Apple and AT&T are reducing the Apple iPhone 3GS to $49 beginning Jan. 7. Are the pair competing against bargain-price Android handsets, or also expecting a Verizon iPhone?
Apple and AT&T are
dropping the price of the iPhone 3GS to just $49, beginning Jan. 7. The offer
is available to new customers signing a two-year service contract and existing
ones eligible for an upgrade, the pair said in a Jan. 6 announcement.
The iPhone 3GS is upgradeable to iOS 4,
lets user talk and use applications at the same time, and can hop on any of
AT&T's 23,000-plus WiFi hotspots.
"Combined with our new, lower monthly
data plans beginning at just $15 a month, this new price brings even more value
to one of the most popular devices in our leading lineup of smartphones," David
Christopher, AT&T's chief marketing officer, said in a statement. "We're
very excited for more people to experience iPhone on the nation's fastest
mobile broadband network."
The new low price is bound to raise
eyebrows-and speculation. Is this AT&T's last-ditch effort to secure as
many subscribers as possible before competitor Verizon announces an iPhone of
its own? Is AT&T simply clearing out stockroom shelf space before it turns
on its LTE (Long-Term Evolution) 4G network
? Or are the two making an effort to compete against
the bargain-priced Android-running handsets newly flooding the market?
In November, T-Mobile, for example,
introduced four Android-running phones priced
Among them was the T-Mobile Comet, said to be the lowest-priced
3G Android phone in T-Mobile's portfolio, and the LG Optimus T (which the phone
maker is showing
off at the Consumer Electronics Show
), priced at just $30 after a $50 mail-in rebate.
Giving credence to the Verizon theory,
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said Jan. 3 that the probability of Verizon
launching a CDMA (code division multiple access) version of the iPhone around
. Further, Munster expects Verizon to activate 9 million iPhones
in 2011, accounting for more than a third of its total new smartphone
Munster is hardly alone. Media outlets
including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Forbes have
all "confirmed" that a Verizon iPhone will be introduced during the first
quarter of 2011. All that's missing now is confirmation from Apple or Verizon-which
isn't likely until after CES.
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg will be
taking the stage Jan. 6 to deliver a morning keynote, but he's only expected to
introduce a half-dozen smartphones, all essentially vying to beat out the Apple
iPhone. The devices will likely all be compatible with Verizon's new 4G LTE network, and most if not all will run Android-if
from the Verizon Twitter account, comparing Android and LTE to
chocolate and peanut butter, is to be believed.
The $49 Apple iPhone 3GS will be
available at AT&T retail stores and the carrier's Website, as well as
through Apple sales channels.