Some early reports are floating around that when the 3G iPhone launches later this year that AT&T will sell it for just $200 if you get a 2-year plan with it but only in an AT&T store. Neither AT&T or Apple are willing to comment on the matter but there are additional conflicting reports from other sources that don’t make sense with this plan at all.
Fortune seems to think that this will be the case but The New York Times thinks it doesn’t make much sense at all and I’d tend to side with them.
AT&T and Apple are probably working together to get the new iPhone within a price that most people can reach but the story as Fortune writes it just doesn’t make sense. AT&T has no incentives to offer anyone to purchase an iPhone in its stores over Apple unless as The New York Times reports,
"AT&T wants to lower the price of the phone and raise the price of the data plans. Right now the unlimited data plan for the iPhone costs $20 a month, far less than the $45 a month the company charges for unlimited data on a BlackBerry. To make up the difference, it could raise data rates and subsidize the phones.
Apple will start selling unlocked phones… In this scenario, Apple might well raise the price of the iPhone to, say $599. But then it would have carriers offer subsidies in return for contracts, as most other handset makers do."
The first scenario is more likely than the second, I doubt very much Apple would sell an unlocked iPhone at a higher price. No matter how you purchase an iPhone, it is still activated through iTunes and all goes to the same page; unless AT&T could find a way to offering a specific page for phones bought through its store on iTunes.