The rumors have really flown this time. The iPhone 3G did not make it to Wal-Mart by the November 15th date previously reported here. However, it is now confirmed the product will be hitting shelves by the end of December. Some say the store is aiming for a pre-Christmas launch, others expect the iPhone to start selling there on December 28th.
Training materials distributed to Wal-Mart employees have pricing of the 8GB iPhone set at $197. However, employees have described a $99 4GB model to reporters at the New York Post and the San Jose Mercury News. Could it be a total fabrication?
Nothing in the Wal-Mart training materials mentions a $99 model. Apple and Wal-Mart are silent on the issue. However, reports have noted that in October Steve Jobs himself discussed how competitors might take advantage of the iPhone's higher price. The 4GB iPhone was abandoned only months after its initial release.
It is possible a 4GB model could be announced at the Macworld Expo in January. This might boost Apple's market share, although it would divert some consumers away from purchasing iPods and larger capacity iPhone models. Even if the hardware price drops to $99, AT&T and Apple both stand to make more money from new subscribers to data plans, iTunes, and the App Store.