never had to contact the seller because of a netlock problem. I've also found footnotes like "this telephone can only be used on XXX network, wait 24mo or pay us 99EUR" on brochures and paper ads, but only for prepaid contracts.
If there is a common practice of netlocking most German 24-month-contract phones, when did it start?
eBay isn't a reliable place to get a sense of the realities of the retail mobile phone market.
I. Vodafone's unlocking page explicitly mentions their CallYa prepaid offers and an outdated brand of "VPA" mobile phones and an "MCC" starter pack. There is no sign of a page for the millions of people with a 24-month contract.
II. The T-Mobile page for old phones  lists several models of cellphones; those I recognize look like typical cheap prepaid phones (e.g. the Siemens C35 is there, but not the more expensive S35 of the same era). Their FAQ says that SIM-locks have to be unlocked, but not which phones are locked. It does explicitly say that the iPhone is SIM-locked, which slightly contradicts the premise that all 24-month contract phones are SIM-locked.
III. BASE's FAQ on SIM-locks says that SIM-locks are particularly common with prepaid phones.
While it may still well be the case that most contract phones come locked, it surprises me to read so little of it anywhere.
Any subsidized phone purchased with a new contract is locked, as far as I know. But I don't know of many that are hard to unlock.