By Jim Karpen on Fri, 09/13/2013
Apple generally exerts tight control over the price retailers charge for Apple products, but in a somewhat unprecedented move is allowing Wal-Mart to sell the new phones at a discount. You can get the 16GB iPhone 5C for $79 (regularly $99) with contract and the iPhone 5S for $189 (regularly $199). According to AppleInsider, the iPhone 5C will be available for preorder in-store at that price beginning September 13. But if you're in the market for a 5S, you'll need to wait and buy one in the store on September 20.
In addition, Wal-Mart will begin offering a trade-in program for your old phone when you buy a new one beginning on September 21. Depending on the condition of your phone, you could get as much as $300. To take advantage of the low price for the new iPhones, you must activate your phone in the store with your options being Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, or Walmart's pre-paid wireless service.
Why would Apple break precedent and allow discounted phones? An article by 24/7 Wall St. speculates that given the increasing market for smartphones among cost-conscious consumers, Apple may be reconsidering is rigid tradition of premium pricing, and is perhaps using this as an experiment to see how many additional phones might be sold to these price-sensitive customers if the price is lowered. This experiment, the article says, is significant because of Apple's desire to sell more phones in China and other emerging economies.
Of course, they may also be seeking to goose demand on opening day in order to make sure the phones get off to a strong start.
Apple's stock fell significantly after their announcement on Tuesday, and the word was that Wall Street had expected the iPhone 5C to come out in the price range of $350–400. Analysts felt this price would make the phone appealing in emerging markets and boost sales. But reports said that they were disappointed by the high price; especially since carriers in other countries offer phones without a contract and charge the full price of the phone up front rather than subsidizing it. Analysts said the $550 price is too high.
Apple's Wal-Mart move suggests the company may eventually be more flexible on price.