In what may be a sign that AT&T exclusivity for the iPhone is on its last legs, Steve Jobs announced yesterday that AT&T will be offering accelerated upgrade eligibility for iPhone owners. In other words, if you’re eligible for an iPhone upgrade anytime in 2010, you are automatically eligible for an upgrade today and can purchase the iPhone 4 at the same subsidized $199 and $299 pricepoints if you sign up for another 2-year contract. Users who otherwise attempt to upgrade to a new iPhone before their 2-year contract expires often have to pay the non-subsidized price which, in the case of the iPhone 4 32GB model, checks in at $499.
With Verizon rumored to be getting the iPhone as soon as November 2010, and in 2011 at the latest, this may very well be a preemptive move from AT&T to rope in as many potential defectors as possible into a new 2-year contract.
In a press release on the matter, AT&T stated:
We know that people are eager to get iPhone 4, which is why we moved up the upgrade eligibility date for current iPhone customers by up to six months. This move, combined with the new wireless data plans we announced last week, will make it more affordable for more people to purchase an iPhone and enjoy the benefits of the mobile Internet.
And below is AT&T’s updated iPhone 4 pricing chart.