As brilliant as the $99 subsidized iPhone 3G strategy might seem on paper, the fact remains that the 3G now is a 13 month-old device -- the better part of a lifetime by smartphone standards -- and it stands to reason that Apple wouldn't be interested in consuming manufacturing capacity indefinitely with outdated equipment, especially since that game plan cuts into economies of scale on the 3GS' chipset and superior camera hardware. The solution? Let iPhone 3G inventory cool down for a few months -- $99 is a nice, round number after all that's plenty low enough to move units -- and when the carnage is over, phase it out in favor of a new lower-cost 3GS. That's sure to leave new 3G owners fuming, but newly leaked screens out of Rogers seem to indicate that's exactly how this is likely going to go down: add a black 8GB 3GS into the mix that can serve as the company's new entry-level device below the 3GS in two colors, likely for $100 less than the 16GB model. There's no word on when this might happen, but Apple's likely to host its usual Fall event to roll out new iPods (and more?), so this could serve as an interesting -- if not ultimately predictable -- footnote.

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