The iPhone isn't cheap, and it's really not cheap when you factor in the two year ATT Wireless contract that is a non-negotiable part of your purchase. That could change. The US House of Representatives is holding a hearing today regarding legislation that would require carriers to allow you to bring your device to their plans without penalty.
The bill would require wireless carriers to offer consumers the ability to purchase subsidy-free wireless equipment without a long-term service plan at a price no higher than comparable plans offered with subsidized equipment. The bill would also require carriers to prorate early termination fees to ensure that the carrier recovers the cost of the subsidy, but no more. The bill said legislation is necessary “as wireless service is increasingly used and relied upon by residential and business consumers.”
Most carriers either give you or subsidize the cost of handsets to get you to sign up for their service. Apple is charging you for the handset plus getting a cut from ATT for the service for it. If the legislation passes, Apple might be enjoined from Thinking Different.