After market failure with their previous marketing efforts, Apple will now be selling the new iPhone 3G through stores the same as other cell phones. EG, Apple sells the phones to ATT, O2, etc, who resells them to you and I along with a service plan. ATT discounts the cost to us of the iPhone (or any other cell phone) based on the revenue they receive on the service plan. The longer the plan we commit to the more they subsidize the hardware purchase. Unlike the previous plan, Apple will no longer share in ATT revenue, they’ll just sell them the phones like everyone else.
Unlocked? Possibly. ATT long ago realized that locking phones was of little or no benefit to them and that they were loosing customers who frequently travel outside the US. For some time ATT has had a policy of unlocking phones upon request 30 days after purchase. After all, they already have us locked in to a service plan and unlocking only benefits about 1% of us anyway.
Will they do the same with iPhones?
I’ll bet they will. Phone locking was always a cell carrier issue to prevent people from switching providers or in hopes of gaining roaming revenue. Mfr’s (except Apple) prefer that they not be locked since locking limits their market. Service plan terms take care of the provider switching and the roaming revenue never materialized as heavy travelers like myself just carry an extra unlocked phone so that we can use our localized SIMs.
My son and a number of other international students hope they get unlocked. They all want iPhones, but Apple’s unlock policy prevented them from buying them since the iPhone would effectively be a brick for the months each year they are in a different country than where they purchased them.