IPhone monthly plans start at $59.99

AT&T’s
service plans for the Apple iPhone will cost $59.99 to $99.99 a month, the
companies said Tuesday.

The
monthly fee is on top of the phone’s price — $499 for a model with 4 gigabytes
of storage and $599 for one with 8 gigabytes. The phone is slated to go on sale
at 6 p.m. local time Friday at Apple and AT&T stores as well as Apple’s Web
site.

Apple
claims the iPhone — which combines the functions of a cell phone, iPod media
player and Web-surfing device — will be easier to use than other smart phones
because of its unique touch-screen display and intuitive software that allows
for easy access to voice mail messages, the Internet, and video and music
libraries. AT&T is the gadget’s exclusive carrier.

The $59.99
monthly plan includes 450 minutes of voice time; a $79.99 plan includes 900
minutes; and a $99.99 plan includes 1,350 minutes. All three offer 200 text
messages, unlimited data services, minutes that roll over month-to-month and
mobile-to-mobile calls. There also is a $36 activation fee.

Customers
will be able to activate their wireless service from home through Apple’s
iTunes software, the companies said.

Skeptics
question whether even the most innovative product can live up to the iPhone’s
lofty expectations. Scrutiny of the product is so great that any small
disappointment could send Apple’s stock plunging, analysts say.

Apple
shares dropped $2.72, or 2.2 percent, to $119.62, in afternoon trading. Shares
of AT&T gained 63 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $39.71.

Andy
Hargreaves, a Pacific Crest Securities analyst, said Apple shareholders have
run the stock up in anticipation of the iPhone’s release, and they don’t feel
it will go much higher after the product is available, he said.

“I
think expectations are very, very high and some people are taking some money
off the table ahead of the launch,” WR Hambrecht analyst Matthew Kather
said.