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AT&T Waking Up Early Friday for iPhone Sales

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AT&T revealed this week that the iPhone 3G, announced at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference last month, will go on sale at Apple and AT&T retail stores in the United States at 8 am in each local time zone on Friday, 11-Jul-08. This is a change from last summer's original iPhone roll-out, for which stores closed early and then reopened at 6 pm.

We suspect the early morning start time is a realistic nod to the likelihood that most transactions this time around won't be quite as quick as last year's iPhone sales. Since customers will need to activate each iPhone in the store, rather than taking the box home to activate the phone in iTunes, we're sure the process will take more than a couple of minutes per person.

As fellow editor Glenn Fleishman reported, existing iPhone users, new AT&T customers, and other existing AT&T customers eligible for an upgrade will be able to buy an iPhone 3G at the $199 and $299 subsidized prices. (See "Current iPhones Keep Cheaper Plan on Reactivation," 2008-07-01.) Existing AT&T customers in the middle of an existing contract on a different phone will be able to pay $200 above the subsidized price to start up a new iPhone 3G contract. AT&T customers whose accounts aren't current or who have a past history of payment delinquency will have problems obtaining an iPhone at all, as no prepaid plans are available at the launch. AT&T has provided a Web site to check upgrade eligibility.

There's also been some confusion over news this week that AT&T will be offering the iPhone at a higher price for those who'd like to buy it without a two-year contract. The company has said they will offer the 8 GB and 16 GB models for $599 and $699, respectively, some time after the July 11th launch date for the iPhone 3G. Some early coverage has implied, incorrectly, that the non-subsidized phones will be "unlocked" to work on any carrier's GSM network. In fact, these phones will still work only with AT&T service, but customers will be able to select month-to-month plans and cancel without penalty. (I'd rather pay the $175 early cancellation fee than the $400 surcharge!)

 

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