The iPhone has received plenty of well-deserved (and plenty of not-so-well-deserved) hype and press over the past year or so, but one of the key points that Apple tried to make when it launched was that a premium phone deserved a premium price -- and people would pay for it, even without a massive subsidy from a mobile operator, as is typical of other phones. And, while there definitely was a huge crush of Apple fans who had to buy the iPhone early, the fact that Steve Jobs quickly
lopped $200 off the price, just months after it was introduced, suggested that the number of people willing to pay that kind of premium wasn't as much as expected. In today's keynote, as was widely predicted
, Jobs launched the new 3G iPhones with another $200 cut off the price, so the base model with 8gigs is now $199 -- down into the range of your typical subsidized smartphone.
While the iPhone has done plenty to get people to rethink mobile interfaces, it seems clear that Apple may have initially misjudged how people would respond to premium-priced phones. Jobs had promised 10 million iPhones sold in the first 18 months, and has reached about 5 million in the first 12 months (nothing to sneeze at, obviously). However, to get up to that 10 million number, he had to drop the price to be competitive with other phones. It's a smart move (though, it's not clear if the $199 is subsidized or not), given the market conditions, but beyond the lessons that everyone will talk about concerning Steve Jobs' strategy in launching the iPhone, the most interesting of all may be how the initial pricing structure backfired -- but was changed so quickly.