If you've bought an iPhone 3G and you signed up for a 2-year contract, then that contract still has at least a year to run. However, AT&T will give you access to an early upgrade ... for a price!
[UPDATE: Apple revises upgrade policy.]
The iPhone 3G was released July 11th last year, and iPhonebois flocked to be the first to throw their cash at Apple in exchange for the new handset. In exchange for getting their hands on the new handset iCustomers had to sign up to a 2-year contract with AT&T. Two years seemed like nothing, so people signed up like mad.
Fast forward less than a year and Apple announced at the WWDC keynote that a new iPhone, called the 3G S, would be available from June 17th. What this means is that if you were one of the first to get your hands on an iPhone 3G, congratulations, you now own a fossil that less than a year old.
But wait! AT&T will allow those most loyal customers, folks who stood for hours in line to buy the iPhone on the day it was released, to upgrade. However, to reward their loyalty, AT&T will charge them for the upgrade, and charge them big style.
The new base price for the iPhone for new and qualifying customers (folks who have come to the end of their contracts) is as follows:
- iPhone 3G S - $199 (16GB) and $299 (32GB)
- iPhone 3G - $99 (8GB)
- iPhone 3G - $149 (16GB) ... while supplies last
Sounds good. However, if you are currently mid-contract, the price quickly goes stratospheric.
First, you have to agree to a new 2-year contract. No getting away from that. You don't get your hands on a 3G S without reaffirming your allegiance to Apple and AT&T.
Then there's an $18 upgrade fee. Doesn't sound so bad, but even if you're OK with all that, you'll still pay a premium to get your hands on the new handset:
- iPhone 3G S - $399 (16GB) and $499 (32GB)
- iPhone 3G - $299 (8GB)
Put another way, you pay an extra $200 on the price of the handset. On top of that, and the upgrade fee, you also have to pay another $18 One-time AT&T Upgrade Fee.
Oh, and finally there the $30 a month charge for the data plan and extra for text messaging. MMS messaging, which is supposed to make an appearance later this summer, is bound to cost extra, as will Internet tethering if AT&T ever gets its act together.
That's the thanks that you get for being a valued AT&T customer.
I'm not sure how many people would be willing to pay such a hefty premium to get their hands on an iPhone that's a little faster, has more capacity, has a better camera and features a coating that resists fingerprints. I invite those who are interested to contact me for a game of "find the lady" (I'll prove to you that it's fair because there's a guy that keeps winning). Oh, I've also got some magic beans you might be interested in buying.
Seriously, this is no way to treat loyal customers. Back when $200 was slashed off the price of the iPhone, angering many, Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to customers promising to "do the right thing" for valued iPhone customers. I wonder whether Jobs will intervene again, especially given that the iPhone has been successful in pounding the competition into the dust and doesn't need customer goodwill to be a success.