Since last year's announcement of the iPhone 3G, customers have grown accustomed to a price tag heavily subsidized by AT&T. Similarly, the just-announced iPhone 3G S will be offered in a 16GB model for $199 and a 32GB model for $299--but only if you are adding a line to your AT&T service or you are a new AT&T subscriber. Early iPhone 3G adopters seeking to upgrade will face serious sticker shock.
If you purchased an iPhone 3G on or after July 11, 2008, you will not be able to purchase an iPhone 3G S at a reduced price until you reach your one-year anniversary. (We've determined this cutoff by checking a sampling of existing AT&T accounts via AT&T's myWireless Account Web site.) If you want the new iPhone 3G S early, you will have to pay an additional $200 for the hardware, raising the cost of a new iPhone to $399 and $499, respectively. The only alternative to this price increase is to wait for your first iPhone anniversary before buying. On top of the price increase, you will--as expected--have to sign another two-year service agreement.
The pricing history of the iPhone has been tumultuous from the beginning, hitting its pinnacle quickly: $599 for an original 8GB iPhone. Apple and AT&T significantly reduced its price shortly thereafter, angering enough iPhone buyers that Apple gave away $100 rebates to the angry hordes.
Are Apple and AT&T trying to take advantage of loyal customers by releasing the new iPhone 3G S nearly a month before existing customers--many who are loyal and anxious to upgrade--are eligible for reduced pricing? Let us know what you think about this situation in the comments.