Apple finally sells iPhone 3G online

Move may be an inventory-clearing measure as new models near, says analyst

Apple on Wednesday started selling its iPhone 3G online, the first time in a year that consumers have been able to get their hands on the device without making a trip to an Apple retail store or buying from AT&T.

Only customers new to the mobile carrier, however, can complete the entire purchasing process online.

"Apple always wants to drive sales, and they're probably also clearing out inventory," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst for Technology Business Research. Apple sold the first-generation iPhone online -- as well as at retail -- from June 2007 to when supplies were exhausted in May 2008 and let buyers activate the device using iTunes.

But when the iPhone 3G debuted last July, it was sold only at Apple and AT&T retail outlets, where it was activated before the customer left the store. That move was prompted, most analysts agreed, by the extensive "jailbreaking" of the original iPhone, and the corresponding revenue loss to AT&T.

In September 2008, however, Apple let customers reserve an iPhone 3G online, then head to a store to pick it up and activate the phone. AT&T followed suit in December by selling iPhone 3Gs online, letting users activate it later -- and at home -- for the first time.

In lieu of online ordering of the iPhone during last year's holiday selling season, Apple only had iPhone gift cards to offer.

The new online order page warns consumers that only customers new to AT&T can complete the process entirely online, and tells people with existing AT&T accounts that they will still need to pick up the device at an Apple store.

"The move also might be connected to the rumors, which sound logical, that Apple and AT&T will swing some kind of plan price reduction," added Gottheil, linking the new online availability to an inventory-clearance move by Apple.

In the first calendar quarter of 2009, Apple sold 3.8 million iPhones, a number significantly higher than many analysts' projections.

Apple, which previewed iPhone 3.0 in March, is expected to introduce one or more new iPhone models this summer, perhaps as early as June 8 when the company kicks off its annual developers conference.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags AppleiPhoneiphone 3g

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?