Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs hands out $100 to iPhone customers

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First gen iPhone
All hail the original iPhone!
Photo: Traci Dauphin/Cult of Mac

Sept 6September 6, 2007: Apple deals with its first iPhone PR crisis, when early adopters complain about the company dropping the price of its new smartphone by $200 just two months after introducing it.

In response, Steve Jobs offers affected customers $100 credit which can be used toward the purchase of any Apple store product. “Our early customers trusted us, and we must live up to that trust with our actions in moments like these,” he writes.

The $200 price cut is one of two changes Apple made to its iPhone early on. In early September, it discontinued the low-end 4GB model (and you thought your 16GB iPhone was insufficient!), along with dropping the 8GB model from $599 to $399.

The move was a response to early critics, like Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, who laughed at Apple for releasing such an expensive product into the market place.

Nonetheless, Apple’s move upset many people who had rushed out to buy the iPhone — as the above parody ad demonstrates. According to a New York Times report on September 6, 2007, one customer responded to the price drop by announcing plans to manufacture T-shirts reading, “I was a $200 iPhone beta tester for Apple.”

Not everyone was affected by the price drop. Those who bought an iPhone in the 14 days before the September price rethink were eligible for a $200 “price protection” rebate, but people who had bought the iPhone as soon as it was available were not.

In the end, Apple’s $100 offer — something it was not legally mandated to deliver — did the trick and restored Apple’s great reputation for customer service.

Along with other controversies like the 300-page iPhone bill, the $100 credit for early adopters was a pioneering example of Apple dealing with the PR demands of its new smartphone business, years before Bendgate or Antennagate. Still, in this instance it did right by its customers.

Were you an early iPhone adopter? Let us know when you first picked up an Apple smartphone in the comments below.