It was inevitable. One day the iPhone was going to turn into an impulse purchase. In two short years we've gone from the iPhone as a serious $500 commitment to a grab no more expensive than dinner and a movie. The AT&T store now has a refurbished 8GB iPhone 3G for $79, with free two-day shipping, a $20 savings over the cost of a factory-new iPhone 3G. (You'll have to enter your zip code on that landing page to click through and see the refurbished unit's price.)
Of course, your dinner doesn't make you return every month for two years, for a total outlay well over $2000. However, most people now consider cell phone plans -- even their associated data plans -- to be as utilitarian as the electric bill. So scoring a small hand held computer with a phone function on a whim just seems... as benignly impulsive as going out to dinner and a movie.
Ahh, the good ol' days. When people stood in lines to spend $499 (or, in my case, $599) just for the chance, nay, privilege of owning one of these. And back then it didn't even have iFart applications on it.