iPhone 3GS Now $97 At Walmart … 4G Coming Soon?

Walmart has dropped the price of the iPhone 3GS to $97, which is $2 less than Apple charges for the older 3G model. The move has fueled speculation that Apple plans to announce the next-generation iPhone at its developers conference next month. They may as well. It’s not like anybody’s going to be surprised to see it.

Speculation about the new iPhone is running wild, given Apple’s problems keeping prototypes locked up (and the media’s need for new Apple news at least once a week). Muses The Wall Street Journal:

[T]he announcement comes as speculation is heating up about when Apple will launch a new iPhone.

In past years, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has unveiled new iPhones at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, offering them up for sale soon after in late June or early July. The company said on Monday that Jobs would be delivering his keynote at this year’s WWDC on June 7 at 10 a.m.

Wal-Mart’s price cut is particularly notable because when Apple introduced the iPhone 3GS last year, it cut the price of the older iPhone to $99. Wal-Mart’s new price would allow it to continue to lead in pricing if Apple decides to repeat last year’s strategy and reduce the price of its iPhone 3GS to $99 when the next iPhone comes out.

Of course, the news could be nothing more than Walmart being Walmart, which is the way the big boxer is playing it right now. The company’s wireless chief, Mehrdad Akbar, would only say: “As it is our commitment to always lead on price, we are going to reduce the price on this most popular smartphone so our customers can realize these new saving as soon as possible.”

So, if you’re looking for a deal on an iPhone, Walmart may be the place to go — unless you want to just wait around for a new model to show up on a barstool near you.

Wal-Mart Cuts Price on iPhone 3GS [WSJ]