Apple's $600 iPhone Clearance Sale

Apple observers say the company is trying to clear shelves for the newest version of the iPhone.
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say the company is trying to clear out iPhone inventory to make way for the newest version of the phone due this summer.

As of Thursday, Apple and


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started offering iPhones without mandatory two-year service contracts and waiving activation fees, according to company communications obtained by


. In Apple's case, the company has lifted its one-per-customer restriction on the iPhone.

Stampedes? Not likely. The big hitch to this so-called shelf-clearing scheme, of course, is that iPhone buyers will have to pay the full unsubsidized price of $600 for the 8-gigabyte model and $700 for the 16-gigabyte phone.

The move follows a similar pattern established last year at this time, when Apple and AT&T stopped restocking the phones ahead of the new 3G iPhone unveiling in July. At the time, analysts like Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster noted the widespread sellouts and predicted correctly that the shelves were being emptied in advance of the new iPhone.

Some analysts and numerous bloggers speculate that Apple will introduce at least one new iPhone around the June timeframe, in keeping with the timing of the last two iPhone debuts. The new phone is expected to beefed up and include a video camera.

Apple has scheduled its annual World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco for the week of June 8. This bit of info has given some

Apple fans reason to speculate

that the company will use the event to showcase the new iPhone.

Apple shares were down $3.30, or 3%, to $106.57 Friday.