has learned some from the troubles with iPhone past launches and they are going to try to make the experience better by settings some rules this time around. While AT&T is calling these “rules” guidelines, we think it really is nothing more than an effort to make a success of what the company hopes is one of the biggest tech event launches of the year.
AT&T stores will receive inventory in time for the actual launch on June 19th. AT&T is already accepting pre-orders online as well as in stores. This change is key this time around because those that choose not to place a pre-order could be left out in the cold. From our understanding, pre-order customers will be given priority.
The way that it will work is when the AT&T store opens, customers in line will then be split into two lines, with those already having a pre-order placed in one line and those who don’t have a pre-order placed in the other line. Pre-order customers will be able to start receiving their new iPhone 3G S starting shortly after 7 A.M., while those without a pre-order will have to wait until the store’s official regular opening time. Upon the actual regular opening time of the store, the two lines will then be merged into one line again. Apple retail stores will also be an option as they will open at 8 A.M. on launch day, but only those that pre-order from the Apple retail store will actually be able to pick up their phones early.
As for the pricing, current AT&T customers that have had a contract with AT&T for at least 18 months will be able to get the new 16GB model for $199 or a 32GB model for $299. If you happen to be a current AT&T iPhone owner, but have not gone 18 months on your current contract, you will be able to pick up a new iPhone 3G S but will have to pay between $399 to $599, depending on how much time is left on your current contract and whether you want the 16GB or 32GB model. From what we understand, you will have to agree to another 2-year contract to get the iPhone 3G S this time around.
The only actual possible loophole in this deal is to cancel your current AT&T contract and pay the $175 early termination fee and then wait three months. After the three months have lapsed, you can return to AT&T and then get new customer pricing, which would save you $225, but you have to endure a three-month wait.
While the pricing and the options might make some AT&T customers unhappy, it is what it is. The bottom line is that the iPhone is still so hot, AT&T knows that people will pay what it takes to sport the new version if they are a big iPhone fan. According to our sources, AT&T should have enough inventory to more than cover the pre-orders, but beyond the pre-orders it is difficult to say if they will be able to meet the demand on launch day for additional units. Our advice is that if you want to have one on launch day, you had better get your pre-order in soon.