updated 10:14 pm EDT, Mon August 6, 2012
Trying to clear inventory ahead of alleged September event?
The third-largest US iPhone carrier, Sprint, quietly dropped the price of the iPhone 4S by $50 across almost all sizes over the weekend, with the 16GB model now starting at $150 on a two-year contract, though the base 8GB model remains at $100. The 32GB and 64GB models are also $50 off, at $250 and $350 respectively. The company is also waiving its usual activation fee, an indication that it is intent on increasing iPhone sales in the run-up to the rumored September 12 unveiling of the next model.
Sources differ on whether the promotion has been approved by Apple, but Sprint has other reasons to want to increase its iPhone base -- the company invested heavily in iPhone subsidies, causing short-term losses that alarmed investors. The faster it can turn those numbers around, the better position it will be in to continue upgrading its network and offering incentives on the next model of iPhone, whenever it comes out. Most recently it has seen the iPhone as a major draw to the carrier, selling about 1.5 million units per quarter.
Neither of Sprint's iPhone-carrying rivals, AT&T or Verizon, have thus far matched prices with Sprint's promotion. The iPhone 4S itself is nearly 10 months old, though it's attractiveness (along with the other iPhone models still available) is expected to be enhanced further this fall with the release of iOS 6, a new beta of which was released earlier today.
Should Apple unveil a new (and likely redesigned) iPhone in September as rumored, it's unclear if it would keep the older models -- and if so, which ones -- in production. A recent report has the "entire" iOS line switching to a new, smaller dock connector along with the as-yet-unannounced new iPhone, but whether the use of the term "entire" refers to older models that could be revamped or strictly to a slew of rumored new versions of iPods, iPhones and iPads remains unclear.