iphone refund logistics
Two potential options for iPhone "early adopter refund" logistics:
Require users to present their original purchase receipt for their iPhone (along with the phone itself) at the Apple Store by a certain date. Check receipt for validity, check iPhone serial number for valid date range, check the customer's photo identification. Have them fill out a form, and only after validating the purchase and collecting appropriate personal identification, present the user an Apple Store gift card for $100.
On iPhone sync, during a scheduled update, recognize that the device was activated before the price drop, or through the serial number that it was purchased before the price drop. Connect the phone to the user's iTunes store / Apple ID email address. Offer the customer $100 (or potentially even more, $110?) in iTunes store credits on the spot, or an emailed coupon with a custom code and potentially a custom generated bar code that can be printed and brought to the store.
Option 1 has the potential to maximize breakage. Option 2 has the potential to minimize breakage and provide more immediate data to Apple on redemption patterns. If they do something like option 2, in something approaching "real time" (like they pull that off in the next week or two), you have to wonder if the price drop and resulting letter from Steve was planned well in advance...