Later this month, you’ll be able to walk into an Apple Store and purchase an iPhone through a carrier financing plan. That’s according to 9to5 Mac’s Mark Gurman, who suggests an August 20 start date for the program.
While you could always take advantage of an eligible carrier upgrade subsidy and pay far less than full retail price for a new iPhone(s aapl), the change reflects new promotions from U.S. carriers over the past 18 months. T-Mobile(s tmus) led the way by abolishing both service contracts and hardware subsidies in March 2013, allowing customers to finance their handsets over 20 months. AT&T(s t) and Verizon(s vz) followed, offering lower rates for off-contract customers. According to Gurman’s report, all three carrier financing options will be made available in Apple Stores.
Why would Apple adopt the new carrier financing? For one, the experience of buying an iPhone — or anything else — in the Apple Store is meant to be as seamless as possible. The self-checkout function found in the iOS Apple Store app is a perfect example of that. By offering the same purchase options as carriers do in their own stores, Apple is ensuring that it’s just as easy, if not easier, to purchase that iPhone in its own retail location. And the company is doing so in advance of an expected iPhone 6 announcement in early September, which would work out any bugs during what’s likely to be a hectic sales period.
Getting more people in the Apple Store is another reason, and it’s a smart strategy. Once you’re in the door to buy an iPhone, Apple is happy to have you look at the rest of its product line, be it iMac desktops, MacBook Pro or Air laptops and any number of accessories for all things iOS and Mac. I doubt people actually need another reason to avoid a trip to their carrier store, but Apple is happy to oblige with its own wonderland of products and simple buying experience.