What do you do if you've got a pile of devices that are currently among the hottest gizmos on sale across the world, and there's a likely three-month gap before your highly anticipated next-gen device launches? You dump 'em to make way for the new new thing. That's the issue Apple's facing. So now they're selling iPhone 3Gs contract-free.
Yup, you read that right. A shiny iPhone with no automatic two-year tie-in to AT&T's 3G cellphone service. Unfortunately, this isn't some kind of "everything-must-go, closeout sale. You have to fork over a big wad of cash if you want one, to make up for AT&T's and Apple's "missing revenue" from the contracts--$599 for an 8GB model and $699 for a 16GB. You can buy them at an AT&T store or via Apple itself, though it seems different sales models may apply for each vendor: AT&T may be limiting the number you can buy, whereas Apple apparently isn't.
You probably don't want to buy an armload though--it's heavily rumored that Apple's got a new version on the way, probably due to be announced in June at the recently-confirmed Apple World Wide Developers Conference. If Apple does as expected, it'll have much enhanced features, so those second-gen phones, even temptingly contract-free, will be old hat--and you'll have paid quite a lot for vintage tech.
Still, this looks like Apple really is trying to liquidate its stock of old iPhones, as rumors about the next phone start getting hotter. And that, above all else we've seen so far, is a hint that the iPhone version 3 really is on its way.