Apple begins iPhone 4 Case Program: apply for your free case or Bumper now

Well, there's nothing like masking bad news with good news, right Apple? Just moments after quietly announcing that the white iPhone 4 is now scheduled to ship sometime between tomorrow and your New Year's Eve party, the company has also fired up its iPhone 4 Case Program. Just as Jobs promised last week at an emergency press event, this program will ensure that anyone who purchases an iPhone 4 prior to September 30th will be able to receive an iPhone 4 Bumper or select third-party case from the company at no charge. 'Course, you need to be located in a country or territory that Apple actually ships to, but if that's all squared away, feel free to hit up the App Store to download the iPhone 4 Case Program app. Once there, you'll need to sign into your iTunes Store account, select your Bumper or case and wait oh-so-patiently (read: "3 to 5 weeks"). Better hurry -- wouldn't want the servers to get overloaded, now would we?

Oh, and if you happened to have already purchased a Bumper, the company should be hitting your credit card with a full refund (including any applicable taxes and shipping) momentarily. As for the case / Bumper choices? Every single option is available in any color you like... so long as it's black, of course. There's a black Apple Bumper option, an Incase Snap Case, Belkin Shield Micra, Griffin Motif, Griffin Reveal, Speck Fitted and Speck PixelSkin HD, but again, don't go in hoping to select your favorite hue. Yeah, you're free to bicker about free things -- we won't judge.

Update: If you're one of those wise guys who purchased an iPhone 4 right away just to sell it, you can forget about getting a free case for the handset you no longer own. Apple has arranged this so that only one case can be ordered per iPhone 4, so even if you ordered two under your account name, you'll need two phones to place both of those orders. Check out the error message below if you still don't believe us. %Gallery-98074%