Monday, June 18, 2007
How to get an iPhone for $99 without getting friend referrals or signing up for 2,123 offers.
At the end of this post I will explain to you how you can save $300-$400 on an iPhone. If that's all you care about, start scrolling.
I want an effing iPhone so badly that I have become completely irrational about it. I am emotionally committed to a gadget I have never seen in person. I don't know anybody that has seen it, and chances are it will barely even function where I live. (no AT&T in Montana)
$599 for the 8GB model doesn't even make me flinch. I typically have buyer's remorse after any purchase over $40 (even dinner) and I am ready to shell out $600 for a product that I really don't know anything about at this point. (other than what the almighty Steve Jobs has told us)
Financial analysts seem to think I'm not alone. Equity research analyst Mike McCormack has estimated that nearly 1 million customers will leave their cellular provider in order to get an iPhone with AT&T wireless (the wireless company formerly known as Cingular). Research and investment firm PiperJaffray has predicted iPhone's yearly sales to grow into a 45 million unit per year business by 2009. And in their 13th biannual study of teen shopping behavior and brand preferences, PiperJaffray found that 84 percent of the students surveyed had heard of Apple's iPhone and 25 percent said they would pay $500 for the iPhone.
So what is so great about the iPhone? Who cares. It's an iPhone, it's made by Apple. It has really cool marketing and they are releasing it at 6pm (local time) on a Friday night so you can show up at your favorite watering hole with your semi-charged iPhone.
Seriously though... the lack of GPS or 3G doesn't bother me. The iPhone could run on diesel fuel and I wouldn't hesitate. Whatever Apple decided is fine with me. After all, I have been listening to Steve Jobs since I was a kid. Everything he has told me to buy has made me happy and cool. (and my friends jealous- at least until they bought their own)
Some of you may remember that the other contributor to this blog is not an apple user. Yes, he says he's a "PC guy". Well, except for his iPod he's a PC guy. Earlier this year Apple dropped "computer" from its name. Apple is a consumer electronics company and most "PC guys" and girls I know are "Apple" users in one way or another. (ipod, itunes, or an apple computer)
Matt is probably calling himself a PC guy because he is smart And it turns out the most famous PC Guy is extremely smart. (and not-surprisingly a "mac guy") In fact, the "PC Guy" kinda sorta has ties to the name of our blog. (in a round-about kinda sorta way) He is a contributor to McSweeneys.net.
Anyway, smart guys like Matt are not going to line up on June 29th to buy an iPhone. They don't make emotional commitments to buy things without ever reading a review or trying one out first. However, guys like me... well, we do. And like anything, there is a smart way to do it, and a not so smart way.
I am going to keep you all updated on my iPhone purchase from now until I have used the product for a few months (and reviewed it on this blog). I know you are thinking there is nothing to report right now, as I can't purchase one until June 29th.... however, the process has already begun. There are several obstacles I must overcome to get an iPhone, and I'm going to tell explain to you how I do it.
Obstacle #1: I live in BFE and AT&T does not provide service here
Because Montana does not have AT&T service, I am living in the state that Apple forgot. Montana is CDMA territory and Verizon has a pretty good hold on the cellular business around these parts. Fortunately, there is a company that is changing all of that. Chinook Wireless has been building a GSM network that will allow AT&T customers to roam in Montana. (or Montanan's to buy Chinook Wireless service- without the iPhone)
So if I can get AT&T service using an out-of-state address I can roam in Montana. Unfortunately the AT&T coverage map shows that while they have roaming coverage in Montana, the "EDGE" network (high speed network) does not work in Montana. I can only hope this is not true as I know Chinook's GSM network is an EDGE network, although it may be that AT&T customers don't have access to the EDGE capabilities while roaming.
Obstacle #2 - Out of state phone number
With an out-of-state address listed as my primary use location, I will be stuck with an out-of-state phone number. This wouldn't matter except that my place of employment would probably question my logic. They pay for my cell phone, and I highly doubt they would want to pay for me to have a long distance phone number. (and business cards printed up with a California number)
This is where VOIP comes in. I can port my current local # to Vonage and then set up Vonage to forward all calls to my new California #. I have to sign up for Vonage service (at $25/month) and then forwarding and long distance is free. That way my clients/friends/etc. can call my current local Verizon # and they will actually be calling my future AT&T California #.
Obstacle #3 - No contract/upgrade discount on the iPhone (how to save hundreds of $$$)
$599 with a 2 year service agreement. You know how when you sign up for a 2 year contract you typically get a huge discount on your phone? Yeah, well not with the iPhone. AT&T is selling it at full retail price, so that 2 year contract gets you nothing. Customers who qualify for an upgrade and customers who don't will all pay the same exact price.
So if you are planning on purchasing an iPhone, and you either qualify for an AT&T upgrade or you will be a new AT&T customer, you must take advantage of their discounts. Most of their phones are offered at significant discounts with a 2 year contract, and this can be transferred to the iPhone.
All you do is purchase a phone, like the Blackberry Curve ($99 with a new contract through Amazon) and sell it on Ebay "new in box". You can then apply your $300-$400 profit towards the iPhone. So if you profit $400, and you buy the $499 iPhone... that's an iPhone for the low price of $99!
I ordered my Curve and new AT&T service yesterday and I expect it to arrive on Wednesday. I'll keep you posted on how things go and what my final cost is for my 8GB iPhone.