Well, the iPhone's now out, and it's pretty darn popular. Unfortunately, it's also pretty darn expensive. At $500 for the 4GB version and $600 for the 8GB model, the iPhone's steep price is enough to keep many gadget hounds away from the Apple-y goodness. Waiting a year or two for the iPhone's second or third iterations might be the best course of action. While purely speculation, it's a fairly safe bet that future versions of the iPhone will cost less and offer more features than the first iPhone.
Last year, Apple Matters published an article detailing the historical prices of the iPod, from the first scroll wheel version to the current, fifth-generation model. Everymac.com keeps detailed records of the system specs and prices of nearly every major Apple system. Using these two sites, we can see just how Apple products have changed in price and features.
The first iPod came in 5GB and 10GB versions, for $400 and $500 each. They used a monochrome screen and a mechanical wheel, and could display neither photos nor movies. Today, a 30GB iPod can be had for just $250, and a whopping 80GB iPod for just $350. Just six years after the first iPod was released, you can pick up a color, video-playing model with three times the storage for half the price, or eight times the storage for just $100 more than that.
The first iMac came out in 1998. It had a 15-inch CRT display, a 233 Mhz G3 processor, and 32 MB of RAM, all for the low price of $1,300. Now you can pick up an iMac with a 17-inch LCD, a 1.83 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a gigabyte of RAM, and a remote control for $1,100.
When the iBook came out in 1999, it offered a 300 Mhz G3 processor and 64 MB of RAM for $1600. Today, you can pick up a 2.0 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook with a gigabyte of RAM for $1,100.
A year before the iBook came out, Apple released the PowerBook, a business-end notebook with the same 300 Mhz G3 processor and 64 MB RAM as its consumer-oriented successor. It cost a hefty $4,500. A MacBook Pro can be had for just $2,000, with a 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2 GB of RAM. Even with all the trimmings (4GB of RAM, 250 GB SATA hard drive, and high-resolution, wide-screen display), the MacBook Pro "only" costs $3,800.
The iPhone is the first of its kind, and Apple is going to keep working on newer, better, and cheaper versions. The cutting edge might be fun, but it's also expensive. In a year or two, maybe we'll see 3G iPhones for $400 or less.