Writing for Fortune, ex-The Street writer Moritz cites industry sources in speculating that AT&T may be subsidizing the next-generation 3G iPhone to the tune of $199. The price subsidy would help cut the expected $399 and $499 (for the 8GB and 16GB variants, respectively) price tags to a more easily swallowed $199 and $299.
AT&T is preparing to subsidize $200 of the cost of a new iPhone, bringing the price down to $199 for customers who sign two-year contracts, the source says. Apple is expected to have two versions of the new iPhone, an 8-gigabyte-memory and a 16-gigabyte-memory model with price tags widely expected to be $399 and $499.
Apple has previously prohibited iPhone carriers from subsidizing the iPhone, and has even required that carriers kick-back a portion of iPhone-generated monthly revenue to Cupertino. But, recent moves to clear out iPhone inventories have seen Apple allowing iPhone carriers in the UK and Germany to subsidize the current iPhone’s selling price. Futhermore, rumors are swirling that the next-generation iPhone will hit certain carriers unlocked and without contract – hinting that Apple is considering a radical change to their current iPhone business model.
Apple’s newly relaxed stance on the iPhone-carrier relationship bodes well for the prospect of seeing an AT&T subsidy on the 3G iPhone. But, Moritz’s mention that the next-gen iPhone will sport a 9.2mm thick casing (2.5mm thinner than the current iPhone) while still managing to pack in a 3G radio and GPS receiver, goes against other speculation (from more reliable sources) that the 3G iPhone will actually be thicker. It should be noted that the possibility of a thinner iPhone variant has been thrown into the mix, but the smaller iPhone would exclude the GPS hardware. Is Moritz and his source simply confused on which iPhone rumor to spin off from?
We’re not going to hold out breath on this one – mostly because the speculation comes from unreliable rumor-monger Scott Moritz.
Still, the “source” says that the 3G iPhone will be launched on or around June 27 to coincide roughly with the one-year anniversary of the iPhone’s initial global launch in the US. So, we’ll just have to wait and see which portions, of this latest rumor pans out.