"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages."
-- From As You Like It, by William Shakespeare
Indeed, Willie. And Steve Jobs likes to direct the action whenever possible.
Telecom veteran AT&T
Of course, this is still just a rumor, as Apple hasn't even announced a 3G phone yet, but if Fortune's sources turn out to be right, it's a rather audacious grab for market share from old Ma Bell. The discount would not apply if you bought the phone at an Apple store, so the telecom would effectively steal some retail sales from the very partner that supplies the hot product in the first place.
Now, the current iPhone already sells out about as fast as Apple's manufacturing partners can make 'em. We've even seen outright shortages (albeit not as severe as the chronic Nintendo Wii imbalance), which tells me that AT&T shouldn't need to lower prices at all. Any inventory it can get will basically sell, end of story.
Get to the point, already!
Unless, of course, the next iteration would be sold through multiple carriers. If AT&T has to put up with competition from Verizon
Of course, the real winner in this scenario is Apple. I'd call the AT&T-only era a test run, designed to drum up an appetite for the gadget and see how the market responds. Then you turn on the manufacturing faucet at full blast and open up to the entire market. Another brilliant marketing move by Steve Jobs is in the works.
Again, it's all conjecture at this point. But with the Google