Updated August 16, 2008When news of the iPhone 3G – the second iteration of the sexy, stylish and chic iPhone – hit the streets on June 9, 2008, the promise of a faster, sleeker and all-out better phone also came packed with one bombshell that had everyone’s panties in a bunch: It’d be about half the price of its pricey predecessor.
On Tuesday, however, AT&T delivered what may feel like a sucker punch when it announced its pricing.
Various restrictions, limitations and conditions add up to much higher prices – in some cases even higher than the original iPhone.
The initial iPhone rang up millions in sales from ravenous buyers who shelled out $399 or $499 a pop depending on the device’s level of storage space.
The June announcement of the iPhone 3G’s reduced pricing to $199 and $299 was lauded by critics and consumers alike. The cheaper price gave the world collective warm fuzzies.
It would not only save scores of people money but would also usher in a whole new crowd of potential buyers who couldn’t spring for that kind of dough the first time around.
AT&T on Tuesday published several pages on its website to help consumers become “iReady” as well as several YouTube videos (for current customers, dumping a current iPhone and iReadiness for anyone. In doing so, however, the company may be unnecessarily confusing many of its customers or even throwing some into outright fits of rage.
As an AT&T customer, can you really snag an iPhone 3G for $199 or $299? Yes, but here are the specific terms and conditions that apply:
- To get a phone at the lower cost, customers must sign a new two-year service contract with AT&T and activate a new line with AT&T.
- About.com has confirmed that the lower $199 and $299 pricing will remain after the launch date of July 11, 2008.
According to an email from an AT&T spokesperson: “All current iPhone customers who bought an original (2G) iPhone prior to July 11, 2008 get the same pricing as customers new to AT&T ($199 and $299) as long as their account is in good standing. This is true even if they were not otherwise eligible for an upgrade.”
- Current AT&T customers who do not have an iPhone must be eligible for an upgrade discount. Not eligible? This “cheap” price isn’t yours. Eligibility is based on a number of factors including your payment history, nearing the end of your service contract, etc.
You can confirm your eligibility online ahead of time so there are no surprises when you go to an AT&T store. If you don’t own the first iPhone, you can also wait until you are eligible if you don’t want to pay the higher pricing.
In other words, AT&T is essentially saying to current customers who don’t want to wait to be eligible for an upgrade discount: “Thank you for being a loyal AT&T customer, Joe. We’ll give you a steal of a deal for the new iPhone 3G: twice the price.”
But there’s more. The first iPhone came with a required service contract. In an unexpected departure, AT&T is actually selling no-contract iPhone 3Gs – that is, if you’re willing to pay an arm, a leg and even part of your heart for the right to unshackle yourself from the cell phone carrier.
In the future, customers who want to own the mobile jewel with no contractual ties to AT&T will have to pay the punishing price of $599 (for the 8-gigabyte models) and $699 (for the 16-gigabyte models). With these escalating prices and disconsolate restrictions, you’ll likely be numb to the news of an $18 upgrade fee for current AT&T customers and a $36 activation fee for new customers.
Poll: Will you buy the new iPhone 3G? Vote here.
Poll: With the iPhone 3G in hand, what do you think? Vote here.
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