But it didn’t take long before the first iPhone buyers, the ones who lined up days in advance outside stores in anticipation of the gadget’s June 29th onsale date, started crying foul!

Yes, just fewer than10 weeks after the high-tech aficionados went nuts over Apple’s latest gadget from its profitable line of lowercase “i” products, the company cut a third off iPhone’s price, effectively penalizing loyal customers for being, well, loyal.

So Apple met early iPhone buyers half way, by offering them a $100 credit toward other Apple products.

Jobs explained his company’s reasoning in an open letter on the Apple Web site that he had received “hundreds of emails” from customers complaining about the price drop. Jobs then went on to make a few observations.

“First, I am sure that we are making the correct decision to lower the price of the 8GB iPhone from $599 to $399, and that now is the right time to do it,” Jobs wrote. “iPhone is a breakthrough product, and we have the chance to ‘go for it’ this holiday season … It benefits both Apple and every iPhone user to get as many new customers as possible in the iPhone ‘tent.’ We strongly believe the $399 price will help us do just that this holiday season.”

Jobs went on to write that the “technology road is bumpy” and “there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane.”

But that didn’t mean the Applemeister was telling his customers they were out of luck. Instead, in the paragraph leading to the $100 credit announcement, Jobs wrote, “. . . we need to do a better job taking care of our early iPhone customers as we aggressively go after new ones with a lower price. Our early customers trusted us, and we must live up to that trust with our actions in moments like these.”

By the way, a few days after Jobs posted his message, the Apple media machine announced it had sold 1 million iPhones since June 29th. With most of that sales action occurring under the original $599 price, it looks as if someone at Apple is going to have his or her hands full issuing those $100 credits.