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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AppleiPhoneiphone 3g

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

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?