Walmart Dropping the iPhone to Just $97

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The phone that changed everything is now available for pocket change, relatively speaking.

On Monday, Walmart announced that the 16GB 3GS is now being stickered at just $97, a move designed to shift stagnant inventory.  Next month, Apple is widely expected to deliver its fourth-generation phone, and current-generation sales are sagging as a result.

This is a typical part of the release schedule for Apple, one that features aggressive upgrade cycles.  Outside of product enhancements, the ‘latest-and-greatest’ is a conversation piece; the older model is mainly just a yawner.  In that context, a deep-dive on price is required to entice more practical buyers.  “It is our commitment to always lead on price,” one Walmart executive relayed.  A two-year AT&T commitment is still required.

Either way, this is a pricing moment to be savored.  The iPod experienced a similar, sub-$100 moment, and its ubiquity was cemented by price accessibility.  In the smartphone market, the game is quite a bit more competitive, though Apple is still ramping aggressively.  Last quarter, 8.3 million iPhones were sold, double the volume from last year.

Report by Alexandra Osorio.