Several retailers have been pushing the price of the iPhone 4S downward, as a refresh in hardware is undoubtedly approaching. On the other side of things, Apple had been holding steady on their pricing, with the iPhone 4S selling at $199 to $399, the iPhone 4 selling for $99, and the iPhone 3GS being sold as a free device with the signing of a two year contract.
MacRumors is now reporting that Apple retail stores are now able to match the pricing being offered by other retailers. If requested by the customer, Apple can bring down the price of the iPhone 4 and 4S by $49.01, bring the price in line with offers from other retailers such as Sprint. Customers will likely be required to cite where they saw the offer, before Apple matches the price.
Also, it seems that price matching is only offered in Apple’s retail stores, and not through its online stores.
I understand why Apple wouldn’t want to do this across the board. It would be an admittance that new hardware is on the way, even to the non-geekiest of consumers. But, when provoked, Apple would rather cut their price and make the sale through their retail outlets than through big box stores or carriers.