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AT&T to slash 3G iPhone price to beat unlockers?

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AT&T is to follow the example of O2 in the UK and Germany's T-Mobile and chop the price of the iPhone. But not the current model - it's going to subsidise the anticipated 3G version to the tune of $200.

So claims a Fortune magazine report citing a single source.

The $200 discount will take the price of an 8GB 3G iPhone to $199, it's said, implying the new version will be a direct replacement for the two current iPhones. The 16GB 3G iPhone is said to have been priced at $499 before the subsidy.

The discount is almost certainly an attempt not only to draw more users to AT&T's network, but also a strike against buyers who plan to unlock the new handset and use it with another network. The subsidy makes the price of the handset plus the airtime package more attractive. It's tied to a two-year monthly airtime contract.

AT&T's deal will kick in when the 3G iPhone is launched, almost certainly in June, a couple of weeks after its anticipated announcement at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off on 9 June.

Fortune's mole maintains Apple will stop shipping the existing iPhone round about then. The Deep Throat also claimed the iPhone will be 21 per cent thinner than the original, despite packing GPS technology as well as 3G.

Last week, it emerged that Carphone Warehouse and O2's plan to discount the price of the 8GB iPhone by £100 has already caused them to sell all their remaining stocks of the handset.

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