At Wal-Mart, iPhone costs only $97

Forget the Apple Store. A Wal-Mart iPhone 3G S goes for under a hundred bucks, according to a new report.

Apple has given Wal-Mart permission to sell the iPhone 3G S at a bargain basement price. But as any good geek knows, a Wal-Mart iPhone could only become a reality if a new iPhone was on the way.

No, the big box giant isn't releasing a specially-branded Wal-Mart iPhone. But Wal-Mart will soon offer the Apple iPhone 3G S – at a bargain-basement price. According to company reps, the Wal-Mart iPhone will go for $97, more than $100 off the current $199 price tag. "It is our commitment to always lead on price," Wal-Mart's Mehrdad Akbar says in a statement released to the press today.

Under a hundred bucks for an iPhone 3G S! Not bad. (The usual stipulations apply: To get the phone, you'll need to purchase a 2-year voice and data plan from AT&T, which has weathered its fair share of service-related problems.) And to judge by the tempest stirred up on the Web this afternoon, the discounted price will be a hit with consumers.

But read between the lines: Why would Apple allow Wal-Mart to sell a sub-$100 iPhone 3G S? Well – and we're speaking hypothetically here – perhaps Apple is no longer placing priority on the iPhone 3G S. Could it be that Apple is close to releasing a new iPhone? An iPhone that would make the 3G S look old-fashioned?

Over the past few months, the tech press has been consumed by a game of Apple Rumor Volleyball. Some bloggers have said that the Apple iPhone 4G will be unveiled at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Others have argued that Apple will eventually open up the latest iteration of the iPhone to Verizon Wireless and Sprint. And then there are those who say that AT&T has locked in Apple for the next few years.

What does the Wal-Mart iPhone say about Apple's plans? You tell us. Share your thoughts in the comments.

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