Next week it seems we'll find out about the 3G iPhone, and hopefully O2 will put me out of my misery about whether they'll let me upgrade (Will O2 penalise me for being an early-adopter?).
In the shower this morning, location of most of thinking, it occurred to me that if they did let me upgrade, I'd be left with a 'useless' iPhone, at least in the eyes of Apple and O2. My purchase agreement prohibits me from jailbreaking it so as soon as my number is ported over to the new device and the SIM deactivated it's officially a brick.
Apple are very public about their dislike of jail-breaking but I'm sure the networks will be equally keen to upgrade people and extend their contracts. All those early adopters with a 'spare' iPhone will head straight to eBay via an unlocking service to recoup some of their outlay.
In many ways this is the most environmentally conscious approach. Make sure the device, that is still in excellent working order, can still be used by someone. Rather than ending up in a landfill somewhere, leaching it's delectable cocktail of heavy metals and other substances in to the surrounding ecosystem.
An alternative is for Apple + operator to provide a return scheme, probably with a cash back or new contract penalty if the original phone isn't returned when it's deactivated. If this is the case, it will be very interesting to watch the prices on eBay to see whether money's to be made.
This would be expensive for Apple as they still have to do something with the phones when the receive them. If it happens it will have probably come down to a battle between the Apple Cool Police and the money men over how much control freakery really costs.
Unfortunately this is all personal conjecture as there is a still a significantly less appealing alternative, no upgrades. But that doesn't bear thinking about...