Apple’s iPhone carrier AT&T (T) has changed its mind and will offer more “eligible” subscribers a cheaper upgrade to Apple’s (AAPL) new iPhone 3G S. That price will be $199 or $299, depending on capacity — erasing a $200 premium.
But not everyone will get the new pricing — it seems only many of AT&T’s biggest spenders.
Here’s our understanding on how to find out if you’re eligible. If you log into the AT&T portal, and click the “Check Upgrade Options,” it’ll tell you a date on when you’re eligible for “a full discount.” This is based on several factors, including your length of AT&T contract, how much you spend per month, maybe your credit, etc. (Ours says “12/14/2009.”) If that date is in July, August, or September, you will qualify for the new, lower rate. If it’s not, you won’t.
We’re not sure who’s taking the hit here financially — AT&T or Apple. And now AT&T has really taught the iPhone crowd that whining gets results. But perhaps a savvy long-term move if arch rival Verizon gets to carry iPhones in the not-so-distant future.
Here’s AT&T’s official announcement.
AN UPDATE FOR OUR CUSTOMERS
Some customers have had questions about our plans and policies for iPhone 3G S, and we’d like to provide you with answers. We’d also like to announce a change to the date when some iPhone customers are eligible for our best upgrade pricing to iPhone 3G S.
Importantly, we want our customers to better understand our wireless device upgrade program. Like most U.S. carriers, we offer a variety of phones that we sell below our actual cost when customers agree to sign service agreements. In general, the more a customer spends with us, the quicker they become eligible for a price break on a new device. For example, iPhone customers who spend more than $99 a month per line with us generally are eligible for an upgrade between 12 and 18 months into their contract.
We also currently offer early upgrade pricing only for iPhone 3G S and iPhone 3G.
All of that said, we’ve been listening to our customers. And since many of our iPhone 3G customers are early adopters and literally weeks shy of being upgrade eligible due to iPhone 3G S launching 11 months after iPhone 3G, we’re extending the window of upgrade eligibility for a limited time.
We’re now pleased to offer our iPhone 3G customers who are upgrade eligible in July, August or September 2009 our best upgrade pricing, beginning Thursday, June 18.
If you’re one of the many customers who will benefit from this change, please note that our upgrade eligibility tools will reflect this change on Thursday, June 18.
We invite you to come to our stores beginning Friday during normal store hours, although please be aware that customer demand may exceed supply in some of our stores. You may also preorder online on June 18 at www.att.com/iPhone, and your iPhone 3G S will arrive in 7 — 14 days. Or you can purchase iPhone 3G S at Apple’s retail and online stores, as well as at other popular retailers.
If you’re one of the customers who benefits from this change, and you’ve already preordered from an AT&T store, we’ll adjust the price of the device when you pick it up. If you benefit from the change and you pre-ordered from AT&T online, we’ll send you an e-mail and issue you a credit.
If you pre-ordered an iPhone 3G S through Apple’s online store, your upgrade eligibility will be reassessed based on AT&T’s new upgrade policy for iPhone 3G owners. If you are eligible for the lower price, Apple will issue you a credit for the difference as applicable.
So, what if you still aren’t eligible for our best upgrade pricing and you still want iPhone 3G S now? You do have options:
- You may qualify for the iPhone 3G S early upgrade price of $399 (16GB) or $499 (32GB).
- You can pay full retail — and not have to sign a 2-year contract — at $599 (16GB) or $699 (32GB).
- You can wait until you’re eligible for our best upgrade pricing. We invite you to check your upgrade eligibility by visiting www.att.com/iphone, calling *NEW# (*639#) on your AT&T device (we’ll send you a text with upgrade information), or visiting any of our over 2,200 stores.
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