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Test ad hints at lower iPhone prices

But don't pee your pants yet!

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At least two blogs are carrying images of test advertisement that price Apple's iPhone for as low as $299, leading to speculation the much-vaunted gadget may sell for significantly less than Steve Jobs announced last month.

The ad priced the 4GB iPhone at $299 and the 8GB model at $399. That would represent a discount of 40 percent and 33 percent off the $499 and $599 stickers that Jobs presented at last month's Macworld.

It's still too early for Mac fiends to celebrate. The image was part of a survey designed to gauge reader reaction, according to the two blogs. There's no indication the iPhone will actually sell for those prices when they become available in the US in June and Europe in the fourth quarter.

Another reason to doubt the price change is the amateur design of the graphics. It shows a model blabbing not into an iPhone but a banal flip phone. The placement of the graphics are awkward and the fonts aren't very pleasing to look at either.

Of course, even some Apple die-hards have balked at the iPhone's stratospheric price tags. A cut may be its only chance of preventing a premature demise. ®

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