Last week we reported that Best Buy would be offering the iPhone 3GS for free to upgrade-eligible AT&T customers, new customers and those wishing to add a line.  Of course all of this was based on willingness to sign a two-year contract. This, in and of itself was a shock considering the iPhone 3GS has never been discounted to free before. The one day sale occurred on Friday, Dec. 10th, and although Best Buy stated they had ample stock of the handset, that was not always the case. I would also like to add that the BlackBerry Torch was also being offered for free on that day, although that really has no bearing to this story, but simply a side note.

bbyiphoneMy family and I had decided to get my mother-in-law an iPhone 3GS for Christmas, considering she had been commenting about her desire to upgrade to a smart phone the past few weeks. The one day “free” sale just happened to come along at the right time.

Best Buy opens at 8AM during the holiday season, and although I didn’t feel an urgency to arrive early, circumstances of the morning brought me to one of their locations at about 9AM. When I arrived at the Best Buy Mobile Center I noticed three other customers being helped with iPhone purchases. Those three people were purchasing two iPhones, one iPhone and one Torch, and three iPhones respectively, totaling six iPhone 3GS units. As the next person in line, I waited for just over thirty-five minutes and during that time I had an opportunity to talk with the other four or five people waiting. After doing the math on the lines potential purchases, I calculated that Best Buy would “sell”, or give away in this case, twelve of the phones by 10AM in this location. I then heard one employee state to another that they only had five more left, which frankly shocked me. I’m not sure why I was so surprised, but I was.

On my way home I became very curious whether it was only this particular Best Buy that would sell out quickly, or if this would be common for all Best Buy stores. When I arrived home, I ran to the office and quickly called five other locations within 50 miles of my home. After long hold times, and uninformed associates, I found supplies were low at all of those stores by noon.

There has been a lot of talk about how the 3GS will soon phase out of consumers hands considering the next generation iPhone will more than likely be dropping in July of 2011. As mentioned earlier, I purchased the 3GS for my mother-in-law as she has never owned a smart phone, and really doesn’t need the advanced features of the iPhone 4, so the 3GS combined with the price tag of free, couldn’t be better for her.

Based on my experience during the one day sale at Best Buy, the 3GS is still a very desirable product in the Apple lineup, as well as in the overall smart phone landscape. Of course the “free” aspect surrounding the 3GS at Best Buy that day had something to do with it, but the five stores I surveyed sold out of their approximately two dozen phones by noon. These facts tell us that the 3GS is not looked upon as antiquated technology just yet.

Do you have an experience or story about picking up a 3GS at Best Buy during the Dec. 11th one day only sale? Did you get one or were you too late? Let me know in the comments below.