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Would the Real iPhone Pricing Please Stand Up..?!

Subsidized or not subsidized?  Which is it, and will everyone get one for $199/$299?  Sheesh!

The iPhone 3G… EVERYONE is talking about it. Everyone. I hear at least 2 or three conversations about it every day (since the 6/9 WWDC announcement) here at the hospital (new job), and these are the biggest bunch of NON-geeks ever assembled in once place at one time.  If even the techno-phobic are interested in this puppy, you know it’s going to make a HUGE splash in both the consumer and enterprise spaces.

However, all of these conversations have one common theme, and I get asked this question at least 2-3 times in some of these conversations and people come and go through them, "If I’m not eligible for an upgrade, can I buy one; and at what price?"

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That’s a GREAT question; and the answer is, I have no freakin’ clue.  What’s more interesting is that NO ONE can really answer that question yet.

I stopped at a local AT&T store last night near closing, dropped the site name, got the, "hey, I know you!" thing, and started asking questions…and that’s when everyone clammed up. I thought it was because there were other customers in the store; but even after they left, I got nothing more than crickets.

The official word on EVERYTHING iPhone 3G specific from anyone at any Apple or AT&T store is:

* The prices are $199/$299
* We don’t know if that’s (officially) subsidized or not
* The unsubsidized price, if any, hasn’t been announced
* We don’t know how many we are going to get
* And, no… I can’t set one aside for you (damn it!)

Calls to AT&T customer service just seem to confuse the matter, as everyone gets a different answer…

* Yes you can "upgrade" to an iPhone 3G even though you DON’T qualify for any other kind of equipment upgrade. 
* No you can’t "upgrade" to an iPhone 3G because you don’t QUALIFY an equipment upgrade. 
* Current iPhone users can upgrade their device at the $199/$299 price points.
* Current iPhone users aren’t eligible for an equipment upgrade.
* The prices are subsidized. 
* The prices aren’t subsidized. 
* There full retail price is going to be $XXX (the price varies).
* We don’t know what the full retail price is going to be.

Damn!  Would the real iPhone pricing please stand up..?! Can someone PLEASE clarify the situation for us?  I’m not asking for any special treatment or favors here, just clarification so all of the speculation stops. I’d rather it come out now than on 7/11, in the store.
If users who want an iPhone 3G can’t get one at the $199/$299 price points because they don’t qualify for an equipment upgrade; and don’t find out until the day the devices are released, AT&T and Apple are going to NEED the police presence in the stores again, as things are going to get REALLY ugly.  That official information needs to come out NOW instead of then to avoid problems. 

If the prices are subsidized, and the unsubsidized price is $499/$599 or whatever, again, fine…but we need to know now instead of on release day. People need time to rub pennies together and make more, figure out alternatives, etc.

There have been a number of different articles posted on semi-official decisions/announcements from AT&T on some of these questions; but nothing truly official yet. Heck, Chris Gavula and I discussed the upgrade/subsidy question this morning when we spoke. I even posted about one of those articles on Gear Diary on 17-Jun-08; but as I’m asking for clarification on the situation, I’m not going to link to it here. I don’t want to add to the confusion, as the article was an opinion piece and pure speculation.  However, at the end of the day, it still leaves the lot of us wondering if and when AT&T is going to tell us who can and who cannot have an iPhone 3G, and at what price, under what conditions.

So…which is it, AT&T?  Can I have one; or do we have to start whining about it now?  Will you tell us, or will it get ugly on release day when you tell someone that they can’t have one, or have to open up a new account?  For those of us that aren’t eligible for an upgrade, will you charge us a prorated early termination fee and let us upgrade, WITH the "termed" number? Can someone in authority PLEASE give us the OFFICIAL, straight poop here?

Again, (and hopefully for the last time) would the real iPhone pricing please stand up..?!

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