The ever-advancing march of technology, or at the very least short phone product cycles, makes fools of us all. Those who scorn early adoption can now laugh derisively at those of us who shelled out three C-notes to buy the HTC ThunderBolt way back in March of 2011, because now you can pick up one of the biggest phones of last year (in more ways than one) for free on a new two-year contract. Verizon’s website updated with the reduced pricing, though it includes an online discount and promotional discount, so you might not be able to find the same deal at retail locations.

All joking aside, there’s a lot to like about the ThunderBolt even now. a 4.3-inch screen and built-in kickstand combination makes for a great little video machine, even if it’s just 800×480 resolution. a 1Ghz single-core processor and 768MB of RAM is more than enough for Android, even now that the official Gingerbread update is out, and the 8MP camera can hold its own against newer HTC models like the Rezound. And of course, the ThunderBolt is Verizon’s first LTE phone, though its older hardware means that you’ll want to switch to 3G often to save battery.

But what should really get your attention is the mod community that’s sprung up around the ThunderBolt. IT was one of Verizon’s best-selling Android phones last year, and that means plenty of ROMs, apps, mods and patches, including official versions of CyanogenMod and MIUI. There’s more than one Ice Cream Sandwich ROM floating around as well. There’s no new on whether the reduced pricing will stick, but with the ThunderBolt upstaged by a handful of Verizon LTE devices already and new stock in the pipeline after Mobile World Congress, it’s entirely possible that this is the end of the line for HTC’s former flagship.