Apple reiterated its goal to sell 10 million iPhones this year and said the number of handsets that have been unlocked to work on unauthorized...

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Apple reiterated its goal to sell 10 million iPhones this year and said the number of handsets that have been unlocked to work on unauthorized wireless networks is a sign of “great demand” worldwide.

“Of all the problems that I might face, this is one I face looking at with a little bit of a smile because it means there’s great demand,” Timothy Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, said Wednesday at a technology conference. “To have people stepping over each other to get the iPhone isn’t a bad thing.”

Apple’s shares have declined 38 percent this year on worries U.S. consumers may cut back on spending for personal computers and consumer electronics. While Apple is “not immune” to a slowdown, the 35 percent rise in sales last quarter suggests consumers continue to covet Apple’s products, Cook said.

Apple rose $4.25, or 3.5 percent, to $127.21 in extended trading. The shares closed at $122.96 on Wednesday.

Buyers may have unlocked as many as 1 million of the almost 4 million iPhones sold last year, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Toni Sacconaghi estimates.

The number of unlocked iPhones is “significant,” Cook said, but “very few” iPhone customers have hacked the device in the U.S., where AT&T is Apple’s exclusive wireless partner.

“People in all these countries around the world that wish we were selling are finding ways to get the phone in their country,” Cook said. “We need to offer the iPhone in more places, and we’re going to do that this year.”

Apple, which has promised to begin selling the iPhone in Asia and other European countries this year, is “seeing no shortage in interest by carriers who want to sell the iPhone,” he said.

The company also said Wednesday that it will discuss a software kit on March 6 that lets outside developers create programs for the iPhone.