∞ AT&T: 'tremendous, tremendous demand' for iPhone 3GS

With the iPhone 3GS now available for free with new cell phone contracts, are people still interested in the aging device? After all, the 3GS has been on the market for more than two years, eclipsed by the iPhone 4 and, most recently, the 4S. Turns out the answer is an emphatic yes, according to AT&T.

AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega said in a statement that the iPhone 4S is selling like hotcakes. But in a discussion with analysts to talk about AT&T’s most recent financial report, de la Vega is also very positive about the contributions Apple’s iPhone 3GS continues to make to his company’s bottom line.

In a Q&A with analysts, de la Vega said:

I also mentioned in my notes that we have another device that I think is going to dramatically change those people that are on smartphones and quick messaging devices, the 3GS, which is free with a 2-year contract. We’ve seen a tremendous, tremendous demand for that device even though it’s a generation old. And actually, we’re getting more new subscribers coming on the 3GS on the average than other devices. So we also have an inventory sold out on that device. So I’m very, very optimistic on what the fourth quarter is going to look like in terms of smartphone growth.

  • Anonymous

    How can this be? The 4 is a year and a half old or so, and that model is way past its prime. So the 3GS must be even worse. Look at that screen! Look at that processor! The design is now over three years old. The specs on this phone are horrendous.

    I tell you, slap an Apple logo on anything and sheeple will buy it. All hail the Church of Jobs. Have some kool-aid.

    • How can this be?

      Maybe it’s the best smartphone that you can get for free with a contract.

      • Anonymous

        But people should not — nay, will not — use a phone that is so far behind the times. The jig is up: people will wake up and see they’ve got an old phone with crappy specs that they can’t do what they want with it.

        This time Apple is really doomed! Doomed I tell you! DOOOOOOOOOOMED!

        • So you’re saying that the millions of people who are buying the 3GS are morons, but that you’re not?

          There is a word that describes the state of someone who thinks they are the only intelligent person while everyone else in the world are morons… “insanity”.

          • Anonymous

            Everyone driving faster than I is a maniac. And everyone driving slower than I is an idiot. It’s a wonder I get anywhere at all, with all the idiots and maniacs on the roads!

            Insane? Insane am I? Not only do Apple “devotees” convince themselves that they are only looking for quality experience rather than status, but they’re even failing at the status part! Where is the status without buzzwords? WHERE ARE THE BUZZWORDS???? “Siri”? Anthropomorphic nonsense. “Retina display?” Marketing doublespeak. What about buzzwords that mean something: “4G networking.” “Larger display.” “Ice cream sandwich.” “Real multitasking.” These are terms that MEAN something.

            iPhone? Bah! Humbug!

          • Anonymous

            That is genius satire of the frothing at the mouth phandroids.

            At least I hope it is ;D

          • Anonymous

            Gosh, I hope so too. I’d hate to lose myself in the character and not find my way out again. Unless the “Android me” has more hair.

            (btw I know it’s wrong, I know it doesn’t have anything to do with any technological merits, I know I should be above it, I want to be above it, gosh darn it I am above it…but I’m having a hard time taking something seriously called “Ice cream sandwich”)

          • Anonymous

            You don’t need to because ICS isn’t anything serious, it’s another round in the saga of “Google poorly copying Apple.”

          • Anonymous

            Hahaha!! You think “Ice Cream Sandwich” is a term that MEANS SOMETHING?!? Surely you jest! Your self-deprecating comedy’s hilarious.

          • Jim

            Of course ice-cream sandwich means something,  it is two chocolate cookies with ice-cream sandwiched between them,  sold for many years under the Eskimo Pie brand name and still is,  but now you can buy economy versions much cheaper from food stores and Google!

          • Anonymous

            Self-depreciating, if you please. I can claim that on my taxes.

          • Jim

            Unfortunately experience is really far more important than speed.  You can have the fastest processor in the world in a phone but if the experience of using the phone makes it a nightmare to use then it is not any better than a phone running a slower processor but with a sleek well written and optimized operating system.

            Realistically you do not need true multitasking in a phone environment!  In fact this is one of the biggest affectors of battery life, the more tasks are running in the background the more the processor runs and the harder it is on the battery.    It has enough to cope with when it is operating the phone radio system which really does have to operate in the background all the time without it running a multitute of extra frivolous tasks.

            Let it run true multitasking on the few important features and then use ‘faux’ multitasking for all others.

            As for Ice-cream sandwich,  I think you get a better deal going to the freezer section and getting a big value pack box of them than paying for the eskimo pie brand with only 6 in the box.

            4G networking is only important in areas where there is LTE and then it is still not 4G yet!  It won’t be 4G until it gets the speed and ability to operately purely in a VOIP environment.

            Larger display?  said it before and say it again,  if you need a bigger display buy a magnifying glass,  big display doesn’t make things in real life any bigger!  Ask your missus?

            Retina Display is simply marketing for a resolution high enough where you do not get the blocky look from text when you zoom in.    Below a certain number of pixels per inch it will show rough edges and blockiness.  Not a big deal and that is why the 3GS is still a good value phone!

          • Anonymous

            Oh the lengths Apple users will go to justify “user experience.”

        • Hilarious.

          • Anonymous


        • 1 B

          It seems people actually will use a phone that is “so far behind the times.”

          As for “crappy specs,” I think you’re betraying your ignorance. Hardware specifications don’t make a phone. The overall experience and utility is what counts. There are plenty of Android phones that look better on paper but have been trounced by the iPhone because specs don’t matter.

          I can’t tell if you’re just goofing off or are truly serious, given your last paragraph. Regardless, anyone who truly thinks Apple is doomed needs to look at the company’s financials.

          • Anonymous

            Eh, financials schminancials. Apple failed to meet the Street’s expectations. The little darling has sprouted its first (of many) warts. It’s the beginning of the end. Now that the analysts who know better and see through the weak smokescreen of Apple’s “guidance” are ready to hold their feet to the fire, the curtain will be thrown back and find there is in fact no engineering wizardry, just a marketing team frantically rubbing its prayer beads.

          • Anonymous

            Apple’s been doomed for 30 years.

    • Scott

      June 2009, so 2.3 years. BTW – This is an excellent strategy for Apple, offering the latest iOS on largest number of devices for the largest number of users. 20% iOS 5 adoption rate in just 10 days!

    • Jessejohnson7777@yahoo.com

      Returned my atrix after 3 weeks. 3GS 2 mp camera is better and faster. No force closes on iPhone. I deal in phones, as everyone says. Specs don’t matter. iOS is just a better os as far as performance. 2ghz processing power on atrix and more ram. 600 MHz on 3GS, still moves at very near the same speed.

      • Jim

        This is the perfect point.

        It doesn’t matter what the processor is or the speed of the processor, if the OS is not optimized for the design of the hardware it will not run to it’s full potentional.

        iOS is designed to operate perfectly with any of the hardware currently available for purchase even in 5.0,  it is optimized to allow it to work and because Apple also produce the hardware there are no unexpected variables that affect its’ ability to work at the optimal performance available to it.  While iOS 5.0 may run slower than it does on the 4 or 4s it still runs better than many newer phones. 

        This is why the 3GS is still in production and still being sold.  If it was not the case then it would not be allowed to

        A.  Upgrade to iOS 5.0

        B  Would have been discontinued because it was no longer able to run iOS 5.0.

    • Stick a sock in it. I’m still using a first generation iPhone (even older than the 3GS) that I bought years ago and haven’t upgraded yet–and it continues to work very well, makes calls, surfs the web, gets email, runs apps, doesn’t crash and gives me a great user experience … A LOT of people want the iPhone because it works so well and is very reliable, and now that they can get one for FREE, what’s not to like. Just because it’s not the very latest thing doesn’t mean it’s suddenly crap. Consumers were complaining that Apple should make a cheap iPhone so they could afford to have one, so I’d think you’d be congratulating Apple for working that out.

      • Jos

        Look up sarcasm in the dictionary. Then read his comments again.

      • Anonymous

        Stick a sock in it? A lot of people use the iPhone because they just don’t know any better. Apple says “jump” and they ask “how high?”

        The huge (and ever-growing) population of Android users understand what it means to think about the technology they’re buying. The discriminating public doesn’t even need to consider Apple. Just buy the lastest Android phone and know that they’re getting the cutting edge.

    • Most people don’t need the newest. Good, proven quality works just fine, especially when its free with a normal contract.

    • Jim

      For many, especially now, it is a low cost entry into iOS and still a great phone,  was a good phone for $49.99 from AT&T but now for free  from AT&T it is a marvelous phone and gives people a taste of iOS and then in two years time it makes them think about upgrading to a newer model of the iphone. 

      I would hardly say that the iPhone 4 is past its’ prime,  it still competes with many of the Android devices out there and have as many of the features as the 4s model has.

      Certainly when it comes to value for money the 3gs is a great phone.   So what it if it has a lower resolution screen,  a slower processor.  It’s still just as good as a blackberry for features!

    • Mc4o1993

      maybe it’s their first smart phone? maybe it’s an android person who wants to “try” an iphone (and I mean that literally, you can take the 3GS SIM and put it in another handset)

    • james Katt

      For teenagers, the 3GS is still a great phone.  Teenagers don’t need the latest camera in a phone nor the fastest phone.  Teenagers need a phone to send over 3000 text messages a month – just ask my daughters.  Teenagers like the fact you can customize the iPhone 3GS with a personalized case. Some cases are so robust, the phone can be practically indestructible.

      Parents like the fact that the iPhone 3GS is FREE.  And add it to a family plan, and the cost of a great smartphone for their teenagers and younger kids is almost free.  

      The iPhone 3Gs a fantastic bargain that will last for years!

    • $390AShareIsTrulyExciting!}:-D

      All it proves is that a 3-year old iPhone is in greater demand than a brand new Android smartphone.  So what?  If that’s what the consumer wants, then what’s the big deal.  No one is forcing consumers to buy Apple products and keep them coming back.  Not every consumer in the world wants to use Android OS.  Maybe they’d just prefer Apple support or the iOS ecosystem.  I guess the number of iSheeple in the world must be growing rapidly.

      Stepping up from a low-end feature phone to a 3GS could still be a improvement for the casual user.  There are six-month old Android smartphones selling for a $0.01 with a 2-year contract.  Think of how crappy those smartphones must be if they’re practically giving them away in such a short time.  Android smartphones just don’t hold any value.  Eventually it will come to light that most Android smartphone users wanted an iPhone all along, but just couldn’t afford the upfront cost of buying one and had to settle for some crappy Android device.

  • Pretty interesting considering the ~$2000 service plan a customer pays during the course of their contract. I guess the psychological impact of “free” is pretty big for the average consumer.

    • People will pay the ~$2000 service plan regardless of what phone they purchase, so I don’t think that has anything to do with it. I used my 3GS until now, and it didn’t all of a sudden stop functioning just because a newer model came out. Heck, eBay instant buy paid me $132 for my 3GS, so that means they expect to still turn a profit off that.

      • Anonymous

        I think you’ve hit on the correct issue: that the contract is what the contract is and is not unique to iPhone. Getting the contract is part of getting a smartphone at all. That’s a constant cost. Once you’ve decided that that’s a price you’re willing to pay for any phone that consumes all that data, then “free” definitely means something after that.

        For existing smartphone customers, the free means something. It’s only for consumers that don’t currently use a smartphone at all, those are the ones that have more to chew on.

        • We still can’t justify the monthly cost of a voice + data contract for either of our phones, considering our usage. Hoping Apple’s slow-but-steady takedown of carrier power continues.

        • Jos

          Not entirely true. I don’t know what it’s like in the US but in a lot of other countries iPhones are sold with plans that are different (read more expensive) than the regular plans.

    • Jim

      and your point is?

      I think most of the same costs for service plans also apply to Android and Windows Phones and of course Blackberry phones?

      • The point is that it’s funny people will jump into an expensive smartphone contract because the device is free. When you’re committing to ~$80/month, what’s an extra $100 or $200 for a newer device?

  • Apple just needs to be sure not to send out an update to the 3GS that’s going to cripple it like they did with the 3G. That would be some bad PR given how many people are taking these free phones.

  • “Free” still gets certain people in the door, whether it’s actually free or not. I love it that older models are still being sold at a discount alongside the new.

    This adds the 3GS to the iPod touch as Apple’s iOS “gateway drug” for curious new potential customers.

    • His Shadow

      A yep. 90+% satisfaction will almost certainly ensure iPhone 3GS buyers will be getting iPhone 5Ses.

      • Anonymous

        You mean 4Ses, yes? And then two years from now, they’ll be ready for 5Ses (which will be competing with Android 6.0 Kettlekorn). And then two years later, 6Ses (vs. Android 8.0 Marshmallow)…etc.

        • You’re lisping a bit, lk. Wipe your chin. There’s a good lad.

          • Anonymous

            Thufferin’ thucotash.

  • As soon as the unlocked 3GS came out I bought one to replace my jailbroken iPhone 2G on T-Mobile. The 3GS’ price is an attraction, as is not having to run all the *snow hacks to run on an alternate GSM carrier. Like my previous iPhone on T-Mobile, it’s just running on EDGE, but when your family plan and your data plan combined are less than what the other carriers offer for an individual plan, the 3GS is a frugal solution for those of us that can’t afford the latest and greatest.

  • Anonymous

    May the 4-S be with you.

  • Londonmarlo

    To all the ani-Apple assholes out there, I am using iphone 3GS. I will upgrade to iphone 5 next year. The old iphone still does the job.

  • Jwcaldwell

    You miss the big point here the 3gs rocks and is very Jail breakable! A whole world of apps in a beautifully designed phone.