Better raid the piggy bank, because AT&T just raised the price of its low-end iPhone 3GS to 99 cents.
It's a curious move by AT&T, which gets little payoff for the price increase, yet loses the ability to tout offering a free iPhone. With a third-quarter profit of $3.6 billion, AT&T certainly doesn't need the extra pocket change that comes with the increase.
Apple still offers the phone for free on its Web site, as does Best Buy. It's a reversal of the usual trend of phones going down in price, even if the increase is nearly negligible.
Of course, the increase of 99 cents isn't going to change anyone's mind about buying the phone. For the past few months, the iPhone 3GS sold perfectly well for $49 with a two-year contract. In fact, it's what has allowed AT&T to continue to hold a significant lead when it comes to iPhone users even with Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel carrying the newer iPhones, and has proven to be a steady driver of growth.
"IPhone 3GS is still available at an incredibly low price and we're confident consumers will agree that this remains one of the best deals for a leading smartphone," said an AT&T spokesman.
He declined to explain why the company raised the price.