Apple’s (AAPL) new iPhone 3G S goes on sale next Friday, June 19. But unlike last year, when hundreds of thousands of people waited for hours outside Apple and AT&T stores to buy the new iPhone 3G, we don’t expect lines nearly as long this year.
Online ordering. Apple and AT&T have been accepting pre-orders for the new iPhone 3G S since Monday. That’s how the earliest adopters have already purchased their new devices, which will either be shipped directly or available for pickup at an AT&T store. No waiting in a 5-hour line.
AT&T’s upgrade subsidy policy. Anyone who waited in line for an iPhone 3G last year isn’t yet eligible for a cheap upgrade to the iPhone 3G S. Instead, it’ll run higher — $399 or $499 (or more). Many will wait for the 17/18-month period on their contracts — around mid-December — to upgrade.
Less significant tech update. Adding a faster processor, more RAM, a digital compass, and voice controls isn’t as big a deal as last year’s changes — a 50% price cut, the App Store, upgrading to 3G from EDGE, and adding real GPS location services.
Not as exciting. The first iPhone was a cultural event for Apple nerds. The iPhone 3G launch was 50% cheaper and satisfied huge pent-up demand. Now this is… just another iPhone. And the 50% iPhone 3G price drop to $99 already happened on Monday.
The economy, duh. Dropping $199 on an iPhone isn’t as easy as it was a year ago.
This is mixed news for Apple. The lines (and all the coverage around them) are obviously great marketing imagery. (Most tech companies can’t even buy that kind of cultish attention.) But forcing your customers to stand around like cattle in summer heat isn’t exactly 100% positive for the company. And it’s a bit of a logistical nightmare.
Photo: Jason Gardner on Flickr
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